Phantom-pains of Poland

A Post-traumatic Reaction To The Lost of Jews Caused by Holocaust


Julia Maria Koszewska

Julia Maria Koszewska - PhD, DocSocSci. Degree earned at University of Warsaw, Poland. Her doctoral research explored the relation between the Holocaust education, collective memory and identity in Poland and Israel in practices of state-owned museums

The post-traumatic stress disorder have been studied from several perspectives: historical and psychological aspect of transmission of trauma. However in all studies it has been presented in relation to the direct victims and their descendants.

The authors present new perspective of post-Holocaust trauma.The trauma of Polish society who because of Holocaust has lost its Jews. Usually the researches don't realise that the lost of the Jewish part of polish society is not only a lost for the history of Jewish nation but also a lost for Polish society.The departure point is that the collective trauma can affect also non-direct victims, this paper aims proving that this trauma can affect also non-relatives of direct victims but also influence broader consciousness of polish society who still(or only now: after the transformation of 1989) feels and is ready to speak out the loss. This 'group of memory' feeling is being compared to the the R. Melzack's concept of' 'neuromatrix' and to the pain syndromes such as the phantom-pains. This paper applies this medical concept to the social milieu: the loss of the Jewish presence is being internalised by Poles today and often expressed as something they can feel. The paper presents also several solutions by the Polish society in order to face the loss and cure the pain: the good-practices of regaining the 'local knowledge' (after M. Foucault) about the lost limbs: Polish Jews. The metaphor of "phantom-pains" is used here as a departure point for understanding how the polish society is dealing with the trauma of the loss of the Jews and finds the answer on:how is it possible for Poles who didn't experience the actual trauma and were born into "Poland without Jews", to feel those "phantom pains"?

The uniqueness and innovation that this paper brings,lays also in diverse perspectives the subject is studied: using terms of neuro-psychology, sociology and memory studies, but also from several points of view by the authors. Both authors were born in same year – as the third generation in families who survived the Second World War. Yechiel Weizman – young researcher, born in Israel to the Holocaust Survivors' family, and Julia Koszewska – young researcher and activist, born in Poland to the family of activists of the polish resistance movement during the WWII. Their personal lenses reflect in broadening the perspective on the examined issue.

More Info: "oral presentation together with Yechiel Weizman of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israelpresentation in session Sociology Of Emotion at the 10th conference of the European Sociological Association: "Social Relations in Turbulent Times" Geneva, Sept. 2011.""