While the Holocaust may be decades in the past, the trauma and pain it brought about are still very real even today. Back in 2018 I got to travel to Israel through a spring break program at my university. As part of this trip we visited many historical and religious sites across the country, but by far the most memorable was the Holocaust museum. Our tour guide, an Israeli Jew walked us to the gates of the museum, but declined to go with us. For him the museum was a reminder of the family members he had lost during the Holocaust, and was too painful.
One of the parts of that museum that will forever be engrained into my mind is the memorial to the children lost during the Holocaust. You enter a dark tunnel, with soft somber music echoing throughout. There are hundreds of mirrors set to reflect the light of a single candle millions of times around you. Each reflection of the candle represented the life of a child whos flame was extinguished far too soon during the genocide. Many of us including myself left the tunnel in tears. The atrocities committed during the Holocaust were unspeakable, millions of innocent people killed for their beliefs.
The trauma inflicted by the Nazis continued even after their reign of power came to and end. After the war there were countless children who had lost their families or experienced trauma. As we learned in unit 2 adverse childhood experiences can lead to problems later in life such as depression and other health issues (Rosseau 2020). The number of children who experienced trauma throughout the holocaust and had such issues later in life is incalculable. Wiesel writes about being herded into railroad cars, threatened with death, starved and dehydrated being sent off to camps. Some families were separated, and would never see each-other again (Night 2006). These types of experiences would severely traumatize anyone. Even after the terror stopped, the damage was still continuing. In studies conducted on Holocaust survivors years later 45-55% were found to be suffering from PTSD, and many ranked the Holocaust as the most significant stressor in their lives even decades later (Barak 2000). While the genocide may have ended decades ago, its effects are still felt today. Trauma never really goes away, as the memories will always be there.
Barak, Y., & Szor, H. (2000). Lifelong posttraumatic stress disorder: evidence from aging Holocaust survivors. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 2(1), 57–62.
Rousseau, D. (2020). Module 2. Retrieved from https://onlinecampus.bu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-7783368-dt-content-rid-37966231_1/courses/20sum1metcj720so1/course/module2/allpages.htm
Wiesel, E., & Wiesel, M. (2006). Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang.