The Collective Silence: German Identity and the Legacy of Shame, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Collective Silence

German Identity and the Legacy of Shame, 1st Edition

Edited by Barbara Heimannsberg, Christoph J Schmidt

Gestalt Press

286 pages

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The silence surrounding the Holocaust continues to prevent healing - whether of the victims, Nazis, or the generations that followed them. The telling of the stories surrounding the Holocaust - all the stories - is essential if we are to understand what happened, recognize the part of human nature that allows such atrocities to occur, and realize the hope that we can prevent it from happening again.

Seeking to shed light on the collective silence surrounding the Holocaust in Germany, the contributors offer compelling accounts, histories, and experiences that illuminate the ways in which contemporary Germans continue to grapple with the consequences of the Holocaust. Denial in the older generations, as well as anger and confusion in the younger ones, comes vividly to the surface in these evocative stories of coping and healing. Told from the vantage points both of therapists and of patients, these stories encompass the psychological plight of all those facing the legacy of genocide - from the daughter of a high-ranking Nazi official to the children of Jewish immigrants, from those raised in the Hitler Youth Movement to those born well after the war.


"We know fragments of the Jewish horrors of the holocaust and the echoing reverberations. We need to hear, post-Holocaust, about the German Nazi dynamics and their echoes in the perpetrators and their children and grandchildren. In The Collective Silence we hear from therapists who dare to struggle with the family throes growing out of the silence of guilt. Read and weep -- again!"

- Carl A. Whitaker, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin

Table of Contents

Translator's Introduction - Gordon Wheeler

The Editors

The Translators

The Contributors

Psychological Symptoms of the Nazi Heritage: Introduction to the German Edition

- Barbara Heimannsberg and Christoph J. Schmidt

Chapter 1. Psychotherapy and the Nazi Past: A Search for Concrete Forms - Richard Picker

Chapter 2. Farewell to My Father - Irene Anhalt

Chapter 3. I Too Took Part: Confrontations with One's Own History in Family Therapy - Heidi Salm

Chapter 4. The Psychoanalyst Without a Face: Psychoanalysis Without a History - Sammy Speier

Chapter 5. Family Reconstruction in Germany: An Attempt to Confront the Past - Margarete Hecker

Chapter 6. Effects of Lingering Nazi Worldviews in Family Life - Almuth Massing

Chapter 7. "How Can I Develop on a Mountain of Corpses?" Observations from a Theme-Centered Interaction Seminar with Isaac Zieman - Wolfgang Bornebusch

Chapter 8. Unwilling to Admit, Unable to See: Therapeutic Experiences with the National Socialist "Complex" - Waltraud Silke Behrendt

Chapter 9. The Dialogue Between the Generations About the Nazi Era - Helm Stierlin:

Chapter 10. The Work of Remembering: A Psychodynamic View of te Nazi Past as It Exists in Germany Today - Barbara Heimannsberg

Chapter 11. The Difficulty of Speaking the Unspeakable: How an Article Entitled "The Nazi Past in Psychotherapy" Was Never Written - Irene Wielptz

Chapter 12. Holocaust Perpetrators and their Children: A Paradoxical Morality - Dan Bar-On

Chapter 13. "Guilty!" Thoughts in Relation to My Own Past: Letters to My Son - Gunnar von Schlippe

Translator's Afterword - Cynthia Oudejans Harris

About the Editors

Barbara Heimannsberg and Christoph J. Schmidt have private psychotherapy practices in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Applied Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Interpersonal Relations
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health