Grand­daugh­ters of the Holo­caust: Nev­er For­get­ting What They Did­n’t Experience

Nir­it Grad­wohl Pisano
  • Review
By – January 9, 2013

Orig­i­nal­ly a doc­tor­al dis­ser­ta­tion, Grand­daugh­ters of the Holo­caust is an aca­d­e­m­ic study, not designed for the casu­al read­er. Pisano sum­ma­rizes inter­views she con­duct­ed with ten women who are all, as she is her­self, grand­daugh­ters of Holo­caust sur­vivors. She then inter­prets the inter­views through a psy­cho­an­a­lyt­ic lens. Her cen­tral con­cern is, in what way is trau­ma trans­mit­ted across gen­er­a­tions? How does an expe­ri­ence that is not theirs and from which they are removed by two gen­er­a­tions impact the emo­tion­al lives of these young women? Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the women who agreed to be inter­viewed feel their grand­par­ents’ expe­ri­ences sharply. Actu­al­ly, most of them are even more impact­ed by the expe­ri­ence of their par­ents, espe­cial­ly their moth­ers, the chil­dren of sur­vivors. Those moth­ers suf­fered from the depres­sion and grief of their own moth­ers and so were unable to be ful­ly present for their daugh­ters. Despite the jar­gon, the inter­views can be inter­est­ing, although a cer­tain same­ness sets in after five or six. Pisano is not a good enough writer to present these women as vivid­ly indi­vid­ual peo­ple, and she does­n’t offer any par­tic­u­lar­ly star­tling find­ings. May be use­ful for men­tal-health pro­fes­sion­als work­ing with this pop­u­la­tion, however.

Miri­am Rinn has been an edi­tor and writer for decades, recent­ly retir­ing from a posi­tion as com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ag­er for JCC Asso­ci­a­tion. Her writ­ing has appeared in many news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines and she has won numer­ous awards, includ­ing a Rock­ow­er, for her work. She is a reg­u­lar review­er of books, film, and the­ater in print and on the Web, and is also the author of a children’s nov­el called The Sat­ur­day Secret, which has been cho­sen as a selec­tion by PJ Library.

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