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Presentation on Second Generation Launched- Moving to Connect Globally

I am excited to be making connections around the world to present and discuss the findings, insights, questions and messages that came out of my years of study and introspection on the "Second Generation in their Second Half of Life."

Something has really resonated for me on this journey and I am always moved to see, hear and sense how it touches and moves others like myself.

We are a very particular bunch or "cohort", I must say- diverse, similar, some who deny the very term "second generation", others who dive obssessively into things and teh past...but what I definitely feel is that we are all part of a "phase in history"- an essential "hinge" between our parents and the next generation, who are farther away. This should not mean "less concerned" and that is our role at this time. Looking forward to getting in front of audiences online and in person to carry these messages!


Reflections of Children of Holocaust Survivors in their Second Half of Life

Ronnie Dunetz, PhD

“The Second Generation will never know what the First Generation does in its bones, but what the Second Generation knows better than anyone else is the First Generation.” (Bukiet, 2002)

  • What was it like growing up as a child to parents who went through one of the most horrific genocides in modern history- the Shoah?

  • How do these Second Generation individuals (“2G”), in their second half of life, view the impact and influence of the Holocaust on their life’s journey, on the people who they became?

  • What messages do these 2G carry with them from their parents and what legacies are they transmitting to the generations after?

  • What is the existential search for meaning exhibited by many 2G and what forms has it taken?

Today, 2Gs are nearly all in their 50s, 60s and 70s. They can apply the wisdom of their own life experience to understand the struggles, challenges and immense accomplishments of their survivor parents. The Second Generation is the “hinge generation” (term coined by Eva Hoffman), the ones who had the closest contact to those who survived the Holocaust, the ones who can speak of the intimate moments of silence as well as the deep sense of legacy that they feel inside them.

It is the second generation, today the grandparents of the younger generation, who are the “hinges”: opening and closing the memories, the struggles, the hope and the drive of their parents  to “choose life” by bringing it forth and securing its continuation. The Second Generation holds the torch as the responsibility to remember and never forget is being passed on to its descendants.

This presentation encompasses my doctoral research work in interviewing forty-one 2G from eleven different countries. It represents my experience and journey as a 2G qualitative researcher interacting with others like myself, all of whom are both diverse and similar in so many ways. In these most tragic and dangerous times for Israel and the Jewish people since the Shoah, I invite you to share this meaningful exploration, important conversation and sacred path of memory, reflection and dedication to our sacred legacy.

“You [the Second Generation] have managed to re-channel your sadness, your anger, your inherited memories into such humanistic endeavors as medicine, law, social action, education, philanthropy. In other words, you are really the worthy children of your parents.”

 (Eli Wiesel)

(A short excerpt from my first presentation on my doctoral research: "Reflecting Back and Looking Forward", sponsored by "The Together Plan", based in the UK.)


In the Words of Attendees:

“The extent of the trauma that we carry and pass from generation to generation as an outcome of the human tragedy that was the Holocaust has yet to be confronted. Ronnie, through your research and your initiative you are taking us into a new paradigm and a place where people need to talk, explore, listen and be heard. This is badly needed and I salute you for taking this forward.” (Debra Brunner,​​​​ CEO, The Together Plan).”

“I was impressed by your thorough informative presentation. I related to and understood so many of the 2G experiences and responses. Thank you for your hard work to research and share the voices of Second Generation.” (Peppy Margolis, US).

“The talk affected me very deeply [as a 2g]. It is hard to speak now.” (Ed Stein, US).

"Thank you, Ronnie, for a profound lecture about so many points that have resonated with me throughout the many stages of my life. There is no doubt that looking back is very important in improving my life in the present and future." (Michal Shaltiel, Israel).

“You presentation was perfect, so comprehensive, so real. My home was a very difficult place, there was no talking about anything. Today things look so different. Thank-you for the very important work you have done!” (F.B., France-Israel).

“Since hearing your presentation I have given so much thought to your presentation and have shared it with many people.  I never cease to be amazed by details of the commonality we 2Gs share. You articulated so clearly our experiences and thoughts.” (Sandy Druck, Canada).

 “Ronnie Thank-you! I was very moved by your presentation and I want to thank you for your research and for sharing it so generously.” (Miriam Suss OAM, Australia).

“You have helped me better understand post trauma stress of survivors.  I have met 2G people in my working life and I can now better relate to their personal issues. I wish I had had this insight at that time.” (N.B., UK)

“Thanks very much Ronnie , I found our session very important and rewarding.” (J.K., Australia)

"Ronnie, my congratulations! Your presentation was very powerful indeed!"

(Tamara Vershitskaya, Belarus)

"Kol hakavod! Thank you for this very informative lecture." (Eva Vasdaz, Hungary-Israel).

“Thank you for the great presentation today and the great work you all are doing there.”(A.N.M., Rwanda).

"Very powerful and impressive. Amazing work. Thank you for sharing."(Elise Ciner, US).

"Very moving presentation! Very well presented and very professional. Great and important work. Your father and thousands of others would be very moved and proud to know their lives are being honored and remembered". (Jeremy-Krauss, US- Germany).

“Thank you again,  Dear Ronnie. Till my 40’s, I thought I was not normal and I am so relived to see that not only me is suffering of those characteristics.”

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