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Kestenberg, J.S. (1988). Introduction. Psychoanal. Rev., 75(4):495-497.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Review, 75(4):495-497


Judith S. Kestenberg

What happened to Jewish children at the hands of Nazi persecutors? More than a million children were killed, most were uprooted and a great many lost their entire families. For the relatively few child survivors the question of memory looms supreme. For a long time, they wanted to forget, and society encouraged this, hoping that these children could start a new life unencumbered by the past. The need to forget the unspeakable was universal.

Child survivors are now in their forties and fifties. Many of them spent their postwar lives building new lives and careers, getting married and having children. Most of their children have reached adulthood. Now, child survivors have begun to speak up. They speak in schools and at meetings, they testify for oral histories. They gather in small and large groups to talk to one another and to share their memories with other child survivors. For them, the sense of belonging or not belonging is intimately connected with having once belonged to and then being excluded from their families, homes, schools, the countries of their birth and even their memories. Many lost all of these. Quite a few never recovered a sense of belonging anywhere.


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