Monthly Article Archives: November 2008

ForgivenessRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

I grew up in a three-family house in Brooklyn. When I was a teenager a family moved into the apartment below ours. The parents, Sam and Betty (these are pseudonyms), were both Holocaust survivors who met in the United States following World War II. They had one child, a son, who was several years younger than I was. A quick glance at the arms of each parent bore witness to their having been in a Nazi death camp. A sequence of numbers had been tattooed into their skin. The Nazis attempted to deprive millions of their identity and humanity by replacing names with numbers. What struck me more than the numbers on their arms was the sadness that seemed a permanent feature of their facial expressions and body posture. Sam and Betty rarely, if ever, smiled and any sparkle that may have once existed in their eyes was long gone, erased by the unimaginable horrors to which they had been subjected. Years later as a psychologist I was reminded of their eyes when working with some children who had been abused and traumatized. I had read articles about the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, but until this family moved into

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