The Association of "Children of the Holocaust" in Poland


Social services for Nazi victims have been supported by a grant from the
Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany


700 Association members are almost the same number of shattered curriculum vitae, reconstructed from fragments. Katarzyna Meloch writes in the second "Association Chronicle":

We came from the forests, cellars and, for example, straight from the fields tending cows, to schools and universities. We had to make up for years-long arrears in education, with no concessions applied. No one outside our circle will ever know what the cost was of our return to "normal life".

Each member does the best he can. But some just cannot cope.

For these great help is offered by professional psychotherapy workshops held by psychotherapists. Those taking part say they are gradually taking kinks out their life.

"Gradually" is the proper term, bearing in mind that more than half a century has passed since the events which crippled them.

The most recent psychotherapy session was held in Ňör√≥dbor√≥w near Warsaw from 11 through 17 October, 2009. 65 participants were served by 6 psychotherapists.

Professor Maria Orwid on our psychotherapy:

We all probably are aware that since 1997 group meetings of a¬†therapeutic character are held by a¬†group of therapists (Maria Orwid, Ewa Domagalska-Kurdziel, Maria KamiŇĄska, Katarzyna Prot-Klinger, ŇĀukasz Biedka, Krzysztof Szwajca, Ryszard Izdebski, Krystyna BierzyŇĄska) for members of our Association.

Where did the idea come from? Following the first research program based on interviews with twenty Association members and twenty persons from the second generation of those who survived - it turned out that all required specific therapeutic help. This was far from a revelation since in the so-called civilized world survivors and their children have received such help since the 1960s. So-called crisis intervention or therapy is presently applied in all groups who experienced very difficult and particularly extreme incidents, most recently following the floods in Poland. Though it seemed an obvious thing, our program encountered no small difficulties from the outset. Association colleagues themselves put up resistance claiming we wanted to drive them into becoming pathology cases. Sponsors, too, were in opposition refusing to recognize that such activity requires financing, if Association members are not to cover the costs involved. Ultimately, thanks to dr Zwi Fein, one of the Joint directors, a grant was awarded for the program.

The first meeting was in Rynia (26 - 28 September 1997) on the occasion of the annual assembly of the whole Association, with several dozen people taking part who were interested in getting to know themselves better.

The beginning was one of chaos, with everyone wanting to speak at the same time and with much disquiet and vagueness evident. People were unwilling to hear what others wanted to say. Since then several group meetings have been held, with fifty to sixty regular participants. In my whole career as a psychotherapist have I never encountered such lively and creative groups. Intellectual honesty, frankness and great regard for the other person prevail. We are slowly succeeding in implementing the goal we are aiming at, i.e. emotional changes from "being a victim" to being a strong and responsible person. Such transformations are becoming increasingly evident in our groups. I also feel that our groups are becoming a strong pillar for their participants as well as therapists. Psychotherapeutic meetings also teach us psychotherapists a lot: that there is no therapeutic school capable of resolving all the dilemmas which we all experience. We have learned pluralism, flexibility and have notably strengthened our respect for the other person and his tragedies.

An interesting phenomenon in our "therapeutic adventure" was that, despite proposing various groups different subjects resulting from earlier research, such as identity, depression tendencies, fears, sense of loneliness and alienation and relations with children - it turned out that all groups in various configurations discussed the same problems. That surely signifies we are establishing a real psychological community. The team of psychotherapists is happy it can participate in this community.

An essential subject in all groups was a very strong bond between parents and children suffering from fear and a reciprocal sense of guilt. On a request by group members a cycle of separate meeting of parent-child couples were commenced - fascinating meetings which caused the field of this relationship to be cleared up. These meetings generated the next cycle and the next group, the so-called second generation group. Our meetings have been held since 1998 every two months. A group numbers ten to fifteen persons, with spouses and children - that is the third generation - taking part. Our meetings are in Cracow, with group participants arriving from various towns and cities - invariably interesting meetings, based on a high degree of frankness, good will and mutual trust.

This is not the place where these meetings can be discussed in detail, but all participants stress they feel good since they can be "themselves", without any need for "true Jew" model behavior. I keep on being convinced that I am taking part as if in the appearance of a new European identity.

<< back