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Links to Recordings of the Three-Part Series “The Voices of Descendants of Holocaust Survivors in Writing”

Over the past few months, I had the honor of presenting a program hosted by the Museum of Jewish Heritage which focused on published authored who are descendants of Holocaust survivors. The unique focus of these meetings was on works that, while exploring the history of the generation that survived the Holocaust and WWII, the writers of the so-called ‘second’ and ‘third’ generation expressed their own voices and the experience of growing up with the omnipresent absence of family members, of knowledge about the past, and shared their inner and actual voyage to understand what was never spoken about because of the magnitude of trauma. The expression of the impact of intergenerational transmission in the writing of two generations of descendants can offer poignant and valuable lessons for our encounter with current families of trauma survivors, immigrants and refugees.

The first segment hosted Swedish author Goran Rosenberg, author of the book “A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz”, and Dr. Talila Kosh-Zohar, who authored the book “Martha’s Notebooks” (in Hebrew) which is currently being translated to English (The conversation can be viewed at : ).

The second segment in our series hosted two writing groups. The Israeli writing group consisted of ‘second generation’ who are professionals from different disciplines, including neurology, psychology, theater, art and more, who met over a period of four years at the Van Lear Institute in Jerusalem. Initiated as a research project with the aim of contemplating a multidisciplinary approach to the shaping of the memory of the Holocaust, their work together has also led to the exploration of each member’s own personal story. The multidisciplinary perspectives of the group were published in the book “But There Was Love There” (in Hebrew), edited by Michal Govrin, Daphna Freebach-Chefets and Eti Ben-Zaken. The book is currently being translated into English. Another outcome of the work of this group was a Holocaust-commemoration Haggadah was which was adapted to English and published by the Shalom Hartman Institute and is available at this link. Another writing group met over several years in Ann-Arbor, Michigan, and published an anthology of the personal stories of the participants, in a book titled “The Ones Who Remember” edited by Rita Benn, Julies Goldstein Ellis, Joy Wolf Ensor and Ruth Finkel Wade. (This conversation can be viewed at

The third and last segment of our three-part program, “The Voices of Descendants of Holocaust Survivors in Writing” was a conversation with writers who were both ‘third generation’. Emanuel Rosen, the grandson of Dr. Hugo Mendel and his wife Lucie, and Noah Lederman, the grandson of Hadasa and Leon Lederman. Each man went on a long and arduous journey in search of clues about the history of their grandfathers. Each published a book, the culmination of the personal odyssey they have gone through over a period of ten years of interviews, research, and international travelling undertaken in the hope of collecting clues to better understand the story of their grandparents. “A World Erased: A Grandson’s Search for His Family’s Holocaust Secrets,” is Noah’s Lederman’s story of the painstaking, piecemeal collection of fragments from many conversation with his grandmother after she was widowed, and his extensive research and visit in his grandparents’ town in Poland. “If Anyone Calls, Tell Them I Died” is Emanuel Rosen’s story of the attempt to understand the tragic death of his grandfather, Dr. Hugo Mendel, who succeeded in saving his family from the atrocities of the Holocaust by leaving his comfortable life in Germany as an established lawyer, and immigrating to then-Palestine in 1933. However, uprooted, uable to practice in his profession, after a visit to Germany, 24 years from the time he was expelled from there, Dr. Mendel committed suicide.  The third segment can be viewed at :

These stories highlight the variability in background, in the trauma suffered, in the capacity to adapt to life post-trauma, and the continued presence of the gaping holes that are left by trauma in the lives of survivors, their children, and their grandchildren. The stories also manifest the resilience, courage, altruism and love that are the legacy of people whose humanity endured the worst.

            Irit Felsen


  1. Jana Zimmer says

    Thank you for this series. I hope you are able to obtain and read my book, Chocolates from Tangier- I would be most appreciative of any comments you might have. [It is available from the publisher, Doppelhouse Press and/or Amazon as an e book] I am engaged in community education work with synagogues, churches, schools and community centers and I hope to use my book across disciplines as a tool for reconciliation and/or healing. Any comment or guidance you may give would be appreciated.

    • Irit Felsen, Ph.D. says

      Dear Jana,

      I am grateful to you for letting me know about your book. I can’t tell you when I will get to it, I am always reading and am always behind the reading I want to do…There is only so many hours in the day and I have a few pressing deadlines ahead of me. I am sure you also have a lot of commitments and can relate to it.

      With warm regards,


  2. Mary Kaufman says

    Wonderful important and needed. Our stories must go on.

    • Irit Felsen, Ph.D. says

      Thank you so much, Mary!

      I appreciate very much the wonderful feedback I have received for the program! It is very encouraging and I will share it with the Museum public programming person, Sydney Jaeger, who helped on the organizing, publicizing and hosting the program.


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