The Effects of the Holocaust on the Second Generation Survivors – Part 2

In the first part of this article, “The Effects of the Holocaust on the Second Generation,” I talked about the video and how silence affects the present without you realizing it. We will continue the discussion below.

Non Silence Leads to Guilt

Sometimes not keeping silent can lead to guilt. Not only for the teller but also for the one it is about. For example, one lady was repeatedly told by her mother how she had to breast feed her until she was 2½ years old, causing her to drink the mother’s blood because she no longer produced any milk. This was how she survived. Now this lady is walking around with this great burden on how she survived. Should her mother have told her? I do not think so. Some things do not need to be said, at least, not if it puts a burden on the child.

Comparing that today is when a mother tells her child that she almost died giving birth. Every time the child acts up, the mother brings this up. Another example is when a mother constantly tells her child daddy left them because of the child. While this may or may not be true, the child goes through life feeling guilty for breaking up the family. Some things should never come out of a mother’s mouth and really should be taken to her grave.

This openness causes our children to keep silent about the pain we are causing them and their guilt grows. This silence imprisons them and without realizing it we have done to them what was done to us. They become a prisoner of guilt.

Auschwitz Picture: The Double Electric Fence of Auschwitz

(Picture from the Philip Vock Collection, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.) View of the camp's double, electrified, barbed wire fence and barracks. (Immediately after liberation January 1945)

We should never make our children feel guilty for the choices we have made in our lives. No one forced us to do what we did. We did them because we thought it was the right thing to do at the time (at least most of us did). That mother who chose to breastfeed her child her 2½ years did so because she didn’t want her child to die. A man left his family because he no longer wanted to be a part of that family. Maybe he did leave because he didn’t want any children, but 9 out of 10 times the woman knows that before she got pregnant.

Side note: Women if you already know your man don’t want children and you do, leave him and find a man who wants children. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a bad situation. End side note.

Breaking the Silence

The first step is to acknowledge what wrong was done to you. If you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge what wrong was done to you, how can you explain it to your children?

The second step is to determining when you should tell your children. Depending on the magnitude of the offense will determine how long you should wait to tell them. Some things small children don’t comprehend so telling them can literally go in one ear and out the other. Or it can cause them to live in fear.

Maybe you can tell them some details, but not others. For example, I always taught my children that no one was allowed to touch them in certain places. Those were their private places. I didn’t go into what happened to me as a child until they were nearly grown. I had to explain why I was so over protective. Their response went something like, “No one has ever touched me. I understand I am to tell you if someone ever tries to hurt me and I’m sorry that happened to you.”

I believe if I had constantly harped on what happened to me and questioned them every time they were out of my sight, I could have made them deathly afraid of men. Thank God I didn’t. J

Should parents have told their children about the Holocaust and what happened to them personally? If so, could the children have comprehended the magnitude of the situation? It really depended on how old was the child and how mature was the child. The younger the child was the less I think the child would have understood. If you tell a child something too young you run the risk of raising a child who hates.

For example, one lady whom I will call Mary, hated the Germans for making her an orphan and without realizing it she passed it on to her daughter, whom I’ll call Dora. Mary met a woman at her daughter’s school whose life paralleled hers. They got along and everything. Their daughters were like two peas in a pod. One day the little girl asked Dora to come to her birthday party and she declined. Dora came home to tell her mother what had happened and before Mary could ask her why she declined, Dora said, “But don’t worry mom, I told her no because she is a German.” Mary had not realized she had passed her hatred to her daughter.

On the other hand if the child was older and mentally mature, I think he had a right to know. Being a teenager is hard enough. Being a teenager who has to deal with all of our crazy ways because something happened to us is too much. Maybe if we told them why we act the way we do and why we tell them no without any reason, things would be different in the home.

The final step is understanding you will live with the outcome of your decision. The outcome may be good or bad. You have no way of knowing until you say something. However, I always found prayer helps a lot.

Happiness after Silence

My final concern is whether or not people can be happy after the Holocaust or whatever past they are dealing with. I believe they can, but only if God heals their heart and only if they want to be happy. I do not think anyone will be happy by forgetting the past or by not examining their true feelings and by not realizing that to keep silent allows this horror to be perpetrated again.

You can remember a horrible thing without the pain attached to it, but only if God heals you because only He can heal your spirit. Only he can heal where no one sees – that deep hurt that even you sometimes forget about.

Remember, we can try to block out the wrong done to us, believing our actions are not bias, but they are. Until we allow Yahweh Elohim to heal us we will always live in reactive mode instead of resting in his peace, which he provided for us through his son, Yeshua.

Until next, be blessed and seek Yahweh to heal you of any past hurts.

Prayer Time

Our Heavenly Father, who is in heaven,
           Heal our hearts so we won’t unknowingly take out on our children what was done to us. Help us to recognize our pain so we won’t perpetrate it on our children. Let us allow you to heal the very depths of our souls, for you said you will restore our souls.
In Yeshua the Messiah’s name, Amen.

Scripture Reference

“He has me lie down in grassy pastures, he leads me by quiet water, he restores my inner person. He guides me in right paths for the sake of his own name.” (Psalm 23:2-3 CJB)

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