The problem of communicating between generations was tackled in a concluding discussion at the AJR conference — with panellists Angela Cohen, Hannah Goldstone, and David Clark.
Danny Kalman, a trustee of the AJR, who chaired the session, is the son of a Kindertransport man from Frankfurt who arrived in Britain in 1939. But as he later made clear, for years he never spoke about his background or even his own Jewish identity. “I am able to be so much more open about things now”, he said.
Angela Cohen is the chair of the 45 Aid Society and daughter of one of the Boys, the young Jewish orphans who were allowed to come to Britain in 1945. But Moshe Malenicky, who lost his entire family in Nazi Europe, died in 2001 without talking much about his experiences. Three years later Angela and her family were on holiday in Israel and went on a casual visit to Yad Vashem.
To her shock, she discovered testimonials sent by her father in 1975. “It was the first time I knew his mother’s name — I’m named after her — or his father’s name. I did not know his brother’s name or the names of his four sisters”.
Learning such personal details and being able to talk about them years afterwards was “almost cathartic”, she said.
Hannah Goldstone, a member of the Yom HaShoah Manchester committee and the Northern Holocaust Education Group. Her grandfather, Martin Wertheim came to the UK on the Kindertransport. In 2009 Hannah completed a master’s degree in Holocaust Studies at the University of Manchester. She spoke about the mental health effect on both the Second and Third Generations, but also said that the background had encouraged her and her family to reach out to present-day refugees.
David Clark is an active member of Second Generation Network, whose parents were refugees from Berlin; his mother arriving on the Kindertransport. He was on the editorial committee of JewishRenaissance, Second Generation Voices and currently Exiled Ink, devoted to works by exiled and refugee writers in the UK. He co-edited, with Teresa von Sommaruga Howard, a book on Second Generation journeys to where parents or grandparents came from, to be published by Peter Lang.
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- Hundreds take part in AJR conference bridging gap of generations
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- Elie Wiesel’s son: ‘My father sheltered me quite a bit from knowledge of the Shoah’
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