THE AFTERMATH by Aaron Hass

THE AFTERMATH

Living with the Holocaust
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A psychiatrist and himself a child of Holocaust survivors, Hass has written a balanced, informative work on former death camp inmates and others who outlived the murderous Third Reich. His book is based on lengthy interviews with 58 survivors from 14 countries, as well as extensive reading of journalistic and clinical studies of survivors. In contrast to the plethora of publications describing this group in terms of pathology, Hass (Psychology/Calif. State Univ., Dominguez Hills) focuses on survivors' postwar adaptability and resilience: A large number married and had children, many after losing their families of origin and first spouses. Yet, unlike William Helmreich's recent Against All Odds, his book doesn't romanticize survivors, noting how many are highly, if understandably, pessimistic, mistrustful, lugubrious, and secretive (Hass claims that most survivors haven't discussed with even their spouses the details of their Holocaust experiences). In an excellent chapter on family life, he observes how survivors, as parents, often invest an inordinate amount of emotional energy in their children, who are seen as new affirmations of life and hope after the Holocaust's unmitigated death world. At times, however, survivors can be overprotective of their children to the point of being emotionally smothering. Hass breaks little new ground, covering issues raised by such other writers as Helen Epstein, Dorothy Rabinowitz, Reeve Robert Brenner, Lawrence Langer, and Helmreich. But his basic format--chapters are usually organized around character traits and emotional states- -works well, and he wisely lets the survivors speak extensively through well-chosen quotes from his interviews and secondary literature. Hass consistently writes clearly and well, with both the empathy of an ``insider'' to the world of survivors and the perspective of a thoughtful social scientist.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-521-47429-9
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Cambridge Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995