Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jewish Holocaust / Genocide Survivors

For Mentally Ill Survivors, Holocaust Lives On
Associated Press dispatch on American Psychological Association, April 11, 2010
"Some patients refuse to shower because it reminds them of the gas chambers. Others hoard meat in pillow cases because they fear going hungry. At the Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center in northern Israel, it's as though the Holocaust never ended. As Israel on Sunday night begins its annual 24 hours of remembrance of the Nazi genocide, the focus is on the 6 million Jews murdered and on the survivors who built new lives in the Jewish state. Much less is ever said about the survivors for whom mental illness is part of the Holocaust's legacy. At Shaar Menashe, patients remain frozen in time. Even today, 65 years after the end of World War II, there are sometimes screams of 'The Nazis are coming!' 'These are the forgotten people. These are the ones who have been left behind, the people who have fallen between the cracks,' said Rachel Tiram, the facility's longtime social worker. Even among survivors with sanity intact, it can take decades to open up about their experiences. Here, most of the patients still won't speak.
They are introverted and unresponsive. They mumble and shake uncontrollably, slump in front of blank TV screens and look aimlessly into the distance while sucking hard on cigarettes. The details of their haunted pasts are sketchy and emerge only from hints in their behavior. Meir Moskowitz, 81, endured pogroms and days inside a cramped cattle car in his native Romania. His body still quivers. During five hours in the company of visitors, he spoke just one word: 'Germania.' Arieh Bleier, a gentle, 87-year-old Hungarian with deep, sullen eyes, survived the Mauthausen concentration camp. His parents and brother perished in Auschwitz. When asked about World War II, he looked away and shook his head. [...]"

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