Research has examined psychological symptoms, communication patterns from parent to child, parenting style, and protective and resiliency factors in descendants of Holocaust survivors. The current study explored intergenerational trauma and resilience in second- and third-generation Holocaust survivors as compared to a matched comparison group. Four groups were studied based on the participants’ Holocaust background and demographics: second generation (2GH; n=47) and third generation survivors (3GH; n=45) who self-identified as having at least one parent or grandparent, respectively, who is/was a Holocaust survivor interned during the war, and a matched comparison group (2GM; n=22, 3GM; n=13) for each generation consisting of non-Jewish descent who had one parent or grandparent who emigrated from the same European countries between 1945-1952. Ten 2GH and 3GH participants opted to complete the additional qualitative interview in which they were asked questions about their experiences as a descendant of a Holocaust survivor. Results showed that third-generation survivors endorsed more symptomatology than the matched comparison group; however, second generation survivors did not endorse more symptomatology than second generation match comparisons. Additionally, when descendants reported less adaptive family communication, affect responsiveness, and family cohesion, they reported higher levels of symptomatology. Lastly, we found that descendants who reported turning toward religion during times of stress (positive religious coping) endorsed higher levels of obsessive-compulsive and anxiety symptoms and those who endorsed turning away from religion in times of stress (negative religious coping) reported more depressive symptoms. A conceptual model is presented that includes vulnerability and resilience factors related to the intergenerational effects of Holocaust exposure.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Post-traumatic stress disorder -- Patients -- Family relationships; Children of Holocaust survivors -- Psychology -- Case studies; Grandchildren of Holocaust survivors -- Psychology -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Bryant-Davis, Thema;