LEGACY OF SILENCE: Encounters with Children of the Third Reich by Dan Bar-On

LEGACY OF SILENCE: Encounters with Children of the Third Reich

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An Israeli psychologist interviews the sons and daughters of Nazi fathers and in the process discovers not only their inner conflicts but his own reasons for hope. Transcribing 13 interviews conducted between 1985-87, Bar-On learns the various methods the ""children of the victimizers"" have developed to deal with their parents' Nazi past. Some, like ""Peter,"" have over the years refused to probe into their fathers' lives. As ""Peter"" says, ""you can't repress what you don't know."" Others, like ""Menachern"" and ""Bernd,"" have found consolation in religion--""Menachem"" by converting to Judaism and becoming a rabbi in Jerusalem, ""Bernd"" by joining a Roman Catholic order and serving lot a while in Africa. One of the must interesting sections here deals with the nephew of Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the Gestapo who ordered the deaths of thousands of Jews. Thomas Heydrich has not only retained the family name but has made a career on the stage, reciting the works of Jewish and anti-Fascist authors. His reminiscences of his childhood as a ""Crown Prince"" of the Nazi elite provide telling behind-the-scenes glimpses of the inner workings of that nefarious band. Interestingly, it is revealed that Thomas' lather, Reinhard Heydrich's brother, was involved in providing forged passports for Jews and committed suicide when he mistakenly believed that he had been discovered. Bar-On conducts his interviews with sensitivily and interprets the various statements with grace and understanding. All in all, then, an impressive achievement and one that adds scope and dimension to an aspect of Holocaust studies.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press