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A review of Legacy of silence: Encounters with children of the Third Reich

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Keene State...

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  1. Introduction
  2. The life of Hilda
    1. The family of Hilda
    2. Her responsibility during the war
  3. The life of Gerda
    1. Her fathers position on the final solution
    2. Gerda's mother
  4. The life of Renate
    1. Renate's family
  5. The life of Monika
    1. Being an ilegitimate child
    2. Monika's description of her mother
  6. The lack of exploration of the effect of womens mothers on them
  7. Conclusion

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. [...]


[...] All of these women were severely effected by their fathers' involvement in the Holocaust, and in many ways they are just now coming to terms with what it means to be a child of a perpetrator. All of them are struggling with guilt and shame that has been amplified and worsened by the post war repression that gripped Germany until just recently. Each of these women claim that they were ignorant to varying degrees about what went on during World War II. [...]

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