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Barnett, B. (1997). The Cry of Mute Children: A Psychoanalytic Perspective of the Second Generation of the Holocaust by Ilany Kogan. Published by Free Association Books, London, 1995; xii + 178 pages; £15.95. Brit. J. Psychother., 14(2):239-242.

(1997). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 14(2):239-242

The Cry of Mute Children: A Psychoanalytic Perspective of the Second Generation of the Holocaust by Ilany Kogan. Published by Free Association Books, London, 1995; xii + 178 pages; £15.95

Review by:
Bernard Barnett

Ilany Kogan is a psychoanalyst working in Israel and researching into the problems of Holocaust survivors and their children, the so-called ‘Second Generation’. Over the last decade she has developed a specialized knowledge in this area and the fruits of her research, her published papers, have now been brought together and made more easily accessible in the The Cry of Mute Children. This book consists of seven chapters with a preface by Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel and an introduction and epilogue. Each chapter is centred on a detailed case study and includes a useful and well-informed discussion of the main theoretical and clinical issues.

The crux of Kogan's work is that the survivors and their families cannot mourn the Holocaust. Her (and other) research (Kestenberg 1993) suggests that some 50 years after World War II, the Holocaust cannot yet be mourned. The cold-blooded, calculated, efficient and brutal murder of millions of Jews, gypsies and other persons including a million and a quarter children has been historically noted. However, the enormity of the perpetrators' crime against humanity, the nature of the massive psychic trauma and the quality of the incalculable loss, cannot really be grasped. Indeed in our minds we cannot get much beyond the repetition of mere statistics or the recall of stark images, like piles of shoes and suitcases, that trouble and challenge the imagination and raise disturbing questions about the human condition. In the continuous search for the meaning of these terrible events we are also challenged by the accumulating body of evidence on the aftermath of the Holocaust, the after-effects which include the continued suffering of the survivors and the transmission of the parental trauma to their children and to their children's children.

It is this legacy of the Holocaust and its sequelae, the transmission of the trauma, that is Ilany Kogan's concern in The Cry of Mute Children.

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