Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Barbara Schechter Cohen - May 1, 2002

Reaction to Camps

Um, when you went to these--when you went to places like the, like the museum or the conference um, what, what were you thinking about in terms of your own experience? Did you think about your parents, what they must have gone through or what they hadn't gone through?

And I wanted to find out how, a little bit more about children of the second generation, how they're dealing with issues with their personal lives, with their jobs, with their children.

How are they?

Uh. They have this guilt problem too. Big guilt problem.

Do you think that it, it, it reached out to your children? Do you think it sort of was handed down to even another generation?

I think so. I tried hard, because I was very aware of what I didn't want to do. But um, my daughter reminds me of myself. She feels uh, guilty about every little thing she does. Now I don't know if she would be like that, say I wasn't a Holocaust survivor, you know. Um, you know, her self-esteem is improving. But she had a very low self-esteem when she was growing up. But I think teenagers are like that.

What's her name?

Debbie. Debbie Gordon.

And your son's name?

Get it on tape. [laughs] She'll, she'll listen to this one of these days, I better watch what I say.

Your son's name?

Ronald. Ron, excuse me. Ron Cohen.

What was your maiden name?




I'll make sure that it gets put in. Um, when you took the course um, you said you, you were less emotional about it now and you had been more philosophical. Was there anything particular in the course, apart from Primo Levi, that, that seemed to make you more up...upset than other things? I mean, it wasn't just an academic experience for you.

No. Well um, it, it just I felt like I needed to share this with people. I just felt like I needed to talk, you know. Uh, and not that I w...walk, walked in the class and told who I was until practically the very end, because on the other hand, I don't want attention to me particular but to you know, the subject matter.

Yeah. I know when survivors have come to the class, they're always so struck by the number of students in the class...


and the kinds of questions they ask.

Yes, I felt like uh, your, your--that your--that the students just, before they came into your class really didn't know that much.

I'm not sure how much they knew afterwards. [laughs] No, some are quite good.

They weren't really aware.

That's right. No idea whatsoever.

No idea. No idea. And uh, also you know, my aunt, uh, uh, I--you know, remember I gave you this book. She's Professor Carre. She writes book, books about the Holocaust and lectures all over Europe. And she--when I visited her about five or six years ago, we were having a discussion and she asked me a question and I couldn't answer and she says--and again, she made me feel so guilty--she says, "You better go and read up about this. You know, like I couldn't answer the question. It was something sort of basic. I felt so bad. I thought to myself, she's right you know, I should know about my own history. That was another reason.

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