Rebuilding Lives – Starting Over

The Holocaust caused the death of over six million people. While those who survived the atrocities inflicted on them, the days, months, and years following the war were far from easy. Simply exiting a concentration camp and starting their lives where they left off was impossible. In most cases the homes, families, and entire communities that a person had known and love were completely destroyed. Rebuilding their lives was difficult and just coping with the mental and emotional anguish was more difficult than most people can imagine.
Logistically, Jews had a huge challenge because the Nazis had literally taken away everything from them, even their name. Their papers were gone – they had no passport, no nationality, no home, and not even an official name. Many of their homes had been given to non-Jews, and the return of the Jewish survivors was often greeted with anger and hostility since those who had taken over their homes assumed the Jews would demand their property back. In some cases it took over a decade for one to become a recognized civil being again or to gain nationality. It was a further indignity caused by the Nazis.
The Holocaust ripped families apart, and after they were physically able the first step for rebuilding their lives for many was to find their relatives. In some cases families were separated, in others they actually had to watch their loved ones die. In some cases finding family was easy, but for most it took years to track down those that they had thought lost forever. In some cases, survivors are still trying to find their family to this day.
Of course, finding family and regaining a home and nationality were important. But in terms of rebuilding a life and returning to where one once was, the prospect was usually impossible. Even after the physical scars had healed, the mental and psychological damage was tremendous. Greif, anger, and many other emotions persisted for a lifetime, and depression and other mental issues ran rampant through the survivors.
While Holocaust survivors gradually began to return to a somewhat normal life, the damage that Hitler and his minions wrought is something that isn't easily erased. They may go through their lives able to participate in society, but the fact is that rebuilding their shattered lives is far from easy and something that many survivors struggle with today. The memories are simply too painful and too great to just lust go.