Three Generations of Holocaust Survivors

Several authors from UNYP and the National Institute of Mental Health and CEITEC (the Central European Institute of Technology) have written a research article on the effects of the Holocaust. The study was carried out thanks to the support of GACR (Grant Agency of the Czech Republic) and organized by CEITEC leader prof. MUDr. Ivan Rector, CSc.  

Because psychological consequences of the Holocaust trauma primarily have been studied in Israeli, North American, and Western European populations, studies from other countries are valuable because very few transgenerational data come from post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The Holocaust survivors suffered from extreme, long-term stress during World War II (WWII), in many cases experiencing complex trauma at critical developmental phases that destabilized core elements of the self and one’s interpersonal relationships.  

The study focuses on three generations living in the Czech Republic and Slovakia after World War II (WWII) – Holocaust survivors (ages 71–95), Holocaust survivors’ children (ages 30–73), and their grandchildren (ages 15–48). Authors compared the scores in posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth inventories (PTSD Checklist – Civilian Version, PCL-C; Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, PTGI) in three focal samples with age-matched comparisons. Higher scores in posttraumatic stress were found in the first and third generations, while the second generation did not show any differences in either category compared to the general population. The third generation was significantly higher in posttraumatic stress than the first generation. Higher scores of posttraumatic growth were found only in the first generation. The reasons for the absence of higher PTSD and PTG scores in the second generation of Czech and Slovak Holocaust survivors’ offspring require further investigation. 

The authors discuss these results in the historical and political context of post-war Czechoslovakia. The manuscript was accepted to the Journal of Traumatic Stress. From UNYP, Edel Sanders and Marek Preiss are among the co-authors. 

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