Scrapbookpages Blog

April 24, 2016

Have you ever heard of “Holocaust survivor guilt”?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:07 am

Today, I am writing about a Holocaust news article which I read today:

Why would a Holocaust survivor feel any guilt about surviving? According to the news article, it is because so many others died, but the survivors were somehow saved.

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Begin quote

For many [Holocaust] survivors, it was older and younger relatives who perished in the death camps and at the hands of the mobile killing squads of the Nazis. “Students always ask why people didn’t resist or leave,” said Professor of History Katrin Paehler, who teaches the history of the Holocaust. “I talk about family connections, and that resistance is a young man’s and [young] woman’s game.”


The man in the photo above is Abba Kovner.

Paehler often tells students of Jewish resistance fighter Abba Kovner, a youth leader in the Jewish ghetto of Vilna in the Soviet Union. Kovner took resistance fighters from the ghetto and they actually survived in the forest. “Kovner once said that as he was taking young fighters out of the ghetto, his mother asked him what to do. He left her in the ghetto,” said Paehler. “You can’t take an old woman into the forest and expect her to survive. Yet ever since then, he asked himself, ‘Am I a hero or a bad son?’”

Holocaust survivor guilt can be compounded by the idea that Jews and other targeted groups should have left Europe before they were rounded up. Paehler dismisses this idea as “the gift of hindsight.”

End quote

I wrote about Abba Kovner in this previous blog post: