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Title: After Auschwitz – The Unasked Question
Author: Dr. Anthony D. Beller
Publisher: Mazo Publishers

 

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Most people have read an enormous amount of Holocaust literature during their lifetime. The stories are tragic, horrifying, heart-breaking. No matter how many books you read, or films and documentaries you see, you can never come to terms with the fact that such evil exists in the world.

But Dr. Bellen’s book is different. He is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in PTSD (Post-Trauma Stress Disorder); Moral Resilience and a specialist in Restorative Processes. He lives in Israel, is a husband, father and grandfather, and has retired from the Israeli Prison Services, where he headed the Dept. of Treatment and Rehabilitation; and is now a psychotherapist treating post-trauma victims suffering from personal loss.

The unasked question in the book’s title is: “Do you remember any positive experience from your time in the concentration camp? Was there ever a positive interaction – a brief moment of happiness in the midst of that evil abyss?“

Bellen has chosen interviews with six survivors for this book (chosen from 56 Holocaust survivors he interviewed in 2004 for his doctoral research study in the Department of Criminology, Bar Ilan University. The six gave written permission to share their stories, although names have been changed for privacy. Their stories are unique because they are not just about giving testimony, but focused on a tiny glimmer of something positive within that horrendous negative milieu… an instant of happiness if just for a moment.

I don’t think I will ever forget any of these stories. Motti’s moment of happiness occurred on the day of liberation from Theresienstadt when a Russian soldier stood on a wooden crate and called out in Yiddish: “Has anyone seen my mother?” For Ida it was finding a friend from her village – Miryam. For Eva, it was finding her hairbrush from home that her brother managed to give her before he was gassed in Majdanek. Reuven’s moment of happiness came in a swimming pool with two friends. Ya’acov’s joy came from meeting the love of his life , Sonya, in a laundry in Brintz. Sarah’s positive memory came from a Christmas in Bromberg, where she and some friends “performed” a song for the SS and later for the inmates of the camp.

These were just miniscule moments of happiness, gone in a flash, but powerfully remembered decades later – but never spoken of before.

The book concludes with a Bibliography and References, as well as the seven questions Dr. Bellen asked each of his interviewees. These unforgettable stories may help other people with different traumas find the strength to overcome them. They may even change your perceptions and understanding of the reality of your own life.

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