You are on page 1of 22

Bearing Witness: Second Generation Literature of the "Shoah"

Author(s): Alan L. Berger

Source: Modern Judaism, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Feb., 1990), pp. 43-63
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL:
Accessed: 17/02/2010 17:23

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless
you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you
may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed
page of such transmission.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

Oxford University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Modern
AlanL. Berger




The Shoah refuses to disappear. Memories of the monstrous evil un-

leashed by this fiery cataclysm of history continue to plague its survivors,
to vex the religious imagination, and to defy the notion of innocence.
This "wound in the order of being," as Martin Buber termed the Holo-
caust, does not heal. Its effects are seen most profoundly in literary re-
flections of the Kingdom of Night written by the witnessing generation
whose works testify to the sense of cosmic upheaval and covenantal
challenge illuminated by the flames of Auschwitz. Indeed, Elie Wiesel
has observed that what the survivors "took away from our tales and from
our burning houses in European history was the fire."' This literary
"fire" illuminates the witnessing generation's determination to tell the
tale and, in so doing, to both educate and warn future generations. Con-
sequently, how, and by whom, the Shoah's legacy is assumed touches a
multiplicity of concerns: covenantal, historical, literary, and psychologi-
cal. As the drama of Holocaust literature unfolds, an international literary
second generation has begun to transmit the Shoah'smemory with a com-
pelling moral, existential, and religious urgency. Unlike the witnessing
generation, however, the second generation lacks direct access to the
Holocaust. Thus, their writings weave their parent's memories with their
own imagination. The resulting tapestry portrays the Holocaust's pro-
found effect on questions of post-Auschwitz Jewish identity and authen-
In what follows I discuss the distinction between witnessing and
bearing witness, and then investigate the relationship of the symbolism
of second generation Holocaust literature to what has recently been
termed the "Second Life of Holocaust Imagery." Wiesel's novel The Fifth
Son is briefly examined as a transitional work between the first and second
generations.2 Next, an analysis of selected examples of American second

*An earlier version of this paper was presented at "Remembering for the Future: The
Impact of the Holocaust on the Contemporary World." International Scholars' Conference
held in Oxford, 10-13 July, 1988.

44 Alan Berger

generation literature of the Shoah reveals how memory of the catastrophe

is preserved by those born after.3 This literature treats the Jewish issues
of covenant fidelity and identity as measured against a holocaustal yard-
stick. The complex web of family relationships serves as the linchpin for
understanding how to read literature written by those whom the literary
critic Alvin Rosenfeld described as the kinds of survivors, "those who
were never there but know more than the outlines of the place."4 It is
within the family structure that one notes the full dimensions of the con-
temporary problematic of Jewish identity: images of survivors, covenantal
questioning, and the Jewish future. The paper concludes with an attempt
to assess the possible theological meaning of these issues as the literary
future of the Holocaust in American novels grows in importance.


The distinction between a witnessing generation and those who come

after, but are commanded to witness, is firmly rooted in Jewish history
and liturgy. Addressing this problematic, the late novelist and theologian
Arthur A. Cohen wrote:
The Passover Haggadah commands that every Jew consider himself as
though he has gone forth in exodus from Egypt. The grammatical
authority of the Haggadah makes clear that this is no metaphor, what-
ever our wish to make apodictic language metaphoric. The authority is
clear: I was really, even if not literally, present at Sinai. God contem-
plated my virtual presence then, thirty-odd centuries ago. The fact that
history could not prevision and entail my presence is irrelevant. No less
is it the case that the death camps account my presence really, even if
not literally: hence my obligation to hear the witnesses as though I were
a witness. It is mandatory that this real presence of all Israel in the death
camps, experiencing the tremendum(Shoah),enter the liturgy as surely
as it entered the narration of the Exodus.5

Cohen's distinction between those who were literally and those who were
really present at the time of orienting events in the life of the tradition
establishes a liturgical and philosophical basis for writings by non-
This distinction is refined in the writings of Wiesel. On the one hand,
he insists on the singularity of the victims' experience. Works such as
"A Plea for the Dead" (1967), and "A Plea for the Survivors" (1977) bear
eloquent testimony to this view. Yet, on the other hand, Wiesel asserts
the necessity for all Jews to bear witness to the Holocaust. This witness
bearing constitutes, for Wiesel, the touchstone of Jewish and human au-
thenticity. He writes:
SecondGeneration 45

No Jew can be fully Jewishtoday, can be fully a man today, without

being partof the Holocaust.All Jewsare survivors.They have all been
insidethe whirlwindof the Holocaust,even thosebornafterwards,even
thosewho heardits echoes in distantlands.6
Wiesel's call for bearing witness transcends spatial and temporal borders,
suggesting that there are concentric circles of witnesses. Some of them
are literal survivors; some of them are their children; others are their
friends and family; while still others are members of the House of Israel.
But all of them are linked by a common destiny. Just as in the hasidic
world which he so admires there were concentric circles of hasidim who
formed around their rebbe, some living in the master'shouse, others who
lived in the area, and still others who made only occasional trips to see
and hear the rebbe, so, too, after the Holocaust there are circles of wit-
nesses; some are closer than others to the Event, but all are capable of
being transformed into witnesses by hearing the survivors' tales. In the
words of Ellen Fine "... to listen to a witness is to become one."7
The task of bearing witness is a normative element of Jewish ex-
istence. Scripturally sanctioned, see especially Joel (1:3), witness bearing
has become integral to living one's life as a covenanted Jew. In the case of
second generation Holocaust literature, this act becomes a moral and
theological imperative. The survivors are slowly disappearing and the
solemn task of transmitting their legacy is being assumed by the second
generation. The literature being written by survivors' children comprises
a unique genre in its reaction to their parents' tragedy. This literature is
in fact one response to Yehuda Bauer's observation that the "crucial
problem is how to anchor the Holocaust in the historical consciousness of
the generations that follow it."8


Second generation Holocaust writers occupy a distinctive position. Des-

pite their various orientations to Judaism and other differentiating
factors, as children they were all "witnesses to their parents' ongoing sur-
vival."9 Consequently, while not having personally experienced the
Shoah, these "second generation survivors" constitute the group of non-
witnessing American Jews most intimately familiar with its continuing
effects. Their parents' Holocaust experience indelibly stamped the sur-
vivors both with certain assumptions concerning society and with the
need to maintain those coping strategies which enabled them to survive
the Holocaust.10Second generation Holocaust writing is simultaneously
a recapitulation of the parents' experience and a telling of how the Shoah
46 Alan Berger

is viewed as an orienting event by the children of survivors. However

discrete the stories are, inevitably they become linked. Wiesel has cap-
tured the relationship between survivors and their offspring in the
utterance of Ariel, a child of survivors and the central character in The
FifthSon. Ariel exclaims that survivors' tales "fuel my imagination." The
second generation autobiographies, biographies, novels and short stories
of writers such as Carol Ascher, Barry Lane, BarbaraFinkelstein, Thomas
Friedmann, Michael Kornblit, Sonia Pilcer, David Preston, Lev Raphael,
Lore Segal, Julie Salamon, Art Spiegelman, and Ellen Summers all attest
to the Shoah'scontinuing presence.
Collectively, second generation Holocaust literature exemplifies what
Irving Greenberg has termed "new secular liturgical acts" which com-
memorate the Shoahwhile simultaneously revealing that its authors have,
despite God's apparent hiddeness and reluctance to act, voluntarily em-
braced the covenant." Decoding these writings may provide a partial
response to Rosenfeld's call for a "phenomenology of reading Holocaust
literature." Second generation literature of the Shoah compels enquiry
into the role of Holocaust imagery in literature. Norma Rosen, the
novelist and critic, sensitively argues for what she terms "The Second
Life of Holocaust Imagery."12By this she means to suggest that non-Jews
may be sensitized and brought into Jewish experience. Specifically, this
second life entails what she terms a "double rite of passage"-particular
to universal and universal back to particular.13Rightly warning against
the dangers of false universalizing of Holocaust specificity, Rosen none-
theless sketches what she deems the proper functioning of Holocaust
imagery in the lives of nonwitnesses; both Jewish and non-Jewish.
Butenteringinto a stateof beingthatforwhateverreasonsmakesporous
thosemembranesthroughwhichempathypasses,or deep memorywith
its particular"thereness,"so thatwe can move, as far as it is given to us
to do so, into the pain and hence the meaningof the Holocaust-that,
too, is a kind of memorial.'4

Rosen then focuses on three literary examples: one written by a sur-

vivor, one a survivor's tale told by a professional novelist, and one by a
nonwitnessing but Jewishly sensitive author. Elie Wiesel's Night has been
read by fathers and sons all over the world. "May we not guess," asks
Rosen, "that whole generations of fathers and sons see the mirroring of
themselves?" A young woman nursing her baby in the safety of America
can "experience in her love for her own child the magnitude of the
mother's loss in Susan Fromberg Schaeffer's Anya. This same nursing
mother "who has read Cynthia Ozick's 'The Shawl,' will feel the pain of
that mother's sight of her starved infant in a way that is immediate and
profound."15These examples reflect what Rosen terms an "osmosis of
empathy" whereby the nonwitness infuses her/his own experience with
HolocaustLiterature 47

the terror conveyed in Holocaust stories. This is, contends Rosen, a

second life of art. "And," she adds, "since that art is a Holocaust re-crea-
tion," the response will be a "Holocaust memory of a sort, and we must
let it be." This may, opines Rosen, "be the deepest kind of ongoing Holo-
caust memorial we have."16
Rosen's intelligent analysis is richly suggestive insofar as it goes,
underscoring the need to continue to read, and be transformed by, tales
of the Holocaust. There are, however, also problems. Three concern this
paper. If there is indeed a second life, why stop there? Why not look
further for signs of a new birth? Jeremiah, after all, foretold of new cove-
nants and a new Jerusalem. Rosen's view also, implicitly, forecloses the
possibility of recognizing the second generation's role in writing Holo-
caust literature. Third, is there not a real danger involved in trying to
appropriate for one's self symbols of an experience which the witnesses
themselves contend is beyond the imagination? The danger here lies in
trivializing the Holocaust. For example, every personal unhappiness or
pain might, as in the case of Sylvia Plath's poetry, be viewed as holo-
caustal. This is one reason why Cynthia Ozick has warned that the Holo-
caust is already "dangerously literary." True, every generation is linked
to the past, but in making past messages accessible to the present, change
occurs amidst claims of continuity.
Transmission of epoch-making events in Judaism invariably evoked
a midrashic tradition as exemplified in the rich literature of rabbinic
Judaism. The Talmud provides many clues by which we can understand
the principle underlying the relationship between first and second
generation literature of the Shoah. To cite but one example, God tells
Moses that in the future Akiba ben Joseph, a great interpreter of the Law,
will arise in the House of Israel. Expressing a desire to see his successor,
Moses is transported into the future where he is an invisible auditor in
Akiba's class. Hearing Akiba and his disciples argue, Moses, the text tells
us, became despondent because he was unable to understand the discus-
sion. At one point, the disciples challenged Akiba: 'Rabbi, whence do
you know this?' 'This law,' replied Akiba, 'is a tradition delivered by
Moses on Sinai' (Menachot29b). The text then reports that Moses felt
relieved. First generation Holocaust literature is the Torah;17writings of
the second generation may be understood as interpretations of the
holy text.
Second generation Holocaust literature, properly focused, utilizes its
own frames of reference in reflecting the Shoah'scontinuing impact. This
fact serves to differentiate second generation literature from the types of
writings given in Rosen's examples. This writing refrains, for example,
from employing images such as mounds of corpses and descriptions of
death camp savagery which have become synonymous with writings of
the witnessing generation. This approach has the effect of avoiding
48 Alan Berger

making the Holocaust into a metaphor and hence too "literary"and trivial.
In fact, the literary quality of second generation writings is not a primary
concern. Rather it is their psychological and theological quests for
authentic Jewish identity which make of them crucial barometers of the
post-Auschwitz American Jewish future.
These writings reflect constant exposure to various dimensions of
what Robert Jay Lifton terms the "death imprint." This imprint mani-
fests itself in psychological states which have significant theological reso-
nance. Psychologically, one notes the presence of depression and severe
anxiety, a tendency toward psychosomatic illness, and the long-term
effects of torture and starvation on survivor parents. Moreover, survivor
parents' child-raising skills are deeply effected by their own experiences
of death and deprivation. Wiesel has underscored one of the many para-
doxes engendered by the Shoah in observing that what children of sur-
vivors need to understand is "that the real children of the Holocaust are
their parents."'8
The theological implication of these works is more subtle, but no less
powerful. Although specifically describing the survivor parents in his
observation that this is the generation which knows most intensely that
"destruction can take place, that the sea will not be split for them, that the
divine has self-limited, and they have additional responsibilities,"19Irving
Greenberg's words apply equally to the second generation. Despite this
knowledge, second generation authors want consciously to be Jews and,
by this decision, carry on the messianic task of quarreling with God even
while awaiting Messiah. This is a type of practical theology expressed by
actions, e.g., living a Jewish life, rather than explicit theological formula-
tion. It is, moreover, attests Greenberg, the appropriate "theological lan-
guage for this time, more appropriate than those who go on speaking as
if God were visible and fully performing under the previous terms of the
Holocaust literature written by children of survivors displays its own
icons; parents' tales of the Kingdom of Night, or, the other side of the
same coin, silence about the past, photos of murdered siblings or other
family members, objects which once belonged to a relative consumed by
the Shoah'sflames, heightened personal awareness of contemporary evil,
and the parents' continued forms of suffering. The writings of the second
generation in fact bear witness to Wiesel's observation, made in speaking
to now adult children of survivors, that "... the responsibility of your
parents was solely towards the dead; yours will be towards us."21In fact,
the effect of the Holocaust on parenting skills is portrayed in many of
these works as distorting intergenerational communication; survivor
parents, because of their Holocaust experiences, embrace values which
clash with American culture. This frequently results in a "significant
contradiction between their (children's) public and private worlds."22Yet,
Second GenerationHolocaust Literature 49

children of Holocaust survivors continue to feel responsible for their



Wiesel's The FifthSon boldly departs from his earlier works by imagining
how a child of survivors is transformed by tales of the Holocaust. Dedi-
cated to his own son, and to all children of survivors, the novel is a dis-
tillation of Wiesel's literary theology as it emerges in the Tamiroff family.
Rachel and Reuven Tamiroff are survivors living in New York with
Ariel, their second born only child. Ariel is enveloped by his father's
silence, worries about his mother's increasing withdrawal, and is a fasci-
nated auditor of Holocaust tales told by Bontchek, a survivor friend of
his father. The novel reverses Wiesel's long held literary pattern by
attempting to imagine what it would have been like for a witness to grow
up as a child of survivors. Ritually, the tale occurs during Passover,
reminding us of Cohen's argument: a time which intensely focuses Jewish
identity across the generations by commemorating the orienting event of
Exodus, and by its demand that the covenant be renewed. More recently,
there has emerged a liturgical addition to the Passover seder. "The Fifth
Child," a haunting prayer recited on behalf of the one who cannot ask,
represents the million and a half Jewish children murdered in the Shoah.23
Ariel becomes "fully Jewish" by assuming his parents' Holocaust legacy.
Ariel, whose father rarely spoke to him of the Holocaust and whose
mother was institutionalized, undergoes several stages in his quest for
post-Holocaust Jewish identity. Initially, he hears and is transformed by
Bontchek's tales. Subsequently, Ariel spends much time in the library
reading about the Shoah. He travels to Germany in order to kill the Nazi
responsible for murdering the European Ariel. Once at his destination,
however, the American Ariel does not murder, but rather, condemns the
Nazi. The novel concludes with the American Ariel, by now a professor,
teaching his students of the Shoah.
Wiesel's novel establishes several important principles for second
generation literature. First, the novel's appearance legitimizes this genre.
Wiesel, the best known and most widely read witnessing writer, now
contends that the next generation must bear witness. Next, Wiesel tells
not only of the Shoah but of its survivors' continuing survival. Survivors
continued to be ignored and humiliated after the war. Yet, these same
survivors are shown establishing new lives in a foreign culture. In addi-
tion, he casts children of survivors in a pedagogical role despite fully
acknowleding the vast gulf separating survivors from their children and
both of them from American nonwitnesses. Wiesel's theology is expressed
in the novel's argument against vengeance and for bearing witness.
50 Alan Berger

Memory and not violence will be the Jewish companion and means by
which Messiah is awaited.24Finally, the Holocaust, no less than Passover,
becomes the point of entry into Jewish history and identity for Wiesel's
child of survivors.


Among the many contemporary examples of second generation wit-

nessing, I have chosen for discussion here Art Spiegelman's Maus,25
Barbara Finkelstein's SummerLong-a-Coming,26 and selected short stories
of Lev Raphael. Biographically, these authors represent a diverse group.
Spiegelman is a professional cartoonist and the editor of Raw magazine.
Finkelstein is a free lance writer, and Raphael is a professor at Michigan
State University. Their works illustrate the various ways in which the
second generation has accepted the survivors' Holocaust legacy.
Mausis unquestionably the most controversial and bold of the second
generation writings. In terms of genre it is simultaneously autobiography,
biography, comic book for adults, documentary, novel, and psychosocial
history. The book's novelty is visible in terms of the figures which are
drawn as mice (Jews), cats (Nazis), and pigs (Poles). One brief segment,
dealing with his mother's suicide, depicts human faces and figures.
Spiegelman tells several stories in Maus. On one level it is the tale of his
parents' (Vladek and Anja) pre-war, Holocaust, and post-war lives. The
reader is mentally invited to compare the carefree marriage and parent-
ing of the pre-war Spiegelmans with their post-war career as parents.27It
is, however, also the story of Spiegelman's own deeply troubled relation-
ship to himself, to Judaism, and to his father. Spiegelman, born in Stock-
holm in 1947, was raised in a home where the Holocaust, while not
openly discussed, was "part of the brooding atmosphere of our house."28
An enlarged photograph of his brother Richieu, a Holocaust victim, was
prominently displayed, although he was rarely spoken of.29
The hovering presence of the Holocaust in the lives of its survivors
is made manifest by the text's interweaving of Holocaust past and Ameri-
can present. This motive is underscored from the outset where, in the
untitled foreword to Maus,Spiegelman relates the following incident. As
a ten-year old boy living in Rego Park, he has been abandoned by friends
after a roller skating fall. Crying, he told his father what happened. Vladek
responded saying: "Friends? Your Friends? If you lock them together in
a room with no food for a week . . . Then you could see what it is,
Friends!" (p. 5). This statement, communicated in Vladek's unmis-
takably refugee cadenced English, reveals both his Holocaust experiences
and the survivor's continuing mistrust of the social world. The psychic
lives of Vladek and Anja have been completely shattered by the Holo-
SecondGeneration 51

caust. In fact, Spiegelman's portrayal of survivors is, similar to that of

Isaac Bashevis Singer, an unsentimental one. Very far from Wiesel's
notion of the near metaphysical status of survivors, Spiegelman's family
is deeply troubled. Anja, as noted, is a suicide. Vladek is distrustful,
suffers from psychosomatic illnesses, is manipulative, miserly, and unable
to respect boundaries between himself and his son.
The Holocaust is also, however, much in the manner suggested by
Wiesel in The FifthSon, Spiegelman's point of entry into Jewish history.
For example, he told an interviewer that his father'sstory is "my shoehorn
with which to squeeze myself back into history."30Moreover, listening to
his father's tales was the only way Spiegelman could relate to Vladek. As
the son listens to his father tell the story of the incremental annihilation
of the Jews, he hears history, learns geography, and begins to appreciate
the complexity of life in those dreadful days. Vladek speaks, for example,
about righteous gentiles as well as about Poles and others who betrayed
and murdered Jews. The son also learns that there were various types of
Jewish response to the situation. There were Jewish police in the ghettos
and there were Jewish informers. There were also Jews who risked their
lives to help others. Vladek, in fact, was one of them.
Vladek, with his one sightless eye and his heart problems, reminds
the reader of Saul Bellow's Artur Sammler, a "one-eyed seer," whose per-
ceptions penetrate the pretense of civilization. He embodies the com-
plexity of survivors; his very otherness simultaneously evokes both dislike
and sympathy. Indeed, Vladek serves as Art's reality instructor. The son
is at first incredulous, for example, that one had to pay money to be
hidden by the Poles, or to be smuggled out of danger even by relatives.
Vladek's stories dispel this naivete while revealing both the enormous
gap between survivors and their offspring and the difference between
both of them and the nonwitnessing world.
Maus is, above all, the story of Spiegelman's reentry or reconversion
to Judaism. Although having become a bar mitzvah, Spiegel told one
interviewer that during his mid-teens "I often thought life would be a lot
easier if I were not Jewish."3'Yet, later he found himself unable to resist
reading all he could about the Holocaust, even travelling to Auschwitz,
the capacity to be addressed by the Shoah, rather than any Traditional
ritual, served as Spiegelman's Jewish catalyst. This phenomenon is
common in novels and short stories which view Judaism in terms of a
secular value system.32
Spiegelman's journey of self-discovery is composed of three distinct
phases. Initially, as noted, he had a bar mitzvah. This life-cycle ritual,
occurring at thirteen years, takes place at a time prior to full maturity
and may be the first conscious step into or the last step out of Judaism. In
Spiegelman's case it was the latter. The extent of Spiegelman's abandon-
ment of Judaism is seen at his mother's funeral where, instead of reciting
52 Alan Berger

the kaddish(the traditional mourning ritual), he reads from The Tibetan

Book of the Dead.
In the course of telling his story, Vladek reports a strange dream he
had while in a German prisoner of war camp. His dead grandfather, a
very religious man, appeared ritually garbed in tallis(prayer shawl) and
tephillin (phylacteries). The grandfather told Vladek his release from
camp would occur during the week when the Torah portion ParshaTruma
is read.33Art did not even know that parsha refers to a weekly Torah
reading. In any case, the theological interpretation of this particular
parsha refers to the divine presence dwelling among Israel. The reader
discovers that significant events in the Spiegelman family occurred at the
time of this parsha: Vladek's first marriage, his release from the P.O.W.
camp, and Art's birth. ParshaTrumawas also Art's bar mitzva parsha.This
parshaserves then as a link between the pre-war, war and post-war life of
the Spiegelman family.
Vladek is a secularist, although religiously knowledgeable. His son,
however, is very far from formal knowledge of the Jewish religious tra-
dition. Nevertheless, both the survivor father and his son manifest their
Jewish identity through the sharing of the father's Holocaust story. The
son's intense desire to learn of the parents' Holocaust experience has
made him a witness bearer. The son is very bitter, in fact, upon learning
that Vladek, in a fit of rage or despair following Anja's suicide, has de-
stroyed his wife's Holocaust diaries. The story ends with the son calling
his father a murderer for his act of destruction. The son can, nevertheless,
be viewed as having voluntarily entered the covenant tradition and con-
fronted his own Jewish identity by immersing himself in the act of
listening to and recording his father's Holocaust stories.
Barbara Finkelstein's Summer Long-a-Comingfocuses on a different
aspect of holocaustal legacy. The story concerns the Szuster family: sur-
vivor parents and three children, the eldest of whom was born in a dis-
placed persons' camp. The parents, Rukhl and Yankl, are orthodox Jews
who own a poultry farm in southern New Jersey where, like the Spiegel-
mans, they shun unnecessary contact with the outside world. The parents
speak Yiddish, observe the Sabbath, and rarely speak to their children
about the Holocaust. Their children, Sheiye, Brantzche, and Perel are
raised according to standards of a vanished world. Sheiye, the son, sym-
bolically associated with Messiah, is constantly in conflict with his two
younger sisters.
In terms of structure, the novel has two books consisting of, re-
spectively, twenty-two and four chapters, six of which are historical depo-
sitions made by the parents to a researcher at Yad Vashem,Israel's Holo-
caust archive, monument, and museum. Yad Vashemcontains invaluable
documents written by, and artifactsbelonging to, the victims. It also serves
as an international center for teaching about the catastrophe of European
Second GenerationHolocaust Literature 53

Jewry. Finkelstein's use of these depositions and the Yad Vashemcontext

anchor the novel, simultaneously revealing the survivors' experiences
while emphasizing the necessity of continuing to learn from them. Finkel-
stein wisely refrains from either inventing holocaustal tales or equating
survivors and their children. She does, however, emphasize the unique
pedagogical role of both survivors and their children by having Brantzche
observe of her mother, "I felt as I always did with Mama in public: She
and I were in on a secret, but I didn't know what it was" (p. 230).
Finkelstein combines the psychological aspect of holocaustal legacy
found in Mauswith her own theological questings. SummerLong-a-Coming
is narrated by fifteen-year old Brantzche and tells the story of her nine-
year old sister's accidental death at the hands of Sheiye. After her sister's
death, which Brantzche called "an extension" of the Holocaust, her father
continues to pray. Joined by the shohet (ritual slaughterer) the two men
utter, "Eli,Eli, lomo Asawtoni?My God, my God, why have you forsaken
me?" (246). Brantzche interprets their prayer as less a "challenge to
God's motives" than it was a "comfort to their limited understanding,
sorrow waltzing in time to their song" (pp. 246-247). Unable, or unwilling,
to accept her father's acceptance, the daughter of survivors has her own
quarrel with God.
The father's adherence to traditional beliefs exemplifies the stance
adopted by post-Holocaust mainstream Orthodox Judaism. Rabbi Eli-
ezer Berkovits, an articulate and erudite nonwitness, is the best known
exemplar of this view. He contends, for example, that while the Shoah
was an enormous human problem, theologically it remains unexcep-
tional.34Brantzche, the child of survivors, cannot accept this theological
exoneration. Her anger calls to mind Hugh Nissenson's short story "The
Blessing."35There, Yitshaak, an Israeli father whose eight-year old son
has died from cancer, is unable to comprehend the continuing faith of his
survivor aunt who, upon learning of her nephew's death, recites "Blessed
art Thou O Lord our God who art the true judge in Israel,"the traditional
benediction on hearing evil news. The difference between the Israeli and
the European survivor is that her faith had "taken-the condemnation of
innocence-into account." The survivor's faith is stronger than the
skeptic's doubt.
Brantzche displays the complexities and the uniqueness of holocaustal
legacy in the second generation. Her parents' parenting is flawed owing
to their Holocaust experiences. Rukhl and Yankl share with Vladek
Spiegelman, for example, highly idiosyncratic behavior: excessive con-
cern for their children's health, the near sanctity of food, and an in-
tolerance to their children's psychic pain. Brantzche observes that "The
Szusters refused nourishment from the outside world, so naturally they
began to devour each other" (123). The burden of the Holocaust is too
great for a fifteen-year old to bear. Brantzche confesses to the reader that
54 Alan Berger

her mother "scared" her. The young teenager confides that frequently
before falling asleep she mentally "rolled her (mother) into a tiny ball
and threw her across time and the ocean into the Poland of 1942 .. ."
(p. 234). She understands neither why her parents spend hours arguing
over the chronology of the War, nor why "history wasn't finished abusing"
the Szuster family.
Rukhl and Yankl, on the other hand, teach their daughters to daven
(pray), and the parents continue to commemorate the Holocaust by
lighting yahrzeit candles (in memory of the dead). Whereas for Spiegel-
man, a portrait of his murdered brother became a central Holocaust
icon, for Finkelstein it is the omnipresent yahrzeit candle. She has
Brantzche observe:
We had a cabinet full of empty yurtsaht (sic) glasses, enough to hold
dozens of drinks at a banquet. To me, yurtsaht(sic) represented yet an-
other Jewish holiday whose celebration was whimsical and whose mean-
ing was indecipherable. I would not have been surprised to learn that
no one else on earth knew a thing about this candle, and assumed that
my father had designed a new holiday to remind us that we were Jews
(p. 133).
The yahrzeit candle is a silent yet omnipresent Holocaust icon.
Brantzche also is told things that children of nonwitnesses never hear.
Scraps of conversation reveal the horrors of the past and their continuing
hold on the present. In conversation with her father, for example, she
hears the following:

"Twenty-eight years ago today, the Nazis gassed my mother and four
sisters," Papa said. He set down the coffee cup. I thought how in a movie
Papa's hands would have trembled, but in real life they were steady.
"And?"I asked.
Papa looked me in the eye. "There is no and," he said. He rubbed the
stumpy thumb against his cheek (p. 134).
Finkelstein is telling the reader that literature written by children of
survivors, because of the intensely personal nature of their exposure to
the Holocaust experiences of their parents, makes a unique statement
about the Shoah's continuing effects.
The two sisters are consumed by a desire to know how their parents
survived. Reluctant to discuss their experiences in any systematic or di-
rect way, the elder Szusters do, nevertheless, provide clues to the ob-
literated past. In addition to the father's laconic comments, Mrs. Szuster
tells the girls a parable, on Shabbat (Saturday) about parents rescuing
children who have been eaten by a bear. To appease her daughters' cu-
riosity, however, the mother shows them old photographs. These photos
of murdered relatives, along with the endless yahrzeit candles and the
occasional parental references to their own losses, form part of the canon
Second GenerationHolocaust Literature 55

of Holocaust images unique to the second generation. That the pictures

represent something quite special is underscored by Brantzche'sobserva-
tion that they were kept in a leather bag because they were "too sacred for
an ordinary photo album" (p. 30).
The crucial link between survivors and the second generation in
SummerLong-a-Comingis, however, provided by survivors' tales. These
tales, the Yad Vashemdepositions, serve, much in the manner suggested
by Wiesel and seen in Spiegelman, to fuel the second generations' imagi-
nation. Rukhl and Yankl describe to the interviewer experiences and re-
flections which they wished to spare their own children. The mother hid
in barns and forests for two years while the father was in a slave labor
camp and in hiding. Neither one understands the Shoah or attempts to
account for it theologically. Their response is instead, as we have seen,
one of faith. Yankl summarizes the belief embraced by him and his wife.
You ask me why I believe in God, how I can still daven to Him three
times a day in light of the senseless destruction of my family. You know,
you can start out at point "A" and head off in twenty-five different di-
rections. You can wander down strange roads for years, but eventually
you have to come back to who you were-to who you are. I believe in
God because I have no one else to believe in (p. 182).

Yankl concludes this portion of his testimony with the direct assertion
that "My mother and father were Jews and I don't know how to be
anything else" (p. 182). This assertion bears striking similarity to the epi-
graph in Wiesel's A Jew Today where he records the saying of Dodye
Feig, his grandfather: "You are Jewish, your task is to remain Jewish.
The rest is up to God."36
Brantzche's Jewish identity derives from two sources; her own per-
ceptions, and specifically through her status as a daughter of Holocaust
survivors. Unlike Spiegelman, she appears firm in her Jewish identity.
Secretly following her older brother to a carnival, for example, she sees
him posing for a picture together with a member of the local KKK who
lets out a rebel yell. Mentally comparing this yell and the carnival to the
Szuster farm, Brantzche observes that the yell "balyhoos subjugation of
the loser, congratulates foreclosure of conscience, elevates immediate
expression, and is a triumph of all that is unsympathetic and godless in a
human being" (108). Against the chaos of the carnival, there stands the
order and dignity of the Szuster farm where conscience, contemplation,
and deliberation are the pillars of Jewish being in the world. Brantzche
at this point is obviously Jewish, but has not yet fully assumed her identity
as a daughter of survivors.
Finkelstein's Brantzche begins to comprehend her Holocaust legacy
when she reflects on her sister's traumatic death. It is only after experi-
encing this trauma that Brantzche can begin to fathom the meaning of
56 Alan Berger

unwarranted suffering. It certainly is no accident, by the way, that a

traumatic death, disappearance, or mental breakdown appear in many
works by or about the second generation, viz., Maus, Summer Long-a-
Coming,DamagedGoods,37The FifthSon to mention but a few. In any case,
Brantzche offers what may be termed a child of survivors philosophy of
survival. Her observation deserves full citation.

Up until that moment, my parents' tales of survival had done little more
than fuel my self-emancipation fantasies of entrapment and escape. At
best, staying alive was a question of odds, of monitoring the whereabouts
of a predator, and side-stepping it in the nick of time. With Perel gone, I
had the sickening realization that survival meant coming out the victor
by chance, not by destiny or individual cunning. The Szusters were
merely like the other creatures on the farm-chickens, earthworms, dogs
-who, on suspending their vigilance for a second, succumbed to a
greater, more confident power (pp. 203-204).

Brantzche's former innocence, i.e., the feeling that she could escape the
tenuousness of the human condition, has begun to be replaced by a sober
maturity. She now realizes the common human vulnerability uniting her
with her parents. Her unwitting experience of tragedy sensitizes Brantzche
to the depths of holocaustal evil. She begins to understand, for example,
that Jews were murdered not for anything they did, but because they had
been born. There was, moreover, no escaping the bureaucracy of murder
which was everywhere abetted by an omnipresent antisemitism.
Brantzche's mature assumption of her identity as a daughter of
survivors is seen in her faithful auditing of the tapes of her parents'
depositions, sent her by another survivor. The act of listening is, itself,
described in terms befitting a ritual. The careful auditor responds to holo-
caustal tales both affectively and cognitively. Affectively, Brantzche ob-
serves that she listens to the tapes "the way observant Jews listen to their
rabbi's sermon on Shabbos (Saturday)." She also attempts to study the
Shoah. "I pore over the stories and their possible interpretations,"
Brantzche says, "just as yeshiva boys burn their eyes out over Pirke Avot
(Sayings of the Fathers are ethical maxims of the early rabbis, and form
part of the second century Jerusalem Talmud or Mishnah). In any case,
listening to tales of a witness makes of one a witness.
Summer Long-a-Coming portrays a variety of survivor images. In ad-
dition to her parents, Brantzche describes Lalke and Mendel Decher,
each of whom had lost their first spouse during the Shoah, and Sonia and
Labyl Kicher, with whom she stays after her own parents make aliyah
(emigrate) to Israel. Like Spiegelman, Finkelstein presents unsparing
portraits. Some survivors are angry at each other, others had been forced
by the Nazis to serve as policemen in the ghettos. Some survivors do not
speak at all of their experiences, while others, especially Sonia, tell endless
HolocaustLiterature 57

holocaustal tales. Unlike Spiegelman, however, Finkelstein's survivors

appear as exalted figures, despite their behavior which clearly dis-
tinguished them from the norms of American culture, because of their
having survived. Finkelstein's insider vantage point reveals the survivors'
continuing survival process. In psychosocial terms, it is significant to
note that survivors form their own society in America. They are in, but
not of, the United States. Their children tend, moreover, to be friendly
with other children of survivors.
By novel's end, Brantzche Szuster is a young adult seeking to formu-
late the elements of her identity as a daughter of survivors. Listening to
her parents' tapes had compelled Brantzche's realization that the Shoah's
meaning would forever elude her. "I was thrown into despair," she
confides, "because,I realized I had never understood anything. Certainly,
I had never known who Rukhl and Yankl Szuster were." Nevertheless,
Brantzche,much in the manner of Wiesel's example, attempts to transform
despair into creativity. In an action characteristic of survivors' children,
she reads Holocaust literature vociferously. Realizing that she is un-
speakably different from her parents, Brantzche nonetheless identifies a
crucial link between the first and second generations. She writes:
Likethem, I live withouthope of settlingscoresyet love life unreason-
ably,and will until the day I die-even though I cannotreclaimwhatI
have lost (p. 262).
This second generation insight, won through the pain of personal ex-
perience, distinguishes works written by children of survivors.
Finkelstein's novel appears to hold a dim view of the Jewish future in
America. A friend, the son of survivors, marries, divorces, and remarries
a non-Jewish woman. Brantzcheherself is unmarried. She observes, more-
over, that America seems unsuited to the task of preserving memory.
"Qualities like moma and papa's fortitude and patience were, contends
Brantzche, "dispensable values here, like memory ... outdated and in-
effective in an age of time-saving, convenience commodities" (p. 301).
Yet, the author herself, as we have seen, counsels not despair but de-
termination to keep alive memory of the Holocaust. She does so, more-
over, in a manner that is sharply distinguished from Rosen's categories.
The appearance of Finkelstein's novel, and others like it, underscores the
fact that there is a distinctive second generation Holocaust literature.
This literature sensitizes the reader to the fact that with the passage of
time, the Holocaust will be remembered in images which, while different
from those employed by the witnessing generation, continue to reveal
the outrage, the pain, and the hope which comprise post-AuschwitzJewish
Lev Raphael has written a series of short stories which illuminate the
Holocaust's second generation legacy. "The Tanteh"38tells of the trans-
58 Alan Berger

forming presence of a non-observant survivor living with her American

relatives. Raphael's work displays keenly the seriousness of second
generation writers who, unlike many other so-called Jewish writers,
wrestle with questions of Jewish identity and covenantal concerns out of
their instensely personal relationship to the Shoah's survivors. For ex-
ample, he presents two types of post-Holocaust Jewish authenticity, a
pious American nonwitness and an atheist survivor who observes: "They
prayed,... and still they died" (p. 18). Taken by his Aunt Rose's European
mannerisms and listening to her holocaustal tales, brief though they were,
the young nephew writes a prize-winning story about her for his English
class. Insulted, the "Tanteh" (aunt) returns to Europe where she dies.
The nephew writes numerous letters of apology all of which go un-
answered. Even while regretting his violation of the aunt's experience,
the young man knows that it is a story he "would write many times"
(p. 20).
Raphael, like Wiesel, implicitly contends both that the Holocaust ex-
perience defies words and that the story must continue to be told. There
is, moreover, an element of sacrality about the Shoah which eludes transla-
tion into language. The story also underscores the complexity of the
relationship between witnesses, nonwitnesses, and the second generation.
The aunt (European Jewry) is a relative, but not part of the immediate
(American) family. European and American Jews are simultaneously
linked and forever separated by the Holocaust. The second generation,
for their part, view the covenantal quandary of contemporary Judaism
through the prism of Auschwitz.
"Listening to the. Silence"39 is a story about a secular survivor and
her American family. Her son recalls his childhood and the fact that his
widowed mother said so little about the war. She was distant and "too
magisterial to yell at" (p. 67). The son does, however, recall that both the
mother and her American-born husband, although never observing any
specifically Judaic rituals, were concerned that their children not inter-
marry. Alone with his mother after his sister went to college, the boy felt
increasingly isolated. It was only after her death that the son found an
old date book with a day in late April marked with the words "My libera-
tion" (written in German). This discovery led to his recognition of loss,
both personal and national. Raphael writes:
The horror had never been so real to me. She was gone and through
her, a world I could never know. A world that was rightfully mine, but
lost, bulldozed, bombed and burned. It was only then that I cried (p. 68).

Going to stay with his sister and her fiance, a believing Jew, the boy
begins to find his own Judaic path.
Raphael's stories underscore the fact that the Holocaust destroyed a
Jewish world whose victims included the pious and the nonbelievers. His
Second Generation Holocaust Literature 59

secular survivors-against all logic-insist upon remaining Jewish and

raise their children Jewishly, thereby emphasizing the non-rational com-
ponent of Jewish identity. His survivors do not speak directly of their
experiences but, rather, reveal many clues from which their children and
other relatives must piece together the outlines of the Holocaust. More-
over, his survivors are quite critical of American Judaism. His short
story "Such a Deal," typifies this attitude. There he describes refugee
Like the first and secondviolinistsof some glorious defunctorchestra
forcedto attendand applauda backyardamateurrecital,my parents,
... had a dim expressionof AmericanJewishlife (p. 15).
Parental disapproval of American Jewish culture is another distinctive
feature of second generation literature, being expressed in all the works
treated by this paper. Raphael also understands that the Shoah was an
attempt to remake the world by destroying the entire House of Israel.
Consequently, all holocaustal loss is both intensely personal yet fraught
with historic and national significance.


The writings of Spiegelman, Finkelstein, Raphael, and other second

generation authors, make a distinctive contribution while revealing di-
mensions of the Holocaust's continuing legacy. Their parents' parenting
was dramatically effected by the war and is reflected in descriptions of
flawed parent-child relationships. Each describes a remote parent and
the difficulty of intergenerational communication. The norms of survivor
parents conflict with American culture. Violence and the continuing
presence of antisemitism and other forms of evil (especially in the works
of Finkelstein and Raphael) mar the post-Auschwitz landscape. Yet each
of these second generation writers has voluntarily embraced, or, in the
case of Spiegelman, reembraced, their Jewish identity. Their central char-
acters all read constantly about the Shoah.It would, however, be a mistake
to assume that the second generation is, collectively, marred by the
Holocaust. Not all children of survivors are psychically damaged.40But
all of them have been touched deeply by the Shoah.These second genera-
tion writings illustrate, moreover, that Rosen's second life of Holocaust
imagery is indeed being supplemented by a new type of Holocaust
writing, as it must be for the sake of authenticity.
The Holocaust remains a deep and impenetrable mystery, the source
of much pain and uncertainty. But if this brief survey is any guide, suc-
ceeding generations will continue to wrestle, much in the manner of
Jacob, with the problematic of Jewish identity. The covenantal core as-
60 Alan Berger

sumptions of Jewish existence have, however, been challenged in an un-

precedented way. The theological position of the second generation
reflects a chastening, or, more accurately, a recognition that the divine is
increasingly concealed. The survivor parents either accept or reject cove-
nantal faith, but all have been indelibly seared by the Shoah's flames.
There are, moreover, no grandparents to help teach the intricacies of
trodding the covenantal path. The second generation's lack of overt
reference to God should not, however, be equated with either indifference
or rejection. This literature reflects, rather, the wisdom of Greenberg's
observation concerning the voluntary covenant. Those who voluntarily
embrace the covenant by voluntarily living a Jewish life express an "af-
firmation of God's presence."41This generation's writings constitute a
new stage in affirming the divine. These works utilize, although in a
largely unselfconscious way, Greenberg's theological yardstick of the in-
creasing hiddenness of the divine. Consequently, contemporary cove-
nantal affirmations must always be made against the ominous background
of the Holocaust, and the painful complex of memories of growing up in
a home which reflected in a variety of ways the Shoah's continuing im-
pact. Authors of this literature quarrel with, while remaining within,
Judaism. Second generation novels are, therefore not merely literature,
but comprise a powerful theological statement. They continue to examine
questions of Jewish identity and covenantal concerns at a time when many
other allegedly Jewish novels do not. Second generation writings reflect,
therefore, not only the fact that the Holocaust happened, but that its
effects continue to be felt, and that all subsequent Jewish affirmation
must be illumined by the Shoah'sflames.


1. Elie Wiesel, "Talking and Writing and Keeping Silent," in The German
ChurchStruggleand the Holocaust,edited by F. H. Littell and H. G. Locke (Detroit,
1974), p. 269.
2. Elie Wiesel, The Fifth Son (New York, 1985). For a full discussion of this
text as a Holocaust novel see A. L. Berger, Crisisand Covenant:The Holocaustin
AmericanJewishFiction(Albany, 1985), pp. 68-79.
3. See my earlier study "Memory and Meaning," in Methodologyin theAcademic
Teaching of the Holocaust, edited by Z. Garber, A. L. Berger, and R. Libowitz
(Lantham [MD], 1988), pp. 171-189. For a penetrating study of this theme in
French second generation literature see the work of Ellen S. Fine, "New Kinds of
Witnesses: French Post-Holocaust Writers," in Holocaust Studies Annual, Vol-
ume III, edited by S. Pinsker and J. Fischel (Greenwood [Florida], 1985),
pp. 121-136.
Second GenerationHolocaust Literature 61

4. Alvin H. Rosenfeld, A Double Dying: Reflections on Holocaust Literature

(Bloomington, 1980), p. 19. Rosenfeld in the same passage also underscores the
regrettable absence of a "phenomenology of reading Holocaust literature."
5. Arthur A. Cohen, The Tremendum:A TheologicalInterpretationof the Holo-
caust(New York, 1981), p. 23.
6. Irving Abrahamson (ed.), AgainstSilence:The Voiceand Visionof Elie Wiesel
(New York, 1985), Vol. I, p. 44.
7. Ellen S. Fine, Legacyof Night: The LiteraryUniverseof Elie Wiesel(Albany,
1982), p. 9.
8. Yehuda Bauer, The Holocaustin HistoricalPerspective(Seattle, 1982), p. 45.
9. See Anna Kolodner's excellent study, "The Socialization of Children of
Concentration Camp Survivors" Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation (Boston Uni-
versity, 1987), pp. 19-20.
10. On this theme see A. L. Berger, "Holocaust Survivors and Children in
Anya and Mr. Sammler'sPlanet,"in ModernLanguageStudies,Vol. 16, No. 1 (Winter,
1986), pp. 81-87.
11. Irving Greenberg, VoluntaryCovenant(New York, 1982), p. 27. Greenberg's
notion of voluntary covenant, with its emphasis on the increased responsibility of
the human covenantal partner is a richly suggestive one for post-Auschwitz
Judaism. For its application to contemporary American Jewish novels see Berger,
Crisisand Covenant.Its theological implications are detailed in my study "Cove-
nant and Crucible: Jewish Theological Encounters with the Holocaust," in Pro-
Studies(Siena College, Forthcoming).
ceedingsof the Institutefor Jewish-Christian
12. Norma Rosen, "The Second Life of Holocaust Imagery," Midstream,
Vol. 33, No. 4 (April, 1987), pp. 56-59.
13. Ibid., 58.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. Primo Levi compares stories of survivors to a new Bible. See his Survivalin
Auschwitz,(New York, 1961), p. 59. Elie Wiesel, for his part, insists that the degree
of holocaustal assault against the covenant was so great that "We have to write a
new Talmud just as we did after the destruction of the Second Temple . . . in
order to accentuate the new beginning." Elie Wiesel, "Jewish Values in the Post-
Holocaust Future: A Symposium," in Judaism, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Summer, 1967),
p. 285. Irving Greenberg goes further in suggesting that "accountsof these events"
(what happened to the Jewish people during the Holocaust) "and the lives and
the models that grow out of them constitute a new Scripture and a new Talmud."
Greenberg, "The Voluntary Covenant" (New York, 1982), p. 27. Greenberg
discerns, moreover, three types'of Scriptures: writings of the victims-both those
who survived and those who did not-special films depicting the Shoah, and
accounts of lives of survivors. See his "The Third Great Cycle in Jewish History"
(New York, 1981), pp. 40-41. The sanctity of the victims' writings is noted even
among orthodox circles. Eliezer Berkovits writes, for example, "When one day
the last written messages from the ghettoes and the death camps will be assembled
in an edition worthy of the depth of their truth and inspiration, mankind will
possess in them a new collection of holy scriptures."FaithAfterthe Holocaust(New
York, 1973), p. 78.
62 Alan Berger

18. Abrahamson, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 198.

19. Greenberg, op. cit., p. 11.
20. Greenberg, op. cit., p. 21.
21. Abrahamson, op. cit., Vol. III, p. 322.
22. Kolodner, op. cit., pp. 19-20.
23. "The Fifth Child," was composed by The National Jewish Center for
Learning and Leadership, under the guidance of Irving Greenberg, 1988. This
moving piece underscores Greenberg's long held contention that rituals specifi-
cally marking the Holocaust need to be incorporated into Jewish liturgical life
and utterance.
24. Maurice Friedman terms Wiesel's stance the Messianism of the Unre-
deemed. He cites Wiesel's own words in defining this type of messianism. It
underscores the need "To remain human in a world that is inhuman." Maurice
Friedman, Abraham Joshua Heschel and Elie Wiesel: You Are My Witnesses (New
York, 1987), p. 233.
25. Art Spiegelman, Maus(New York, 1986).All citations are from this edition.
26. Barbara Finkelstein, SummerLong-a-Coming(New York, 1987). Citations
are from this edition. A portion of this discussion appears in my essay "Ashes and
Hope: The Holocaust in Second Generation American Literature," in The Holo-
caust: Reflections in Art and Literature, edited by Randolph L. Braham (Boulder:
Social Science Monographs, scheduled for publication in 1989).
27. On this point see the revealing interview of Spiegelman by Lawrence
Wechsler, "Mighty 'Maus,"' in Rolling Stone(November 20, 1986), p. 106.
28. David A. Gerber, "Of Mice and Jews: Cartoons, Metaphors, and Children
of Holocaust Survivors in Recent Jewish Experience: A Review Essay,"in Ameri-
canJewishHistory,Vol. 77 (September, 1987), p. 167.
29. Ibid.
30. Wechsler, op. cit., p. 148.
31. Interview by Aron Hirt-Manheimer, "The Art of Art Spiegelman," Reform
Judaism(Spring, 1987), p. 23.
32. On this matter see the novels discussed in Berger, Crisisand Covenant,
chapter four.
33. Dreams are frequently seen as decisive meetings with the sacred and have
implications for daily encounters either as warnings or as prophecies. See Peter
L. Berger, The SacredCanopy(Garden City, 1967), p. 43.
34. Berkovits's understanding of the relationship between the Holocaust and
Orthodox theology is contained in his book FaithAfter the Holocaust(New York:
KTAV, 1973). For a critique of Berkovits's view see A. L. Berger, "Holocaust and
History: A Theological Reflection," in Journalof EcumenicalStudies,Vol. 25, No. 2
(Fall, 1988), pp. 203-205, and 207-208; and Steven T. Katz, "Eliezer Berkovits's
Post-Holocaust Jewish Theodicy," in his Post-Holocaust Dialogues: Critical Studies
in ModernJewish Thought(New York, 1983), pp. 268-287.
35. This story appears in Nissenson's early collection A Pile of Stones (New
York, 1965). For an analysis of Nissenson's Holocaust stories see Berger, Crisisand
Covenant,pp. 59-65, and pp. 137-144.
36. Elie Wiesel, A Jew Today (New York, 1979).
37. Thomas Friedmann, DamagedGoods(New York, 1984). This novel reveals
the complexity of survivor-parent child relationships while simultaneously pro-
Second GenerationHolocaust Literature 63

viding an insider's view of the conflict between European Orthodoxy and Ameri-
can Judaism. For further analysis of this novel see A. L. Berger, "Memory and
Meaning: The Holocaust in Second Generation Literature," pp. 177-179.
38. Lev Raphael, "The Tanteh," Jewish Currents(March, 1986), pp. 17-20.
Among Raphael's Holocaust writings the following are especially significant in
illuminating the complexity of the second generation's relationship to the Shoah:
"Mysterious Obsession," BaltimoreJewish Times(April 27, 1984), pp. 76-82;"Roy's
Jewish Problem," Commentary,Vol. 80, No. 3 (September, 1985), pp. 62-66; "Such
a Deal," Midstream,Vol. 33, No. 7 (Aug/Sept., 1987), pp. 15-18; and "Reunion,"
HadassahMagazine,(January, 1988), pp. 20-23.
39. Lev Raphael, "Listening to the Silence," BaltimoreJewishTimes(February8,
1975), pp. 66-69.
40. Certain second generation biographies of survivor parents represent the
triumph of hope over despair, while revealing a warm and healthy survivor
parent-child relationship. See, for example Michael Kornblit, Until WeMeetAgain
(New York, 1983), and the articles by David Lee Preston, "A Bird in the Wind,"
The PhiladelphiaInquirerMagazine(May 8, 1983),pp. 12-16and 28-30;and "Journey
To My Father's Holocaust," The PhiladelphiaInquirerMagazine(April 21, 1985),
pp. 20-27.
41. Greenberg, op. cit., p. 21.