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The Holocaust Essay, Research Paper

"If we were not an eternal people before, we are an eternal

people after the Holocaust, in both its very positive and very

negative sense. We have not only survived, we have revived

ourselves. In a very real way, we have won. We were

victorious. But in a very real way, we have lost. We’ll never

recover what was lost. We can’t assess what was lost. Who

knows what beauty and grandeur six million could have

contributed to the world? Who can measure it up? What

standard do you use? How do you count it? How do you

estimate it…? We lost. The world lost, whether they know it or

admit it. It doesn’t make any difference. And yet we won,

we’re going on." This quote is from the testimony of Fania

Fenelon. The signs and symptoms that are among the Jews

because of the Holocaust definitely characterize abnormality.

These abnormalities include the physical effects, the spiritual

effects, and the second generation.

The physical effects were enormous among the Jews. The

conditions of the camps defy description. The nutrition was

worse than inadequate and the results being the well-known

"musselmen": skeletons covered by skin. After the Jews in

prison camps were freed, their diseases were treated as well as

could be treated. Premature aging was one of the most

prominent disabling effects of survivors. Digestive tract

diseases were also very common because of the emotional

disturbances and inadequate diet during their incarceration. The

experience also placed them at risk of coronary diseases,

cerebrovascular diseases, and arteriosclerosis. All of this was

consistent with the premature aging and the atrophy of the heart

muscle due to the extreme undernourishment during captivity.

Spiritual concerns also followed the survivors of the

Holocaust. The Jews had to face up to one of the most painful

realities of all…What it means to be a Jew. They had to decide

whether or not to remain a Jew. The Holocaust had threatened

the Jewish people near extinction. A anger directed towards the

Non-Jewish world was intense because they had been persecuted

by Gentiles. The Holocaust had caused an apparently

irreversible rupture in the Jewish-Christian relations. Jews felt

and still feel enraged because their expectations of a decent

world were shattered into pieces by the most, supposedly,

civilized people in the world. "Where was God?" wrote Elie

Wiesel, a question asked many times among the Jews. They felt

that God had deserted his very own people. Faith, after the

Holocaust, became more of an individual decision and every Jew

had to face the problem and let his conscience be his guide.

Never before had there been such anger toward any question

raised by Jewish suffering.

The second generation had brought a whole new group of

issues to deal with among the Jews. Great emotions surrounded

the birth of each second generation child of a survivor. Jewish

women feared that they would not be able to bear children

because of what they had experienced. Not having children

would have been a sign of defeat. Once born, the children were

almost certain to be special. Not only would it be evidence of

one’s own survival but also the survival of the Jewish people. A

child represented the ultimate defeat of Nazism, a life created

against overwhelming odds, and for some, a precious gift of

God. The experiences of the Holocaust resulted in parents with

difficulties in responding correctly to their growing children.

The children were expected to be a reincarnation of those that

were lost, and many were not allowed to live their own

existence. The constant presence of the past, the images of the

concentration camps, the evidence of suffering by their parents:

all made the child relive his parents’ nightmare.

There can be no doubt that the Holocaust changed the lives

of the Jewish people forever. The physical effects, the spiritual

effects, and the healthy survival of the second generation have

continued to plague the Jewish people. As Elie Wiesel wrote

"The world today must learn never to be neutral, never to be

silent when other’s lives or dignity are at stake." The Jewish

people of today are the generation with the responsibility of

insuring that the Holocaust will be remembered. The world as it

was must be remembered by this and future generations.

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