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- May 2019
The Third-Generation normalized the process of dialogue. Bar-On and his team developed a paradigm for how to work through the Holocaust through knowledge, understanding, emotions, attitude, and behavior. What they discovered is that for the Third-Generation, the Holocaust either has no relevance, which they call “under generalization” or “over generalization,” where everything is seen through the prism of the Holocaust. A more normalized reaction to a Shoah family background is the “partial relevance,” an “in-between” and more balanced perspective.
The Third-Generation in America (or “3Gs,” as they are known) have only recently started to become a visible group, but not with the same intensity as the Second-Generation. Age-wise, they span the gamut from newborns to forty-year-olds. Among them, those in their twenties and thirties are grappling with identity formation, with establishing intimate relations, and with having children.
From the psychological research the only significant finding is that grandchildren of survivors as a group, are higher achievers than their peers. In 2002 Ellisa Ganz found that Third-Generation individuals are twice as likely to choose an occupation in the helping professions. Ganz also found, however, that those 3Gs who are in therapy are in treatment for longer periods than a comparative group.
Yoslow observed that the Third-Generation has a deep affection for humanity, which is a transformation of the post-Holocaust trauma. This process is the ability to transform the emotional effects of the Holocaust by letting go, and thus increases the quest for meaning in ones life and concern for social issues.
Today, Third-Generation individuals whose professional lives have been shaped by their grandparent’s ordeals are found in the creative arts, in helping professions, human rights work and in Jewish studies and communal work. The Third-Generation members are no different from those in the Second-Generation, who gravitated towards the creative arts in order to remember the barbarity committed against the Jews living in German-occupied countries and , the Jewish life that was destroyed, and to raise consciousness about present-day racism, human-rights violations, and genocides.
Flora Hogman conducted a case study of Second and Third-Generation, and in her sample of the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors she noticed that they feel a sense of pride and awe of the survivors. This awareness of the suffering is part of the fabric of their lives, but is channeled into empathy, political activism, greater consciousness of others suffering, and a reluctance to intermarry.