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By Ronald J. Berger

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Extra resources for Constructing a collective memory of the Holocaust: a life history of two brothers' survival

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56 But as the following life history indicates, some Jews' ability to exercise agency to stay alive under these structural conditions of extremity was influenced by their prewar exposure to cultural schemas and resources that they Page 10 were able to transpose to the war-occupation context. As the eminent Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg argues, "Survival was not altogether random. Although the German destruction process was a massive leveler, it did not obliterate" all prewar differences. However, he adds, these differences acquired new meaning during the Nazi period.

Although genocides are nonroutine, they are recurrent social phenomena. Analyses of survivors' experiences can help inform us about how individuals survive such ruptures in everyday life and, more generally, how people respond to and overcome adversity. S. 27 In the first decade after the war the suppression of memory of the Jewish experience was also apparent in the relationships survivors had with those outside of the survivor community. "28 Survivors who wanted to forget their trauma were also encouraged to do so by others around them who wanted to put the war in the past and move on with their lives.

It was as if they were comparing their suffering with ours. Perhaps they felt guilty about what happened to their European relatives that they either didn't do enough to help them or didn't dare to protest strongly. So we actually stopped talking about it. "86 During the course of this project I accumulated about twenty hours of narrative-interview material. 87 Chapter 2 begins the life history by briefly situating Michael and Shlomo's family beginnings in the context of the history of Jewish-Polish relations.

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