Silence has always been a persistent theme in Holocaust studies. How did so many people remain silent as millions of their neighbors were taken off and killed? Why did so few people resist, and why did so many otherwise rational people blindly follow orders and not speak up against the atrocities committed in the name of racial purity? Why did it take so long for survivors to publish accounts of their experiences in the camps? However, it is only recently that people have realized that silence is possibly the most salient connection between survivors and perpetrators of the Holocaust. It is relatively easy to accept that a person who was victimized during the Holocaust would chose not to subject themselves to the trauma of recounting their ordeal. What is not acceptable is how the perpetrators are just as unwilling to examine that part of their history.
[...] She spent a great deal of time with him and would often accompany him to the barracks of concentration camps. On one such visit she is not being carefully supervised, and inadvertently walks into the camp. Here she sees a group of men beating another man dressed in rags. Being the spoiled child she was, she audaciously ran over and started hitting the guards. Soon after this her father was sent to the front line, and she was often told that it was her fault. [...]
[...] Hilda points out the absurdity of this response by responding that she, herself, knew of them as a seven year old child- how could it be that the adults did not know? Her grandmother (on her mothers side) was also an influential figure to Hilda. Her grandmother made her a dress with special, huge pockets which she would fill with sandwiches. Hilda would then take these sandwiches to the road as Jewish girls were being marched by and slyly hand them out. [...]
[...] Nonetheless, her feeling of being torn between her love of her father and the horror of the Nazi policies he implemented is clearly evident, and she is making a valiant effort to come to terms with this paradox. Gerda described her mother as a level headed and religious person. Although there was a definite tension between her mother and her father, her mother stuck up for him continuously, even once the war had ended. Her mother was a stable force in her life, though their relationship was also tense. [...]
[...] Most children were left more or less in the dark when it came to understanding their fathers' role as persecutors in the Holocaust, in part because of societal pressure for women to behave in certain ways. In the typical German family of the 1930's, and even later, the mother was subordinate to her husband's authority. Nazi ideology was male-oriented, and the historic role of the male warrior was exalted highly valued. Thus, women were not apt to undermine this celebrated role their husbands attained by talking of all the awful things they did during the war. [...]
[...] Renate was born during the war, but it was not until 1962, when her father was arrested, that she learned that he had been a member of the SS. Renate's mother was also kept in the dark regarding her husbands activities in the war until a formal investigation was launched and his arrest seemed imminent. Renate did not have the close relationship with her father that Gerda and Hilda did. In fact, she did not miss him when he was away, and she was not happy to have him return. [...]
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