Granddaughters of the Holocaust: Never Forgetting What They Didn't Experience

Granddaughters of the Holocaust: Never Forgetting What They Didn't Experience

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Nirit Gradwohl Pisano

Series: Psychoanalysis and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781936235889 (hardcover) / 9781618112972 (paper)
Pages: 204 pp.
Publication Date: July 2012

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Granddaughters of the Holocaust: Never Forgetting What They Didn't Experience delves into the intergenerational transmission of trauma to the granddaughters of Holocaust survivors. Although members of this generation did not endure the horrors of the Holocaust directly, they absorbed the experiences of both their parents and grandparents. Ten women participated in psychoanalytic interviews about their inheritance of Holocaust knowledge and memory, and their responses to this legacy. These women provided startling evidence for the embodiment of Holocaust residue in the ways they approached daily tasks of living and being. The resulting narratives revealed that frequently unspoken, unspeakable events are inevitably transmitted to, and imprinted upon, succeeding generations. Granddaughters continue to confront and heal the pain of a trauma they never experienced.


Nirit Gradwohl Pisano (PhD, Clinical Psychology, Adelphi University), is an Israeli-born, American-raised member of the third generation of the Holocaust.


Nirit Gradwohl Pisano offers penetrating interviews with ten women. . .She is insightful and wise, and tells an interesting story that deserves to be followed by additional work with men and with descendants of other genocides.
— Michael Berenbaum, Director of Sigi Ziering Institute, Professor of Jewish Studies, American Jewish University
Dr. Pisano applies psychoanalytic methodology and theory in her writing in such a remarkable way that the psychoanalytic understanding and working through is palpable throughout the whole account without long chapters of explanation and theorizing about it. The narrative does not need that. Instead, it is a thorough and most condensed account of spoken and unspoken, experienced, embodied intergenerationally transmitted trauma that is too much to be dealt with and that still is dealt with in many different ways.
   By telling the stories of ten young women in their twenties and early thirties, Dr. Pisano brings them and their families to life in their individuality and their suffering, their coping and their working through their families’ traumatic heritage.
   In her writing, Dr. Pisano finds a good balance between direct speech of her interviewees and paragraphs of ‘metabolizing’ them. Her book is written in a way that is understandable for a wide range of readers, not only for those in the field of psychoanalysis and psychology. For those who work with intergenerationally transmitted trauma however, this book is a must-read!
— Katharina Rothe, Ph.D., psychologist, psychosocial researcher and author of Das (Nicht-)Sprechen uber die Judenvernichtung ((Non)Speaking about the Extermination of the Jews)