Next year will mark 70 years since the liberation of the concentration camps from the
Nazis. Extensive research has covered the effects of the trauma on the survivors and their
children. Clinical research on survivors, especially directly after the war and in recent years
when many are facing their own death and that of loved ones, describe people still haunted
by their past. The literature on the transmission of trauma to Offspring of Holocaust
Survivors (OHS) remains divided about what, how and if Holocaust trauma is transmitted.
Lately, researchers have started concentrating on the grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors
(GHS). Some research depicts stories of transmission of post traumatic disorder or
vulnerability. Others concentrate on transmission of post traumatic growth or resilience.
This paper aims to explore this controversy within the research of trauma transmission.
The non-clinical literature has not found any psychopathology in the general population of
GHS. However, some GHS appear to display maladaptive behaviour possibly linked to
having a survivor grandparent. These are sometimes presented as a vulnerability and other
times as a resilience. The various methodologies, modes, definitions of pathology and
variables used in the studies can be partially attributed to the differences in findings. As the
time from the original trauma passes, the difficulties in assessing the effects increase.
Some clinical research have indicated a possible link between communication and parenting
styles and trauma transmission. The GHS have been described as helping to bridge
the gap in communication between the generations. Many unknowns still exist about trauma
transmission to GHS therefore more research in this area is still required in assessing
the possible role interfamily communication plays.