CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST by Helen Epstein

CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For years it lay in an iron box. "It"—her parents' concentration camp experience—haunted Helen Epstein so much that she had to see if others shared her peculiar disease. Although she reaches few definite conclusions, and although the comments of the dozen-plus people she interviewed occasionally stray, her questioning attitude still makes this volume—part-memoir, part-psychological analysis—a start, at least, toward understanding this shared heritage. For Sara, an Israeli teacher married to an American, "it" meant a family life of tension and isolation—"We never sat down at a table together, we never ate together"—while for Rochelle, a young Canadian, the emphasis on a happy family became its own burden, the children having to "make up for everything that had happened." There's a burden, as well, for Eli who undertakes a pilgrimage to his mother's house in Hungary only to fund the villagers suspicious—afraid he wants to repossess property "which had long been nationalized anyway." Most striking of the group is a Southern beauty queen who for her contest entry played Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude," the composition that the Polish radio broadcast continuously during Hitler's invasion. It is really Epstein's involvement, however, that carries the book (dispassion would have been grossly out of place), her own remembrances underscoring her conclusion that, for all the variation, the children resemble the parents: resistance fighters' offspring demonstrate "a pride and strength," survivors who had sealed off the past raise children who construct their own walls. Epstein now sees the need for a community of these survivors' children: her book may help bring it about.
Pub Date: April 23rd, 1979
Page count: 308pp
Publisher: Putnam
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