Like many other Israelis, I try to stay away from the media on Yom Ha’Shoah – National Holocaust Day. I try very hard to avoid watching even a single documentary about the Holocaust. I’ve had enough and more then.
I’m a member of what they call the “third generation”.
Basically, for Israelis, this is how it goes –
First Generation – the people who went through the holocaust (or have had friends/family who have) and arrived in Israel. Most of them re-married and started new families.
Second Generation – their kids, who knew something horrible had happened, but didn’t get the details until much later. Their childhood was in the shadow of “that thing” which there parents never spoke of.
Third Generation – that’s us, who went through the crazy backlash of the 1970’s and 1980’s where schools were obsessed with the holocaust. As a kid, I’ve been through so many survivors’ testimonies, holocaust lessons, holocaust books (K. Zetnik anyone?) and movies, I think I have developed my own version of post traumatic stress syndrome from it all.
I vividly recall this one time where we were sent to a seminar in Kibbutz Lohamei Ha’Geta’ot – Fighters of the Ghettos. It was a nightmare. I’m not even sure how old we were – I suspect that in our early teens. We went through three days of constant “holocaust studies”. Evenings were dedicated to watching holocaust movies.
I don’t think it’s taking it too far, when I say I was scarred for life.
And the pendulum swings again. Myself, like many other parents of my generation, are far more cautious when it comes to telling our children about the holocaust. There will be a day when they will learn all the gory details. When they’re old enough, but not too soon.
I will share with them how their great grandmother was murdered. Under Nazi supervision, Polish workers poured barrels of acid over her and her family and friends, after having pushed them into the mass grave they were forced to dig in the woods. I will share the story of my grieving Grandmother and how she kept looking for her little brother and other family members, and gradually over the years discovered how they were murdered.
I want to give them time first. They need to grow up free from the fear which was instilled in us, free from the nightmares I still have occasionally, about life in the Warsaw Ghetto or in concentration camps.
That’s all I want to say today. I fully realize and am aware of how emotionally intense this day can be. I’m not trying to be controversial, just to share my personal perspective.