Holocaust survivor and second-generation writers like Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Art Speigelman struggle with Holocaust trauma throughout their writing. Their writing includes certain distinctive characteristics like the hesitancy to speak at all, the “deep sense of moral urgency” to share the truth, and the utter sorrow of acknowledging Holocaust suffering (Teichman and Leder 4). While some survivors wrote to preserve the truth about the Shoah, others believe that the “most appropriate response…is silence” (Teichman and Leder 1). Words fall short, inadequately describe the horrors survivors faced, and seem to almost distort the truth about the Holocaust itself. Survivor silence then translates to their children. The second generation learned not to ask questions, to keep silent themselves, but they still experience a kind of reenacted past that is “not just remembered, it is re-lived” (Katz 240). Although, when faced with their parents’ silence and their own reenacted memories the second generation often attempts to appropriate their parents’ trauma, a characteristic that haunts their writing.
Reynolds, Megan, "Constructing the Imaginative Bridge: Third-Generation Holocaust Narratives" (2015). Undergraduate Student Research Awards. 28.