, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 21-47
Date: 24 Jan 2009

Political Tolerance and Intolerance: Using Qualitative Interviews to Understand the Attitudes of Holocaust Survivors

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The attitudes of victims toward their perpetrators have not been well documented. In examining qualitative interviews of Holocaust survivors, survivors evidenced three different political attitudes. Survivors were intolerant, limited-tolerant, or tolerant toward the perpetrators. Analyzing the political factors of perceived threat, worldview, strength of in-group identity, political ideology, and voting behavior revealed the differences among the three groups. Only intolerant and limited-tolerant survivors perceived the world as a threatening place. Some intolerant and limited-intolerant survivors exhibited anger and acts of revenge toward the perpetrators and the groups they represented, while only tolerant survivors targeted their altruistic behavior to help non-Jews. Finally, more survivors in the tolerant group hid during the war than in the other two groups. They were also more likely to have survived with one or both parents and/or other key family members, which may facilitate the transmission of messages of tolerance to the survivor.