How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt Their Lives

How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt Their Lives

France, the United States, and Israel
Françoise S. Ouzan
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/24/2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03313-0
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Drawing on testimonies, memoirs, and personal interviews of Holocaust survivors, Françoise S. Ouzan reveals how the experience of Nazi persecution impacted their personal reconstruction, rehabilitation, and reintegration into a free society. She sheds light on the life trajectories of various groups of Jews, including displaced persons, partisan fighters, hidden children, and refugees from Nazism. Ouzan shows that personal success is not only a unifying factor among these survivors but is part of an ethos that unified ideas of homeland, social justice, togetherness, and individual aspirations in the redemptive experience. Exploring how Holocaust survivors rebuilt their lives after World War II, Ouzan tells the story of how they coped with adversity and psychic trauma to contribute to the culture and society of their country of residence.

Author Bio

Françoise S. Ouzan is Senior Research Associate at the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center of Tel Aviv University. She has published widely on displaced persons, antisemitism, and American Jewry and is editor (with Dalia Ofer and Judy Tydor Baumel-Schwartz) of Holocaust Survivors, Resettlement, Memories, Identities and (with Manfred Gerstenfeld) of Postwar Jewish Displacement and Rebirth 1945–1967.


“The comparative approach of How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt Their Lives is original and crucial to our understanding of how diverse political environments crystallized the differences and the similarities between the survivors who each experienced the persecution and war differently, whether in hiding, in camps, or fighting in the forests.”
 — Dalia Ofer, editor (with Shmuel Almog, David Bankier, and Daniel Blatman) of The Holocaust: The Unique and the Universal

“This multi-disciplinary, comparative, intimate, and ultimately uplifting book recounts how Jewish survivors from the Holocaust rebuilt their lives in Israel, the United States, and France. Drawing upon individual case studies and decades of scholarly research, Françoise S. Ouzan shows that wartime experiences as well as the character of their new host countries made a difference for survivors, and that many of them, in diverse ways, transformed their suffering and emotional wounds into personal and social achievements. A valuable contribution to Holocaust Studies and the study of trauma.”
 — Jonathan D. Sarna, author (with Benjamin Shapell) of Lincoln and the Jews: A History

“Far from painting all survivors with a broad brush, Françoise S. Ouzan's careful ear and nuanced writing demonstrates that survivors have coped with their wartime trauma, loss of family, beginning lives anew, and more in various ways that cannot be easily categorized or simply generalized. Few works have done what this one does.”
 — Avinoam J. Patt, author of Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust

“Françoise Ouzan has given the now elderly survivors one last opportunity to tell their stories and to ensure that they will be preserved for their children and the children of their children.”
 — Jewish Political Studies Review

“[Ouzan's] writing shines light to the world through the individual stories of people who came through darkness and showed us the way. It will certainly remain a book of courage, strength and inspiration.”
 — The Jerusalem Report

“In sum, the conceptual contribution of this book is important: it is a synthesis that was missing about the paradox of a ‘distinct generation' wounded by their trials and yet, that came out reinforced from the destruction of the Jews. ”
 — Cahiers Bernard Lazare

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by Susan Klieman Date Added: Monday 22 October, 2018
A book of courage, strength and inspiration. From the moment I started reading "How Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt Their Lives," I was taken in from the first page and simply couldn't put it down. In a word, it is brilliant! Francoise Ouzan's book is written in the form of approximately 40 individual first-person stories, gathered via investigative interviewing that took place over the course of more than 2 decades. Each story is more breathtaking than the next. A rocket scientist, surgeon, worldwide published author, assistant to a US president, and many more....are just a few examples of the many interviews. As I read this book I came to realize that if those who went through the darkest of times could survive, thrive and succeed in the grandest sense, then their courage could inspire a universe of people regardless of where they are from. At first blush this book may initially appear to be written for scholars, academics, holocaust survivors and remaining generations. That's certainly true, and that population of people will benefit from these stories of survival and growth. However, I write this review as a "layperson" who has turned to the studies of the holocaust to understand about the strength and endurance that was and is required, and to continue to educate and apply those learnings to myself. Each and every tale tells the story of extraordinary resilience and courage. Their stories are catalysts that caused me to stop and reflect on lessons learned from my own arc of personal history that curve towards the inspiration gained from these rare interviews. "When you look at art, you also see yourself." "How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt Their Lives" demonstrates the transformation of individuals from victims to social actors. But it's so much more. How do people learn through the journey of life stories and rise above their own personal traumas, regardless of the nature of the trauma. How do people transform emotional wounds into personal and social achievements. The last sentence of the book sums up the universality of these 40 stories to soul searchers. "May their inspirational life paths benefit anyone coping with trauma and light the torch of the uprooted searching for concrete goals as an anchor in a tormented world." Francoise Ouzan's brilliant writing, the stories of survival of the people she writes about, and the arc their lives took over time will stay with me forever. These portraits will impact readers and soul searchers today. Her writing shines light to the world through the individual stories of people who came through darkness and showed us the way. Susan Klieman..

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars [5 of 5 Stars]