Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Nathan, Bernard, and Samuel Offen - September 3, 1987


BO: It's uh, interesting that the mind of a survivor, its interesting when people talk about trains, for instance, when people here in America talk about trains, they know what kind of train they mean, but when you say to a survivor, the question is, what kind of a train do you mean? Theres trains and theres trains. Its, it's like a trigger, you know. Its uh, you know, its still there. Its uh, many words will trigger me at least. So uh, its uh, it's like I forget it for long periods of time but there's, there's words that will trigger me or visual sights or a picture, you know. Something will trigger me. My process of healing has been uh, uh, I think up to 1980, no '75 or so, is when I really started healing myself by uh, looking at my past more. Confronting it. And uh, see how that is still running me, the memory of that and uh, how that was running me still then. As it is in some way today, Im sure, probably unconscious. But uh, I was avoiding talking about that for a long, long time, till that time. But I realized at that point in time that unless I talk about it, it's deep within me, its deep within my brothers and unless I bring it up and kind of let it, you know, escape, like Nathan said, its gonna kill me in the end. The hatred and all that, it will kill me, and hes absolutely right. So its about uh, not necessarily about uh, forgiveness. Well, I look at it uh, now in a different way than forgiveness. Some people when you say, "well I forgive," I can only forgive for myself. I cannot forgive for my parents. I cannot forgive for my sister and anyone else. I can only forgive for myself. And I forgive for myself because what I realized is that unless I forgive that means that I am still holding it within me and that means I am still generating anger within myself. Im holding it in my body. And Ive gotta let that go otherwise it will get me sick. And forgiveness is not forgetfulness. I dont, I dont hook the two things together as some people do. So forgiveness is for my own sake that I forgive. That does not mean approval, that does not mean any of those, that does not mean for...forgetting. So I dont mix the two things up about forgiveness and forgetting. And I, uh, I need to let go of that stuff. Start to look the world in todays terms.

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