Racism is one of the world’s major problems. A person who is a racist feels threaten by someone that is from a different religion or culture. People raised in a racist family or have friends who are racist will think that racism is a normal thing. Racism will never be wiped out completely but we have to find some ways to change people’s mind about this problem. Racist can be described as a trauma. The word “trauma” can be used in many ways. For example, doctors use the word head trauma when they see a patient that got in the car crash, giving the word “trauma” the definition of a head injury. Another example for the use of the words trauma is by saying the patient was traumatized by the car accident meaning he or she became afraid to drive a car. In both examples, trauma is something that stays with an individual for a long time. In face, we now know that trauma can pass from one generation to the next! The silence of perpetrators and victims of trauma caused by racist actions contributes to both trauma and racism passing from one generation to another.
The holocaust is one good example of the discrimination against the Jewish people and other minorities. Holocaust, a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire”, was a resulted in the murder of six million Jews and minorities (Holocaust Encyclopedia). In 1930s and 1940s When the Nazis came to power in Germany, they spread the idea that Germans were racially more “superior” compared to the Jewish people, who they saw as “inferior”. Not only did the Nazis view Jewish people as racially “inferior”, they also targeted gypsies, the disabled, and some Slavic people along with homosexuals, Communists etc. The Holocaust officially started in 1933 when the chancellor, Adolf Hitler came to power. With Hitler in power, the prosecutions of Jews and minorities quickly escalated as part of the “Final Solution”, of the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe and anyone that did not comply with the social norms of Germany during the Nazi regime. During their reign, the Nazis kept all the victims or anyone that was considered an enemy of the state in concentration camps. The SS officers imposed forced-labor and performed medical experiments on the victims, who often would die from exhaustion, starvation, and exposure. Furthermore, to facilitate the “Final Solution” policy, killing centers were created in Poland where millions of Jews and minorities were killed by being forced into a poisonous mobile gas chamber.
The word genocide, describing the action of the violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group, was not established until after 1944 when the Holocaust ended. The word genocide was created after the Holocaust because when the Holocaust was happening, the events happened so quickly that people were unable to formulate and process what was going on until after everything was over (Laub). During the Holocaust, victims got treated so inhumanely that they ended up devaluing themselves because they were unable to formulate how they were getting treated into words. It was not until afterward, when people looked back through the experiences, which they realized, they were part of genocide.
The genocide is the act of a group of people that tries to exterminate the existence of another group of people. In the case of the Holocaust, the Nazis were the perpetrators of the genocide whereas the Jewish people were the victims of the genocide. There are also other people that were considered complicit due to their non-acknowledgment of what happened during the time of 1933 to 1944.
Since the Holocaust, there have been three different groups of people that all have different perspectives that they carried during and after the Holocaust. The different trauma that each group experienced from 1933 to today, 2017, can still clearly be seen in the current Gen Alpha, generations from 2011 to 2025 (Robinson). The trans generational trauma has been dealt with in many ways throughout different generations depending on the kinds of experiences and stories individuals or communities have passed on.
The trans generational trauma of Holocaust on both sides of the perpetrators and victims has a prevalent theme. The theme of silence, “a silence may be ideologically motivated, it may be a means of avoidance, or it may refer to what which is not expressible and remains unsayable.” (Frie, 263). In other words, silence can be a way that people cope with the traumatic experience of postwar Germany. Moreover, when Frie narrowed down the silence within his own family unit, it made sense how silence had been such a potent theme throughout the generations. Prior to and during WWII, Germany was a proud country that praised its leaders to conquer the world but soon met defeat. They were then told by all the other countries that what Germany once believed in were bad beliefs. The idea of going from a country of pride to a country of defeat over a couple of nights had a great traumatic effect on the citizens. Just like Groning and Huryn, they avoided talking about the times they were in the camps because they wanted to try to distance themselves as far from the atrocity as they can. As for silence through the survivors of Holocaust, the silence means the refusal to want to think back to such life-threatening and traumatizing period of time they have been through at the Concentration and Death Camps.
Silence has been a frequent theme occurring throughout the generations. It showed that perpetrators will go through great lengths to try to avoid responsibility for the atrocity that they helped build. It also showed how the survivor’s silence about the past could be detrimental to the future generations due to the future generations misunderstandings on why Holocaust survivor parents act the way they do. For the perpetrators and the victims, both groups of people used silence to cope with their trauma for too long, the unformulated past will only continue to get inherited through future generation until the idea of trans generational trauma is being understood by everyone.