3 years ago

Echoes of transgenerational trauma in the lived experiences of Jewish Australian grandchildren of Holocaust survivors

Ilana G. Cohn, Natalie M.V. Morrison
Objective Previous experimental research has yielded inconclusive findings regarding the effects of Holocaust trauma to survivors’ descendants, while qualitative studies have suggested diverse long-term impacts of this traumatic past. While the extant literature has focused mainly on Israeli and North American children of survivors, this study drew on theories of transgenerational trauma transmission to explore the lived experiences of six Jewish Australian grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. Method Data from semi-structured interviews were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis to investigate how the impacts of historical trauma are experienced across generations in an Australian sample. Results The impact of their grandparents’ Holocaust experiences was found to echo across the participants’ affective experiences, their sense of connection to family histories, their understanding of being different to others, and their political and ethical values. An analysis of these findings suggested that the participants define themselves in a collective manner as part of a group of survivors’ descendants, with their post-Holocaust positioning existing in a state of tension alongside their Australian identity. Conclusions This study extends the literature on transgenerational trauma by shedding light on how the identities of Australian grandchildren of Holocaust survivors continue to be profoundly informed by their identification with familial narratives of trauma, despite their generational distance from the Holocaust.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/ajpy.12194

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