Reluctant Witnesses: Survivors, Their Children, and the Rise of Holocaust Consciousness by Arlene Stein
For most of the post-war period, the destruction of European Jewry was not a prominent part of American Jewish life and was generally seen as unrelated to non-Jewish Americans. Survivors…
Reluctant Witnesses synopsis
For most of the post-war period, the destruction of European Jewry was not a prominent part of American Jewish life and was generally seen as unrelated to non-Jewish Americans. Survivors and their families tend to maintain themselves, form their own organizations, or do their best to prevent the past.
Today, by contrast, the Holocaust is the subject of documentaries and Hollywood movies, and is widely recognized as a universal moral test. The established witnesses mix notes, history and social analysis to tell the story of the rise of Holocaustconsciousness in the United States from the perspective of the survivors and their descendants.
The book says that the public account with the Holocaust was more than the passage of time. It took the age of majority from the "second generation" - which reached adulthood during the rise of feminism, ethnic revival and therapeutic culture - to the families of the survivors to restore their hidden history.
Inspired by changing the status of the victim in American society, the second generation summoned their parents to share their losses with them, turning the special pains into general stories. Rejectionist witnesses document how a group of people who were not previously recognized and misunderstood could find their voice.
This story tells about the changing situation of shock and victimization in American culture in general. At a time when the sense of exhaustion caused by the Holocaust, and when the rest of them are at the end of their lives, reminds us that the ability to speak frankly of painful experiences must be fought for.
The book says that by confronting painful memories and tragic history, we can make our world mean something beyond our borders.
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