Western cultures, and especially American culture, commonly disapprove of persons who refuse to forgive those who have harmed them and disapprove even more strongly of persons who harbor a desire for revenge. As a consequence, persons who live within those cultures and hold such sentiments tend to suppress their expression. Not surprisingly, Holocaust survivors in America who have harbored such sentiments against the Germans and others who persecuted them and murdered their families have tended to be silent about those sentiments rather than incur such disapproval. Yet for such survivors, the freedom to articulate those sentiments can be psychologically important. Moreover, hearing those sentiments can be illuminating for those, especially in America, who seek to learn about the Holocaust and about the full range of reactions that its survivors have had. Examples are given of Holocaust memoirs by survivors living in America—as well as of educational experiences involving those memoirs, the authors who wrote them, and their American audiences. These demonstrate not only the psychological importance to the survivor of expressing such sentiments but also the educational value of hearing those sentiments expressed.
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Walter Reich; Unwelcome Narratives: Listening to Suppressed Themes in American Holocaust Testimonies. Poetics Today 1 June 2006; 27 (2): 463–472. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-2005-014
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