Many Jewish families who descend from people who made it safely out of Germany during the Nazi era can relate to that statement. Their grandparents and great grandparents didn't talk about the holocaust.
I have told my own story many times, and almost every time I am greeted with a similar story in return. My great grandparents left Berlin very early, just after the Nazi's came to power. They first went to Switzerland to ride it out, and then moved to New York when it looked like it wasn't going to end soon. They sponsored and helped many many friends and family to get out. We were the lucky ones, and it was due to great grandmother's insight and insistence that saved so many of our ilk.
Well, that's the story I was told, and that story is true to a point. What is left out of that story is that they left about 50% of their wealth behind, and lost a great deal of close friends and close family members. Close family members, like sisters! My great grandfather lost three sisters. I never ever heard about this growing up. I found them on my own when I started building the family tree. And what's worse is that they were married, and had children. All three were lost with their husbands, and one was lost with her two children. Amazingly, three of the children survived.
These are my grandfather's aunts, uncles, and cousins. And, not a word. In my research I found name after name after name. The Germans kept great records, and I have transport numbers, deportation dates, deaths. Everything. I now have a rather large list of my related holocaust martyrs, which is incredibly poignant and painful to read.
Auschwitz concentration camp
Why didn't they talk about the horrors of losing family in the holocaust? I think there is a few reasons for this:
- It was too painful to think back and remember all the uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, assorted in-laws, and friends who didn't get out.
- They didn't think we were ready to hear stories about such atrocities and nightmare (you don't tell grandchildren horror stories), and by the time we were old enough they were gone.
- Survivors guilt hitting them, as they made it out and many others didn't.
- The dream of starting over, and letting the younger generation move forward unencumbered.
- Denial. How could this happen to us. If we don't talk about it, maybe it will all go away.
Please comment with your own reasons.