.. r isolation. To them, the reality of what had happened was agonizing. They lived with their overwhelming personal losses whose impact is beyond intellectual or emotional comprehension. They also clung to the hope of finding some family member still alive in the new DISPLACED PERSONS’ camps that were now set up. Many of the people admitted to those camps lost all sense of initiative.
After the war, organizations such as THE UNITED NATIONS RELIEF and REHABILITATION ADMINISTRATION, THE JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE and the International Refugee Organization were founded. Their work was useful but their methods were not suitable. The ex- prisoner, now a “displaced person”, was brought before boards set up by different countries which decided on his or her worthiness to be received by that country. Most survivors tried to make their way to Palestine. Then Israel was founded and they integrated quickly into a new society. The majority of the people adapted adequately to their changed life, in newly founded families, jobs and kibbutzim, many however still suffered from chronic anxiety, sleep disturbances, nightmares, emotional instability and depressive states.
The worst however were those people who went to the United States, Canada, and Austrailia, some of them with extreme psychological traumatizations. They had to adjust to strange new surroundings, learn a new language, and adapt to new laws, in addition to building new lives. After the survivors received compensation from the West German government, they were examined by specialists in internal and neurological medicine. In most cases, no ill effects directly attributable to detainment in camps were found. The reason for this was because the repeated selection of Jewish victims for extermination in ghettos, on arrival at the camps, again at the frequent medical examinations, in the sick bays, and at every transferment that all those showing signs of physical disease had already been eliminated. Many survivors described themselves as incapable of living life to the fullest, often barely able to perform basic tasks. They felt that the war had changed them and they had lost their much needed spark to life. Investigations show that the extreme traumatizations of the camps inflicted deep wounds that have healed very slowly, and that more than 40 years later, the scars are still present.
There has shown to be clear differences between camp victims and statistically comparable Canadian Jews: the survivors show long term consequences of the Holocaust in the form of psychological stress, associated with heightened sensitivity to anti-semitism and persecution. The survivors, normal people before the Holocaust, were exposed to situations of extreme stress and to psychic traumatization. Their reactions to inhuman treatment were “normal” because not to react to treatment of this kind would be abnormal. Survivors of Israel There were few studies done, following the Holocaust that were made in Israel of the psychological effects of the Nazi persecution even though the number of survivors was high as time passed, research increased and in 1964, a comparison was made between Holocaust survivors now in Israel and non-Jewish Norwegians who returned to Norway after being deported to camps. The results showed that the Jewish survivors suffered more from the total isolation in the camps, from the danger of death, which was greater for Jews, and from “survivor guilt”, than did the Norwegians. It also showed that most Israeli survivors were suffering from symptoms of the so called survivors syndrome, but were active and efficient, and often held important and responsible jobs and social positions.
Another study, of Israeli Holocaust survivors in kibbutzim (collective settlements), revealed that survivors who could not mourn their losses immediately, after the war began mourning and working through their grief when they adjusted to life in the kibbutz. The study also indicated that many Holocaust survivors had a low threshold for emotional stress. This was brought out during situations that reminded them of the Holocaust- especially during the EICHMANN TRIAL, when they had to testify against Nazi criminals, and during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. These were the times when they suffered periods of depression and tension. Studies made in Israel more than 30 years after WWII did not show significant differences in the extent of psychological damage between people who were in hiding during Nazi occupation and former concentration camp inmates. The only difference that was found was that the inmates experienced more pronounced emotional distress than those who survived the occupation outside the camps.
The research done on the elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel indicated that they encountered particular difficulties in absorption because of the serious problems they had to overcome (loss of family and of the social and cultural backround they had known before the Holocaust). The community in Israel tried to provide them with personal and professional care. Nevertheless, to those survivors who immigrated to Israel when elderly it was more difficult to adjust than the younger survivors. There was also a study done in the University Psychiatric Hospital in Jerusalem 40 years after liberation. It revealed a difference between hospitalized depressive patients who had been inmates of Nazi concentration camps and the match group of patients who had not been persecuted.
The camp survivors were more belligerent, demanding, and regressive than the control group. Oddly enough their behavior may have helped their survival. Despite the many hardships and difficulties faced by the survivors in Israel, their general adjustment has been satisfactory, both vocationally and socially. In the end it has been more successful than that of Holocaust survivors in other countries. When looking at it from a general point of view, the survivors, for the most part have shown to be as strong as humanly possible. Not one person who hasn’t seen what they saw can possibly imagine how they feel.
Many people are greatly affected by things the survivors would consider menial. There is no other way they are supposed to act. These people were lucky to have survived but there is no doubt that there have been times when their memories have made them think otherwise. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bettelheim,B. The Informed Heart.
Glencoe, Ill.,1960 Des Pres,T. The Survivor:An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps. New York, 1976 Dimsdale,J.E.,ed. Survivors, Victims, and Perpetrators:Essays on the Nazi Holocaust. New York, 1980.
Eitinger, L., Concentration Camp Survivors in Norway and Israel. London, 1964. Krystal, H.,ed., Massive Psychic Trauma. New York 1968. Lifton, R.J.”The Concept ofm the Survivor.” in Survivors, Victims, and Perpetrators:Essays on the Nazi Holocaust, edited by J.E. Dimsdale, pp.106-125.
New York, 1980. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF THE HOLOCAUST Rabbi Stern Antoanela Ciomo Gari Fox.