web analytics
August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



As Survivors Pass, Holocaust Memoir Genre Braces For Significant Transformation

As the generation of Holocaust survivors passes, writers and researchers acknowledge the urgent need to ask probing questions and preserve fading memories. Moving forward, in the absence of firsthand accounts survivors’ descendants will need to assume responsibility for educating future generations about the genocide.

In the modern era of self-publishing, the market for Holocaust literature has been glutted with personal accounts of horror, survival, hope, and despair, establishing a complicated legacy. Yet not every survivor finds the words or strength necessary to tell his or her story publicly. Likewise, many children of survivors struggle throughout their lives to understand their parents’ scars.

“Most grew up with the Holocaust as a silent, dark mystery,” said Dr. Jerry Jennings, a clinical psychologist who has published three Holocaust memoirs on behalf of survivors. “They were denied the truth of what deeply shaped their parents’ and their own upbringing and they have strong emotions about touching a subject that was explicitly or implicitly forbidden by the parent.”

This communication gap may inhibit future generations from embracing and understanding Holocaust history. With so little time left, Jennings encourages younger generations to record their aging relatives’ stories. “There is untold value in getting the names and hometowns of family and friends in the ‘old world’ – uncles, cousins, grandparents, et cetera,” he explained.

The methodology Jennings utilizes to transcribe his subject’s memoirs underscores the importance of meticulously collecting all available evidence. Jennings interviewed survivors Stella Yollin, Sol and Goldie Finkelstein, and Ida Hoffmann for his trilogy of books – Stella’s Secret, I Choose Life and Darkness Hides the Flowers.

“The goal of research,” he noted, “is not to confirm or verify [survivor] stories, but rather to put their individual stories in the broader historical context.”

The task of correlating oral testimony with existing records requires patient listening and careful attention to specific names, dates, and places. Inconsistencies in a survivor’s story are not roadblocks. On the contrary, Jennings’s work reveals that the process of inquiry can lead to exciting discoveries, almost always resulting in a clearer picture of events.

“Sol insisted that during his time at Mauthausen Concentration Camp, he was a forced laborer in a cave that built [V2] rockets,” Jennings says, recounting one instance when the oral record he was transcribing did not match up with known facts. “For Sol’s story to be true, he would have been 500 miles away in a different camp and [working in] a different year.”

To reach into Sol’s murky memory for the missing clues, Jennings employed a unique strategy. He asked simple yet detailed questions like “How did you get from here to there?” and “What was the weather like that day?”

That technique prompted the speaker to enlarge upon the day-to-day reality of his situation and experience. “Ultimately, Sol’s story was completely accurate,” Jennings said. “We found the subterranean sub-camp in the location and year that he said, but it was under a different name than the one used by Sol and the prisoners.”

Jennings’s trilogy is comprehensive. Instead of only relating his subject’s survival stories, he prompts them to reflect on their lives before and after the war. Omitting this information “was a disservice and even a distortion of the complete truth,” said the author.

“We need to know how the survivors lived before the war in order to fully appreciate the magnitude of what they lost, and we need to know how they rebuilt their lives after the war to appreciate the compassion and hope that rose from the ashes of the crematoriums,” he said.

Reflecting on these grim stories induced an emotional healing process for Jennings’s subjects, one he says was challenging at first but immensely rewarding in its culmination. Finally, publication of the series provided a permanent record of each survivor’s personal triumph.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “As Survivors Pass, Holocaust Memoir Genre Braces For Significant Transformation”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
PM Binyamin Netanyahu
Bibi, Abbas Met Before Ceasefire
Latest Sections Stories
Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot together in concert.

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

Mordechai-082214-Armoire

As of late, vintage has definitely been in vogue in the Orthodox community.

Einhorn-082214-Water

Stroll through formal gardens, ride mountain bikes, or go rock climbing.

As they fall upon us we go
To the WALL.

One minute you’re shaving shwarma off a pit, then the shwarma guy tells you he read a (fake) WhatsApp that the boys are dead.

I probe a little deeper and Shula takes me into the world of phantom pains and prosthetic limbs.

This went on until she had immersed eighty times, and then Hashem at last took pity upon her.

Because Menachem lives in Israel, he can feel the ruach in the air.

Perhaps you can reach a compromise during this news frenzy, whereby you will feel more comfortable while he can still follow the latest events.

Leon experienced the War of Independence from a soldier’s perspective, while remaining true to his Jewish ideals and beliefs.

Chabad of Arizona centers recently hosted an evening of remembrance to mark the 20th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

More Articles from Jeffrey F. Barken

“Most grew up with the Holocaust as a silent, dark mystery,” said Dr. Jerry Jennings, a clinical psychologist who has published three Holocaust memoirs on behalf of survivors. “They were denied the truth of what deeply shaped their parents’ and their own upbringing and they have strong emotions about touching a subject that was explicitly or implicitly forbidden by the parent.”

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/as-survivors-pass-holocaust-memoir-genre-braces-for-significant-transformation/2014/03/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: