The Dutch Jews who fought back — History of Sorts

Originally posted on History of Sorts: In the Netherlands, the only pre-war group that immediately started resistance against the German occupation was the communist party. During the first two war years, it was by far the biggest resistance organization, much bigger than all other organizations put together. A major act of resistance was the organisation of the February strike in 1941,…

The Dutch Jews who fought back — History of Sorts

Dr. Jan Grabowski’s New Course: The Extermination of Polish Jews, 1939-1945 — Holocaust Studies in Haifa

Dr. Jan Grabowski visited the University of Haifa earlier this Spring. During his visit he gave a lecture on Jews in Poland to our students, and moreover he filmed the videos for an online course which will be available to current students. Dr. Jan Grabowski is a professor at the University of Ottawa, originally from […]

via Dr. Jan Grabowski’s New Course: The Extermination of Polish Jews, 1939-1945 — Holocaust Studies in Haifa

Depravity at the UN Human Rights Council

Anne Bayefsky@AnneBayefsky 10m

at the UN Human Rights Council” by for


For Immediate Release:
July 24, 2014
Follow us on Twitter


Depravity at the UN Human Rights Council

This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on The Jerusalem Post.

The UN Human Rights Council held a special session in Geneva on July 23, 2014 to declare effectively that Israelis do not have human rights. The vote was 29 in favor, 1 against and 17 abstentions.

The Obama administration voted against – after joining and legitimizing the virulently anti-Jewish Council for the past five years, and now feigning disappointment for American cameras.

The Europeans abstained because they did not want to upset their violent Muslim minorities, and because their sordid past didn’t leave the resolution’s message too foreign in any case. A few cowardly countries that Israelis have magnanimously befriended over the years also abstained.

But the majority of the UN world cheered – literally. Speakers during the procession of hatemongers at the Council were greeted with applause.

As is their wont, CNN, the New York Times and company derived from this spectacle the lesson that Israel is pathetic, isolated and doomed.

But the real takeaway is the polar opposite.

Israel really is a light unto the nations.

The light years between the UN “human rights” machinery and genuine human rights is actually pretty obvious. At least to folks without years of foreign policy wonking, diplomatic double-talk language schooling, or blinkered war correspondence training.

Here is how it went down.

The “Human Rights” Council session on Gaza was presided over by President Baudelaire Ndong Ella of Gabon, a member of the Islamic bloc of states (OIC), and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

Pillay retires in August after six years dedicated to the demonization of Israel. A native of Durban, South Africa, Pillay spent her time in office championing the racist anti-racism conference that took place in her hometown in 2001 (after Durban’s mayor requested that she resurrect the city’s good name). She choreographed the second and third UN Durban conferences in 2009 and 2011 that “reaffirmed” the Israel-is-racist canard.

Pillay also initiated, and subsequently became the lead spokesperson for, the 2009 slanderous UN Goldstone report. Though Goldstone himself later recanted the charge, the report accused Israel of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians the last time Israel had the audacity to mount a sustained response to the Hamas killing machine in Gaza.

In short, Pillay was bent on leaving office with a bang. Along with Durban II and III, Goldstone I and II would be her anti-human rights legacy.

Pillay opened the Council session on July 23, 2014. For her, “suffering” was a description applicable only to Palestinians. She carefully presented the charge of “crimes against humanity” – knowing full well that the image projected was one of Israelis as the new Nazis. She simultaneously called for an investigation to discern the facts and recounted a list of supposed Israeli-driven horrors, like killing little children while their pious parents prepared for Muslim rituals. She summed up Israeli operations in Gaza as having “inflicted” “unimaginable death, destruction, terror and life-long consequences.”

The feeding frenzy that followed her at the UN’s highest human rights body was raw unadulterated antisemitism. It was a verbal blitz timed to coincide with the blitz of Hamas rocket attacks that Israelis were experiencing from the skies. The Council session revealed – for the umpteenth time – that these offensives are a continuation of the rejection of a Jewish state, period. Or in the words of Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Maliki himself at the Council, first came the “Israeli atrocities of 1948.” Maliki went on to charge Israel with having “exterminated” Palestinians. His language included: “the smell of death is pursuing Palestinian children because of Israel…who have transformed children into shreds…while they tried to escape the machinery of death.”

Over and over again the despicable antisemitic analogy of Israelis to Nazis was repeated, along with maniacal claims from a parade of human rights abusers. Algeria said “Gaza is a concentration camp.” Sudan said Israel had a “policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide.” Iran claimed Israel was engaged in “massacres and crimes against humanity.” Venezuela said “Israel seeks to exterminate the Palestinian people.” Tunisia said “Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism and is acting in Gaza like the Nazis.” And then there were charges of “barbaric, inhuman acts,” “heinous massacres,” and “crimes unparalleled in recent history.”

In the end, the Human Rights Council’s resolution “deplores” and “condemns in the strongest terms” Israel’s “grave,” “widespread, systematic, and gross” “violations of human rights.” The word “Hamas” is never mentioned.

And the UN launched what might be called Goldstone II – another so-called “human rights” investigation into “violations of law in the occupied Palestinian territory” – not Israeli territory of course.

Goldstone II joins the voluminous UN anti-Israel mechanisms already in operation, such as: the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People; the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories; the UN Division for Palestinian Rights, and the UN Information System on the Question of Palestine.

On top of that, Goldstone I is still alive and kicking. It generates annual reports by the UN human rights commissioner, produced as recently as January 13, 2014. And it spawns annual resolutions by the Human Rights Council calling for its implementation, adopted as recently as March 28, 2014.

Before the vote on the resolution, the UN staff announced that the initial price tag for Goldstone II will be $2,321,500 – twenty-two percent of which will come from the American taxpayer, thanks to Obama’s ownership of the Council. Just on June 19, 2014, Keith Harper, U.S. Ambassador to the Council gushed: “The Obama Administration decided to seek membership because the United States believes the Council can make a difference. And on July 3, 2014 he claimed: “the most powerful tool we wield at the Human Rights Council is information – the ability to bring into stark focus the realities of injustice and abuse in the world…[T]he United Nations Human Rights Council is making a difference.”

What difference is it making?

There have been twice as many urgent debates and special sessions of the Council on Israel in its entire eight-year lifespan than there have been on Syria with upwards of 200,000 dead.

There has never been a single special session on a place like Iran or China or Russia.

One-third of all the resolutions and decisions critical of a single state – for all 193 UN members – have been directed at Israel alone.

There has never been a single resolution on a place like Saudi Arabia or Cuba.

So the difference the UN’s top human rights body is making is the perversion and defeat of human rights – the human rights of Israelis and the human rights of the Jewish people.

We are witnessing a terrible acquiescence to the suffering of the nation of Israel, a nation dedicated to life, freedom and equality. A nation committed to profound spirituality and compassion for all humankind.

Abandon Israel at the peril of all human decency.

The UN is lost. It is not too late for America.

Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her @AnneBayefsky.


For more human rights and United Nations coverage see

Were you forwarded this e-mail by a friend or colleague? Subscribe here.

Re: HOLOCAUST news June 12, 2012 11:42


From: [] On Behalf Of Rick Halperin
Sent: June 12, 2012 11:42
To: HolocaustNews
Subject: Re: HOLOCAUST news



June 12


The many faces of the face of the Holocaust–Considered a soft gateway to
learning about the Holocaust, Anne Frank’s famous diary was given to her 70
years ago for her thirteenth birthday. Today her legacy is stronger than ever —
and used by just about everyone

70 years after receiving a red-checkered diary for her 13th birthday, the
Holocaust’s best-loved victim is channeled and co-opted for a host of purposes,
both noble and tawdry.

Though born in Frankfurt, Germany, Anne Frank grew up and hid from the Nazis in
Amsterdam, the canal-filled Dutch city with a tradition of succoring refugees.
Anne considered herself Dutch above all else, at least until the Nazis forced
her into hiding to unexpectedly probe her Jewish identity.

Because her father, Otto Frank, took abundant photographs of his two daughters,
hundreds of snapshots and portraits document Anne’s development from her birth
in 1929. Most editions of the diary use a doleful, saucer-eyed Anne with
tightly combed hair for their cover, but a manic and teasing Anne Franks exist

The visual record ends in July of 1942, when the Frank family disappears into
hiding. We’ll never know what Anne looked like during her growth spurt or after
two years without sunlight. We do know she filled her “Secret Annex” bedroom
with cut-out faces of laughing babies, movie stars, and a regal Princess
Elizabeth born three years before Anne.

But it’s thanks to her writing, and not decorating skills, that we know
anything about Anne Frank at all. From her first menstruation to sharp rebukes
of adult hypocrisy, Anne discloses the milestones and crises common to most
young women, albiet as a “fugitive” Jew in hiding.

Though Anne names her diary Kitty, young readers can be forgiven for
transforming themselves into Anne’s special friend, sharing what the diarist
called a “grand adventure” with her one entry at a time.

This Buddy Anne is the Anne Frank most of us met first, during our own
adolescent years. Parents and schools relied on Buddy Anne to spoon-feed us a
“soft” introduction to the Holocaust, one which never leaves the cozy Annex. We
experience the roller coaster of puberty and a secret attic romance, without
the gore of what happened to everyone.

Buddy Anne delights in recounting the bathroom rituals of other Annex
residents, not to mention their other habits. She alludes to the persecution of
Jews and the war against Nazism, but mostly sticks to Annex antics and

The antics ended 68 years ago, when the Secret Annex was raided. These days,
Anne’s aptly named first-cousin Buddy Elias tours the world to share memories
of childhood play-dates with Anne: Hollywood dress-up scenes, puppet theaters,
impersonations of the grandparents.

To illuminate the other, less cheerful bookend of Anne’s life, we have Hanneli
Goslar, once Anne’s best friend and now living in Israel.

Goslar saw a starved and delirious Anne during her final weeks at Bergen-Belsen
in Germany, and tells visitors to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem about her friend’s
death just days before the camp’s liberation.

This near-death Anne Frank is almost never encountered in the innumerable
recreations of her story. It took the 2010 authorized Anne Frank Graphic Novel,
of all media, to flesh out what’s euphemistically called “the aftermath” — the
eight months between Anne’s capture and her death.

Except for Otto Frank, all eight Jews in hiding above the canal perished in
Poland and Germany. The survival ratio in the Secret Annex eerily matches that
of Dutch Jewry at large, at about one in five people.

This was the highest rate of Jewish destruction in Europe, but the myth of a
Netherlands saving most of its Jews has persisted, largely thanks to yet
another “face” of Anne Frank.

As the Dutch wartime heroism myth’s primary emblem, Resistance Anne mentions at
least one-dozen Dutch men and women who sustained the Jews in hiding. She lauds
Dutch morality and hutzpa, but does not mention the 25,000 Dutchmen who
volunteered with the SS to drag Jews from hiding and deport them.

Resistance Anne is a palliative, soul-soothing Anne Frank, one who plasters
over Dutch wartime collusion with the Nazis to see the glass as half-full. She
famously believes that “people are really good at heart,” though her story and
the fate of Dutch Jewry prove just the opposite.

In the shadow of Anne’s beloved Westerkerk bell tower perches a life-size,
expressionless Anne Frank statue. Across town in the defunct Jewish Quarter, a
quiet, non-descript Anne Frank side-street fills in for what was once known as
Europe’s Jerusalem.

While Resistance Anne conveys a particular narrative for Dutch consumption,
Universal Anne eschews the particular to forge links between other persecutions
and the girl who wanted “to live beyond her death.”

Close to the Westerkerk’s Anne Frank statue, embedded beneath tourists’ feet in
the church square, several large pink triangles replace the cobblestones. One
of the triangles points to the Anne Frank House, just a few chestnut trees

Evocative of badges the Nazis forced Jews and other target groups to wear, the
pink triangles commemorate persecution of gays and lesbians. Memorial and
activist events are held in the square throughout the year, elevating the
“lesson” of the Holocaust to speak for other injustices.

The advent of Universal Anne owes much to Anne’s father, who made it his
post-war mission to universalize Anne’s story apart from its specific, Jewish

“I think it is not only important that people go to the Anne Frank House to see
the Secret Annex, but also that they are helped to realize that people are also
persecuted today because of their race, religion or political convictions,”
Otto Frank said in 1970.

At the Anne Frank House itself, more than one-million visitors a year learn
about the Holocaust’s universal “implications” through a rotating exhibit next
to the Annex.

The current exhibit, Free2Choose, explores the conflict between different kinds
of rights in diverse societies. An interactive voting system logs visitor
responses to scenarios involving freedom of speech, religion, and other issues.

In 2004, Anne’s childhood home in Amsterdam’s River Quarter was turned into a
guest residence for foreign journalists facing persecution in their home
countries. Across the world near New York’s World Trade Center site, a new Anne
Frank Center USA educates through multicultural recordings of the diary and a
focus on “independent thinking.”

Closely related to Universal Anne is the most tragic Anne of all, Misused Anne.
This Anne does not educate or commemorate. Instead, she is misappropriated to
“speak” for contemporary issues from the dead. Buyer beware, because this Anne
Frank has been known to run her mouth.

In February, Misused Anne made headlines when Mormons in the Dominican Republic
“baptized” her in a proxy ritual. Mormon communities have actually baptized
Anne Frank at least nine times, as well as a slew of other prominent Holocaust

In North Korea, Anne’s diary is used to teach children about the imperialist
aims of “American Nazis,” while a Virginia school district recently banned the
diary on the grounds of “sexual content and homosexual themes.” Truly, there’s
something for everyone at the buffet for the disgruntled the diary has become.

Recently, writer Nathan Englander published his book “What We Talk About When
We Talk About Anne Frank.” According to Englander, the name Anne Frank is
Jewish code-speak for the gnawing question, “Who among my gentile friends would
hide me in another Holocaust?”

Englander’s contemporary, Shalom Auslander, can also be counted on to quarry
whatever hasn’t already been hacked out of the Frank legacy. The formerly
Orthodox, foreskin-obsessed author recently took Peter Roth’s cue and
resurrected Anne for his own literary purposes, with mixed results.

In this year’s “Hope: A Tragedy,” Auslander’s Anne Frank is a hideously-groomed
crone, secretly living in someone’s attic and typing her second novel. Between
taunting the main character about his Jewish neuroses and picking her teeth,
this Anne delivers gems like: “Jesus was a Jew, but I’m the Jewish Jesus.”

Less amusingly, Auslander’s Misused Anne rants about the Israeli-Arab conflict,
claiming to deplore Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as “genocide.” This
view of Israel is readily shared by most Europeans, who view Israel as the
gravest threat to world security.

On California campuses, Misused Anne has appeared clad in an Arafat-esque
keffiyeh, denouncing Israeli “apartheid” and alleged human rights abuses. This
“occupied” Anne calls Israel “the Fourth Reich” and condemns “Zio-Nazis” for
refusing to relinquish Jewish sovereignty.

Though she hasn’t written a word since 1945, Anne Frank appears in the news
every day of the year, and the curtain falls on a production of her diary
somewhere each night. Her enigma only grows, even as the last people who knew
her die along with other Holocaust survivors.

The chestnut tree Anne admired while in hiding is also close to death, but
saplings from it have been planted at some of the world’s 200 Anne Frank
schools. New life and “uses” for her legacy will blossom, popping up like the
30 sites on a new mobile phone application, “Anne’s Amsterdam.”

In her final diary entry, Anne says she is a “little bundle of contradictions.”
Some of these contradictions are revealed in annual passport photos she took,
with 48 sundry Anne Frank headshots per sheet. Other, deeper contradictions
have been exhumed by diary readers in the seven decades since her death. It all
depends on which Anne Frank you’re looking to find.

(source: Times of Israel)


Hate graffiti sprayed at Israel Holocaust memorial

Vandals spray-painted anti-Zionist graffiti at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust
memorial, its chairman said Monday, suggesting radical ultra-Orthodox Jews were
to blame.

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev told Army Radio that anti-Zionist graffiti was
painted at 10 spots across the memorial compound, including a slogan that read,
“Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust,” and, “Jews, wake up, the evil Zionist
regime doesn’t protect us, it jeopardizes us.”

“It’s a very grave crossing of a red line,” Shalev said. Asked if he suspected
radical ultra-Orthodox Jews were to blame, he said the slogans were written in
excellent Hebrew handwriting and one was signed “world ultra-Orthodox Jewry.”

Many Ultra-Orthodox Jews are anti-Zionist because they think a Jewish state
should not be established before the coming of the Messiah. Some subscribe to
the conspiracy theory that Israel’s founders colluded with Hitler to achieve
their goal of establishing a state for Jews.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the case was under investigation but no
suspects had been identified.

(source: Associated Press)


Yad Vashem entrance vandalized

The entrance to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem was vandalized

Museum workers discovered the damage upon arriving on the premises Monday

According to available details, unknown vandals sprayed graffiti reading
“Hitler, thanks for the Holocaust” and “If Hitler didn’t exist the Zionists
would have had to invent him” on one of the walls.

Some 10 other slogans of the same nature were daubed in several other areas as
well, including “Israel is the secular Auschwitz of the Sephardic Jewry,” and
“Jews wake up – the Zionist regime is dangerous.”

One of the slogans was reportedly signed “The global Zionist mafia” and another
was signed “the global haredi Jewry.”

Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vshem, said: “I’m appalled by this blatant act of
hatred towards the state and towards Zionism. This has crossed a red line. I’ve
informed the education minister of this incident and he too was outraged.”

‘Enough with manipulative Shoah services in Auschwitz’

The Holocaust Survivors’ umbrella group expressed outrage over the act: “We
demand that the police commissioner appoint a special taskforce to find the
people behind this act,” CEO Avi Rosenthal said.

Crime scene investigators were sent to the museum to collect evidence.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that the police were investigating
the case, adding that no suspects have been identified yet.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch spoke with Jerusalem District
Police Commander Niso Shaham regarding the investigation

“We have to find these perpetrators as soon as possible. This was a heinous
crime against one of the State of Israel’s most prominent symbols. I’m appalled
and outraged,” Aharonovitch said.

‘Neturei Karta not involved’

Despite the supposed radical-haredi indicators to the incident, it was
denounced by the extremist Neturei Karta sect.

Mordechai Hirsch, one of the sect’s leaders, told Ynet that Monday’s vandalism
was not the work of any of the group’s activists and pointed the finger at the
radical Right, suggesting the incident was in fact a “price tag” act.

“None of our people were involved in this,” he stressed. “But I can’t comment
on something I haven’t seen for myself.”

Another source, affiliated with the extremist Eda Haredit sect, said that while
some may identify with the similar acts, none in the sect would endorse
vandalizing a place like Yad Vashem.

“These kind of slogans are beneath even the biggest anti-Semites in the world,
he added. “This was probably done by the lunatic fringe – and they don’t
represent anyone. These people are truly sick.”

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Research Center was established in 1953. It
is dedicated to commemoration of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis
during World War II.

(source: YNetNews)


Recognizing delayed PTSD in Holocaust survivors

The first time Sonia Reich was hunted by the Nazis, she was an 11-year-old
orphan, seeking refuge in the Polish countryside.

The second time was almost 60 years later, on a quiet street in the Chicago
suburb of Skokie, Ill. That time, however, the pursuit was happening solely in
her head.

“I received a call at midnight saying that my mother had run out of her house
and been picked up by the Skokie police,” said her son, Howard, a Chicago arts
critic. Sonia had been screaming that someone was trying to kill her. “I
couldn’t even comprehend that,” he recalled. “I thought it was a dream.”

Like many Holocaust survivors, Sonia Reich was not offered therapy after the
war, and she never talked about her experiences. She spent five decades as an
active suburban mother and wife. But as Sonia entered her 60s, after her
husband died, her children began to notice some odd survivalist behavior, such
as sleeping with an ax under her pillow and bringing her own water to
restaurants. “But we did not connect those behaviors with what she went through
as a child in the Holocaust,” Howard Reich said.

No one did. After the midnight incident, Sonia Reich was moved into a nursing
home, where her delusions continued. She accused the staff of throwing bugs at
her, calling her a prostitute, and stealing her food.

Eventually, Howard Reich consulted a specialist in geriatric mental health, and
got a diagnosis for his mother: late-onset post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD). While the label came as a surprise to her family, who thought she had
risen above her past, researchers are increasingly focusing on the boomerang
effect of psychological trauma. They are finding that the passage of time does
not always diminish traumatic symptoms, and in fact, the physical, mental, and
social changes that come with age can aggravate them.

In the DSM IV — the standard manual of psychiatric diseases — late-onset or
delayed PTSD is described as a collection of debilitating symptoms, from
flashbacks to nightmares, that start at least six months after the traumatic
event. In the case of Holocaust survivors, the incubation period can be decades
longer — although researchers debate whether the symptoms are entirely new or,
rather, intensified versions of what survivors have been secretly coping with
throughout their lives.

“For some people, it may have been behaviors that have just been building,”
said Elihu Kover, director of Nazi Victim Services for Selfhelp Community
Services Inc. The New York agency oversees the care of 5,000 survivors, some of
whom hoard rotting food, refuse to take showers, or accuse social workers of
stealing their possessions. Kover thinks many survivors had learned to cover
those behaviors during their busy, productive years. “When you’re older and
your mind is slipping, then you’re not covering it anymore,” he said.

Many Holocaust experts say the problem is surfacing now, in part, because few
survivors got psychiatric help early on. Certainly some suffered immediately
from what would later be called PTSD, including severe anxiety and depression.
But many appeared highly resilient as they focused on work, school, and family
— and lodged their worst memories deep in their subconscious.

Brookline-based Auschwitz survivor Michael Kraus was among those. He lost both
his parents in the concentration camps. After liberation, he stayed with
American cousins while he went back to school. “Their attitude was, you are in
a new environment, and you should start from scratch and forget everything
else,” he said.

Psychologists say that strategy can work for years, and then just stop. In some
cases, long-dormant memories are triggered by the trappings of old age itself.
Loss of independence, the death of a spouse, chronic illness, social isolation,
or physical decline — all have grim associations to a Holocaust survivor.

“Being in poor condition (at Auschwitz) meant that you will not live. Survival
depended purely on your condition,” said Kraus, who, at 81, still goes in every
day to the Boston architecture firm where he has worked for 40 years, in part
to keep active and avoid being overtaken by his past.

Kraus is still mentally sharp, but for some survivors, cognitive decline adds
to the confusion between past and present. Vancouver-based psychiatrist Robert
Krell, who lectures on aging survivors, says dementia can eat away at the
protective walls erected by the mind years earlier. His own father, a
concentration camp survivor, was in a nursing home with early dementia when he
pointed to a caretaker and confided to his son, “Rob, be careful of her, she’s

With the average survivor now around 80, their population is dwindling, but the
thousands still living in the United States will need considerable geriatric
and psychiatric care over the next two decades. Their advocates wonder if the
medical community is prepared.

In the past few decades, prominent scholars and psychiatrists, from Elie Wiesel
to Haim Dasberg, have written about reemerging trauma in elderly Holocaust
survivors, and the topic has been studied by the Veterans Administration. One
support organization in Israel, Amcha, estimates that 40 to 65 percent of
survivors are experiencing the late effects of trauma.

Yet many nursing homes and geriatric caregivers are unaware of the phenomenon.
Kathy Bowen, a social worker in Springfield, saw it happen to one of her
elderly Jewish clients. For 40 years, he had never spoken of his time in
concentration camps. Then one day he broke his hip and entered a rehab

“He was combative, he was screaming, he was having auditory hallucinations,”
Bowen said. “When people in white coats were coming toward him, he was

Bowen said the nursing home staff had no idea what was causing this behavior in
someone who previously showed no signs of delusions. She learned from online
research that entering a locked facility is a common trigger for late-onset
PTSD, so she urged the staff to approach him more gently, scale back his
sedatives, and coax him back to the present.

Sonia Reich’s caregivers initially attributed her behavior to Alzheimer’s
disease, but her son pointed out that she was alert, recognized all her family
members, and could still absorb new information.

It took Howard Reich a year before he found a psychiatrist who linked his
mother’s symptoms to her past trauma. “The [first] doctors missed it. Even
though the hospital records that I obtained said, ‘69-year-old Holocaust
survivor, who believes her life’s in danger and the dogs are chasing her,’ they
never made that connection,” he said. His efforts to understand the diagnosis,
and educate other survivor families, became the subject of his book and
documentary, “Prisoner of Her Past.”

Kover, of Selfhelp, says most caregivers and nursing homes aren’t used to
seeing Holocaust survivors, so they don’t recognize a pattern in their odd
behaviors. Agencies such as his that specialize in aging survivors train social
workers to avoid obvious trauma triggers. They learn not to throw out a
client’s food or belongings without permission and not to hold buffet dinners,
because standing in line can remind survivors of the camps.

“We’re not going to cure their history. We probably aren’t going to cure their
psychological issues,” said Kover, “but we can understand them, and
understanding it helps us find a way to deal with them.”

As for full-blown cases of late-onset PTSD, psychiatrists recommend
anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications, as well as cognitive behavior
therapy, a type of counseling meant to uncouple traumatic memories from the
fears associated with them. Some therapists help elderly survivors record their
Holocaust narrative, as a way to gain control over memory fragments. But
specialists say the longer the symptoms have festered, the harder they are to

For Sonia Reich, nothing has worked. Howard Reich says her case is so severe
that she doesn’t trust any doctors and believes she is in immediate danger. She
even sees a yellow Star of David on her clothes, like the ones the Nazis forced
Jews to wear.

Nevertheless, despite the pain of seeing her now, Reich thinks his mother’s
previous ability to submerge her Holocaust memories is the reason she was able
to live well for 50 years. “People say to me, ‘If only she’d talked about it,
it would be much better.’ Well, that is not necessarily true,” he said. “Some
people’s way of dealing with memory is to put it aside. That is their defense
mechanism. And that enabled people like my mother to have a beautiful life in
America with a husband and house and a family and all those great things.”

(source: Boston Globe)