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#4081 - 09/04/02 05:31 PM Holocaust
JamesMichael Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/24/02
Posts: 134
A few years ago, I had the privelege to hear Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein speak. Her statement 'look for what was there, not for what wasn't' struck me as call not to dwell exceedingly on past pain without some effort to discern some bit of good that's also there. (Roy, think of Viktor Frankl's book). She wrote a book, "All But My Life." I'm sharing some of the words from the epilogue of her book here because I think many of us can empathize with the emotional and psychological (PTSD) experiences she descibes. Maybe we can be encouraged by a fellow (sister) survivor of a different sort.

Excerpts:

1. Survival is both an exalted privilege and a painful burden.

2. I realize that it is impossible to do justice to ... years of memory. The acuteness of those recollections often penetrates the calm of my daily life, forcing me to confront painful truths but clarifying much through the very act of evocation. I have learned, for the most part, to deal with those truths, knowing well that a painful memory brought into focus by a current incident still hurts, but also that the pain will recede--as it has--and ultimately fade away.

3. I deeply want to belong. And I am still fearful of rejection, feeling I have no right to criticize, only an obligation to help correct.

4. The pain and loss I experienced ... obliterated the nostalgic thoughts of a childhood home for which I yearn.

5. I had to do something.

6. I can identify with them (abused children, and others), because I know what it is like not to be able to communicate one's pain and hope.

7. My experience has taught me that all of us have a reservoir of untapped strength that comes to the fore at moments of crisis.

8. There are, however, pains that will not go away, adding their burden over extended periods of time. They are more infrequent, but when they recur, they often cut far deeper. Though I know their roots, I am still unable to deal with them; I am resigned to accepting the small, indelible scars they leave each time.

These statements put into words much of what I feel as a survivor. To know that they're spoken from deep loss and pain validates my loss and pain. I cried when she finished her talk. Pain. Release.

What do you guys think?

All But My Soul,

James

(Thanks for the encouragement Lloydy).


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#4082 - 09/04/02 07:36 PM Re: Holocaust
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
We gain strength from so many unexpected places James.
And the humility and insight of people like Gerda Weissmann spreads amongst all those of us who are hurt.

Lloydy

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#4083 - 09/04/02 08:49 PM Re: Holocaust
ARW Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/29/02
Posts: 161
Loc: LA
Lovely, deep words, James. Thank you.

_________________________
In every cry of every man,
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear.
-William Blake

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#4084 - 09/06/02 04:40 PM Re: Holocaust
Don-NY Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 546
Loc: Long Island, NY
Her title says it all, "ALL BUT MY LIFE".

It is a terrible fact that there are so many parallels between our lives and those of Holocaust Survivors, and torture Survivors, and War Survivors and on and on and on.

They didn't take our lives, but they did hijack them for years and years.

Sometime in my late 20's, I heard a man on a TV talk show speaking about his life. He was an international lawyer, specializing in children's rights, and a Holocaust Survivor.

One of the things he said was "The world can end on a bright, sunny afternoon".

I didn't acknowledge or remember all this yet, but I had been repeatedly abused on bright summer afternoons and then raped on a beautiful warm summer evening.

His words bored into me and affected and touched me. They spoke to me, but I did not understand why.

He too had written a book, which I went and got and devoured. I can't recall his name right now, or the book's title, but I will look for it.

He had a normal average life until he was six and then he was in the camps. He became a "survival machine". He recalls stealing food from the weak and elderly and becoming nothing more than a thing which did what it must to go on. He was interred for many years.

Most of the book is about how he reclaimed his life and his humanity. How he forgave himself for the things he did in the camps to survive.

How he learned and overcame and dedicated his life to the young, so what had happened to him could never happen again.

When I read this book, it actually changed my life for a time. I did not yet know myself as a sexual abuse victim, as a man who had been raped as a child. I've said this before, but I repeat, I didn't yet recognize the abuse as destructive and the rape was still a buried memory.

But this book gave me great strength. I got sober, and went back to school, and got into a career and profession I loved (still do) and began to enjoy my life for a time.

It all fell apart later, but that's another story.

My point is I recognized the commonality of feelings and reactions and struggles and was able to use it to lift myself up for a time. I am sure that it has also helped me in ways that I can't always express - maybe, in understanding, acceptance, and compassion.

Thanks for posting this, JM.

Donald
----------------------------------------------------
You can be Captain of your ship, but not of the Sea

_________________________
If you understand everything, some things are just as they are. If you understand nothing, things are still just as they are.

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#4085 - 09/06/02 05:04 PM Re: Holocaust
JamesMichael Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/24/02
Posts: 134
Don, please see private message. JM


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#4086 - 09/09/02 04:51 AM Re: Holocaust
Don-NY Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 546
Loc: Long Island, NY
The book I referred to is called "Of Blood and Hope", by Dr. Samuel Pisar.

Dr. Pisar is a resident of NYC and Paris, and is still actively involved in Human Rights issues and movements. He has frequently addressed Political, Religious, and Academic conferences and World Leaders.

_________________________
If you understand everything, some things are just as they are. If you understand nothing, things are still just as they are.

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