Moos, Merilyn. “Breaking the Silence: Voices of the British Children of Refugees from Nazism”, Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015.
British Children of the Holocaust
I have really never given much thought to how ethnocentric we become and how much the country in which we live in takes importance over all others. In fact, world politics are not so interesting if they do not directly touch us wherever we may live. I know this is true for me. When I lived in Israel what was happening in the States did not affect me unless Israel was directly involved. However, I must say that we did pay attention to Iran but Nixon’s resignation seemed unimportant to us. After all, we had a nation to build. Now back in America, I am only really concerned how what happens in America affects my personal safety and the safety of my other homeland Israel. I really could care less about the British monarchy and who is having the next heir to the throne. Along those same lines is the story of the impact of the Holocaust on the children of the survivors who left Germany before the genocide of the Nazi party. I really never thought about it and certainly did not consider it important enough to think about. In this case I am so wrong and with the release of Merilyn Moos’ “Breaking the Silence”, I realize that. I have friends and acquaintances that tell me, ”Enough with the Holocaust already”— they have seen and heard too much but I feel that we have not yet learned enough and that the Holocaust is not just a defining point in the history of the Jewish religion but of the history of the world.
Little work has looked at children whose parents fled Nazi persecution before the Holocaust and even less attention has been paid to those who ended up in Britain from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
It is only natural to want to know what the impact was on the second generation. How did it shape and/or alter their lives? By interviewing these now grown children, we get an look at their lives that is both qualitative and interdisciplinary. How does one react knowing that his/her parents escaped persecution yet so many others did not? We are given an insight into how fear of persecution and exile of their parents plays into their own lives and how some are haunted by the pasts and others cannot remember because they do not want to. We see the long-lasting effects of trauma for the children of those exiled who came to Britain from Nazi Germany. The children here speak in their own words and a commentary is provided that is moving and incredibly fascinating. The second generation of German refugees in the United Kingdom have indeed been affected by what their parents suffered and their silence about it. Sometimes silence is the most difficult part of suffering.