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Varvin, S. (2004). Book Section. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 27(1):63-65.

(2004). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 27(1):63-65

Book Section

Sverre Varvin

BARN UNDER FÖRINTELSEN - DÅ OCH NU (CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST - THEN AND NOW). By Suzanne Kaplan. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur, 2003.

What was it like to be a child during the Holocaust? How did children experience the disappearances of close ones, the beatings, killings, transportations, the camps - and the perspective that everybody would be killed, vanish and disappear? And, how are the memories and traces of these experiences represented in the psyche even many years afterwards in those who survived?

We do have knowledge on how children represent experiences of horror and trauma. There is ample evidence that such experiences gravely mark the minds of children, not only as memories but also in the mind's capacity to deal with affects, perceptions and bodily experiences. Those who have worked with child survivors of recent atrocities as in Rwanda and in the Balkans can testify to that. We also know that the memories and traces of such experiences persist in the minds of those surviving throughout their lives, often as un-nameable traces that manifest themselves in ways of living, bodily problems or as repetitive nightmares often after having lain dormant for many years. The researches on Holocaust survivors, for example by Eitinger, has shown how, many years later, there is the possibility that something which obviously had to do with the experiences from the years of horror, may “explode” and produce irremediable somatic diseases (Eitinger, 1971; Eitinger & Strom, 1981).

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