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Ermann, M. Pflichthofer, D. Kamm, H. (2009). Children of Nazi Germany 60 Years on: Panel at the International Psychoanalytical Congress, Berlin, 26 July 2007. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 18(4):225-235.

(2009). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 18(4):225-235

Children of Nazi Germany 60 Years on: Panel at the International Psychoanalytical Congress, Berlin, 26 July 2007

Michael Ermann, Diana Pflichthofer and Harald Kamm

(Received 30 May 2008; accepted 17 October 2008)

Defence against shock, feelings of guilt, and shame about German atrocities during National Socialism (NS) have dominated the public discourse in Germany for decades. Mitscherlich and Mitscherlich have talked about the inability to mourn due to the involvement of most German families in Nazi terror. The research projects “Childhood in War” at the University of Munich and “War Children and their Flight” at the Hamburg DPG Institute are studying the long-term implications of a childhood during World War II and the Nazi period. In most cases, the personal development of the “war children” was affected—in the case of psychoanalysts, their psychoanalytic socialisation and current professional practice as well. The transgenerational transmission forms an NS introject in the personality. Due to their parents' lack of empathy, war children are unconsciously looking for a containment of their unbearable feelings in their childhood. Psychoanalysis (including training analysis) becomes a stage where the analysee's childhood loneliness, the taboo-forming, the inhibition to ask and the protection of the parents, as well as feelings of guilt and embarrassment in the family, not talking about matters, and silence, occur once more in transference.

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