The Holocaust Across Generations

Trauma and its Inheritance Among Descendants of Survivors

184 pages

January, 2017

ISBN: 9781479839292



Add to Cart Available: 12/2/2016

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Janet Jacobs is Professor of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Colorado. She is the author of numerous books and journal articles, including Hidden Heritage: The Legacy of the Crypto-Jews and Memorializing the Holocaust: Gender, Genocide and Collective Memory

All books by Janet Jacobs

Winner of the 2017 Outstanding Book Award for the Peace, War, and Social Conflict Section presented by the American Sociological Association
Brings together the study of post-Holocaust family culture with the study of collective memory 
Over the last two decades, the cross-generational transmission of trauma has become an important area of research within both Holocaust studies and the more broad study of genocide. The overall findings of the research suggest that the Holocaust informs both the psychological and social development of the children of survivors who, like their parents, suffer from nightmares, guilt, fear, and sadness. The impact of social memory on the construction of survivor identities among succeeding generations has not yet been adequately explained. Moreover, the importance of gender to the intergenerational transmission of trauma has, for the most part, been overlooked. In The Holocaust across Generations, Janet Jacobs fills these significant gaps in the study of traumatic transference. 
The volume brings together the study of post-Holocaust family culture with the study of collective memory. Through an in-depth study of 75 children and grandchildren of survivors, the book examines the social mechanisms through which the trauma of the Holocaust is conveyed by survivors to succeeding generations. It explores the social structures—such as narratives, rituals, belief systems, and memorial sites—through which the collective memory of trauma is transmitted within families, examining the social relations of traumatic inheritance among children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.  Within this analytic framework, feminist theory and the importance of gender are brought to bear on the study of traumatic inheritance and the formation of trauma-based identities among Holocaust carrier groups.  


  • “The book is a very fine piece of scholarship.”

    American Journal of Sociology

  • "Janet Jacobs has provided us with a thoroughly sociological understanding of the social transmission of collective trauma across generations. It is integrative theoretically and empirically, focusing on the social structures and social relations of transmission, including family processes, rituals and narratives of identity construction, public commemorations, and the sociology of place. There are, as she notes, `multiple landscapes of memory’ and her sensitive and in-depth empirical work shows many of them. This book will be a valued addition to the sociology of collective memory and to genocide and Holocaust Studies."

    —Rhys H. Williams, Loyola University Chicago

  • "This important book illustrates the social structures through which the trauma of the Holocaust has been transmitted to the children and grandchildren of survivors. Based on carefully documented narratives gathered over ten years, Jacobs’s contribution is profound and illuminating."

    —Wendy Cadge, Brandeis University