Children during the Nazi Reign: Psychological Perspective on the Interview Process

Children during the Nazi Reign: Psychological Perspective on the Interview Process

Children during the Nazi Reign: Psychological Perspective on the Interview Process

Children during the Nazi Reign: Psychological Perspective on the Interview Process

Synopsis

This work shows how interviews help child survivors of the Jewish experience during World War II. It is unique in that it features different aspects of the interviewer-interviewee relationship. The contributions are personal as well as analytical in nature, and the narrative is an informed psychological analysis. The work should be of interest to Holocaust centers, researchers, oral historians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, sociologists, and trauma researchers as well as survivors.

Excerpt

Judith S. Kestenberg

This volume is dedicated to the memory of my husband, Milton Kestenberg, a lawyer who initiated the International Study of Organized Persecution of Children During the Holocaust, a project sponsored by Child Development Research on which this book is based.

Our study explores the effect of persecution in childhood and the effect of indoctrination of children to persecute others. The goal is to understand the psychic development of children when they have been trained to perceive themselves as inferior or superior in a social milieu in which to be Aryan is of a higher order than to be non-Aryan. What of this socialization is retained in adulthood despite the changes in the current social structure (Bergmann &Jucovy, 1982)?

People engaged in similar studies ask themselves what can be done to reeducate these generations and teach them justice for all. To pursue these ends, we began to interview people who were persecuted by the Nazis as well as those who as children were trained to believe in their own superiority and their duty to persecute others.

Although the formal aspect of this study began in 1981, it has its foundation about twenty years earlier, at the time when Milton represented numerous clients who applied for indemnification to the West German government. To lay grounds for their claims, he had to help them document their life under the Nazi reign, which left a lasting effect on their present- day behavior.

The whole indemnification system acted as a state insurance or a workman compensation court. The survivors were treated as if they were . . .

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