Staff Reporter

TORONTO – A review of psychological literature reveals that children of Holocaust survivors have conflicting experiences, says an associate professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University.

Susan Bendor, a child survivor and daughter of survivors, was speaking at last week’s conference for adult children of Holocaust survivors and their partners, Inheriting the Past and Influencing the Future, held at the Baycrest Wagman Centre.

In the opening talk of the conference, Bendor said that some research indicates that all second-generation survivors are marred psychologically by the experience.

“This, however, has not been found to be true. [Most] researchers have not arrived at findings that can generalize this diverse group.â€?

Themes of overprotection and distrust have been well documented, she said, but an increased compassion for human suffering has also been identified.

“Along with the parental transmission of trauma, comes the transmission of coping skills, strength and resolve, and the improvisational skills to solve problems in the face of adversity,â€? she said.

What some second-generation survivors interpret as uncaring “is actually a conscious decision on the part of the parents to [insist that their children] take charge of a situation, solve problems themselves, and cope with tough times.â€?

Bendor said that Holocaust therapist Eva Fogelman identified two major groups of second-generation survivors. “Some are dysfunctional, and blame what is wrong with them on their parents’ tragedy and on the Holocaust.