Children of the Holocaust: Writers of the Next Generation

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I attended a wonderful event at the CUNY Graduate Center last night with my husband. The event invited second-generation writers, artists, and thinkers to speak about the trauma they "inherited" from parents who lived through the Holocaust. This is exactly the subject I am exploring through my project, so the evening resonated strongly with me and offered plenty of inspiration for my work.  

Excerpted from the event description: This evening of powerful readings features new works by writers, artists, and thinkers who never lived through the Holocaust but who “inherited” its trauma. For these “children of the Holocaust,” whose relatives escaped from or died in the Shoah, it is relived, reimagined, and passed on across time."

Jeremy Eichler's talk especially resonated with what I am trying to do in my Mischlinge Exposé. He used Steve Reich's "Different Trains" as his musical example. I will just mention a few of his points that I found especially relevant: 

He talked about using music as a gateway to memory, but worked through questions of whether memory in music is capable of engaging our memory even if the music's memories are not our own... Music is a medium of memorializations, able to communicate meaning without the use of language: memory inscribed in sound (particularly in works like the Reich piece). Music is the language where language ends, which makes it especially useful for communicating the Holocaust; it requires an oblique approach due to the depth of the trauma involved. Confronting it head-on is daunting; we are living far away from the Holocaust now and we are still unable to escape its shadow. The past is always conferring its shape on the present... Music like Reich's Different Trains (and like my Mischlinge Exposé) oscillates between spoken and unspoken, so there are different forms of communication in the same piece. 

I also felt strongly about Leon Botstein's portion of the event, having a prior interest in his work. Leon had an aunt who was a devout Catholic, and who rescued and hid Jews during the war. She is remembered at Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. I will paraphrase a few of my notes from his talk: 

In his experience, the War and the world before it dominated all conversations. His parents' friends from Europe would visit and speak about Gymnasium, with thick accents (which was exactly my experience when my godparents came for dinner)...

In contrast to the above paragraph, everything was also about the present and future. They were proud of US citizenship (my father was also very forward looking). In the US, they were no longer victims.