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Grünberg, K. (2007). Contaminated Generativity: Holocaust Survivors and their Children in Germany. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(1):82-96.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(1):82-96

Contaminated Generativity: Holocaust Survivors and their Children in Germany

Kurt Grünberg, Ph.D.

Translated by:
Nadja Rosental

This paper addresses the trauma transfer from survivors of the Shoah to the Second Generation in Germany. What does it mean for both generations to beget children after Auschwitz? This necessarily entails perceiving non-Jewish Germans and their way of dealing with history. Survivors cannot live without their memory, nor is it possible for them to conceive of a life unencumbered by this constant “contaminant”. It is not possible to integrate the persecution experiences. On the contrary, decades after liberation, dissociated elements of traumatic memories penetrate everyday experiences, thought, affect and imagination as contaminants. Occasionally, these fragments of persecution experiences, like “encapsulated memories” hidden in crypts suddenly break open and frighten the survivors themselves and even more so the people around them.

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