Holding on to Humanity: The Message of Holocaust Survivors
The effects of the Holocaust on those who survived it are immeasurable. How can one experience the trauma of the concentration camps—being reduced to a helpless witness of the brutality of torture, medical experiments, and execution of those around you—how can one survive this and remain the same? In many ways the Holocaust has drastically effected those who survived, and in Holding on to Humanity Shamai Davidson explores the complex results of this dehumanizing experience.
As a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing in Israel, Davidson spent 30 years working with this special group, trying to understand the nature of their experience. Uniquely skillful in evoking from survivors their most silenced stories, Davidson concentrated on giving them voice and recorded memory. Davidson worked on this book for many years--since 1972 it was a dream of his to write an authoritative work on the life experiences of the Holocaust survivors and their families--but unfortunately Davidson died in 1986 at the age of 59. This book is the result of extensive effort by Israel W. Charny to complete the project at the request of Davidson's widow, Jenny Davidson.
Shamai Davidson was born in 1926 in Dublin. In his youth he witnessed from afar the Nazi rise to power and the death of his aunts and cousins in the ghettos of Warsaw, Lodz, and the gas chambers of Treblinka. Davidson studied medicine at the University of Glasgow and completed his psychiatric residency at Oxford University Medical School in 1955, after which Davidson secured a position as a psychiatrist at Talbieh Psychiatric Hospital in Jerusalem. It is at this point that he encountered the subject that he would pursue for the remainder of his life. Davidson cofounded the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide along with Israel W. Charny and Elie Wiesel, and worked as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, treating Holocaust survivors, until his death.
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