Holocaust communication, attachment orientation and distress among descendants of female holocaust survivors

The multiple studies that have examined the transgenerational transmission of Holocaust trauma from survivors to their descendants have yielded inconsistent results. These can be attributed to differences in assessment tools and to individual differences between survivors, such as their specific experiences during the Holocaust. This study examined the differences between daughters and granddaughters of female Holocaust survivors (HS) of concentration camps (CCS) versus survivors of other circumstances (ghettos, concealment, etc.; OCCS) in terms of communication about their mothers' or grandmothers' Holocaust trauma (Holocaust communication), their attachment orientations, and their psychological distress. The sample was composed of 79 dyads of daughters of HS and their own daughters, divided into two groups according to the survivors' Holocaust experiences (CCS—47 dyads; OCCS—32 dyads).


The findings indicated that daughters of CCS reported a higher number of conversations about the Holocaust with their mothers, perceived their mothers as more distant during Holocaust communication, and reported more guilt feelings than daughters of OCCS. Holocaust communication between daughters and granddaughters was characterized by shorter conversations, and granddaughters perceived their mothers as sadder in the CCS group than in the OCCS group. No difference between groups was found in Holocaust communication between survivors and their granddaughters. No difference was found between groups in their psychological distress. The granddaughters of CCS scored higher on attachment anxiety than the other group. Most of the significant differences between groups were linked to subtle differences in the characteristics of communication and in the inter-personal sphere.

Eve Lishner Freud, Ety Berant | 2022
In: Family Process ; ISSN: 1545-5300
Online ahead of print DOI: 10.1111/famp.12848
Attachment Behavior, Communication, Females, Guilt, Holocaust (en), Intergenerational Effects, Interpersonal Interaction, Offspring, Research, Survivors