New Article: Gil, Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, 1945-1955

Gil, Idit. “Between Reception and Self-Perception: Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors in Israel.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 12.3 (2013): 493-515.





Based on survivors’ testimonies the article discusses the encounters of Holocaust survivors in Palestine/Israel between 1945 and 1955. After addressing the issues of the historiography of these Holocaust survivors and the value of using their testimonies, it examines the interactions of survivors with official authorities: work, housing, kibbutzim, education, and the pre-military/IDF. It sheds light on the meaning of silence and the manifestation of stereotyping for the survivors themselves, and it assesses the impact of families and creating families. The article also examines the validity of these testimonies by studying some testimonies of Holocaust survivors who emigrated from Israel and those who immigrated directly from Europe to North America. The study concludes that although contemporary collective views influenced survivors’ perceptions, cases of their ill-treatment were not isolated. They were more the result of the attitudes of individuals than the policy of the state. Veteran Israelis’ insensitivity affected survivors. Stigmatizing ostracized them. Lack of empathy and discrimination caused survivors to feel unwanted and lonely, which resulted in many volunteering for the military, or in self-isolation, or in getting married as quickly as possible. Lack of study and job opportunities for women were more difficult to overcome.

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