Recurrent trauma: Holocaust survivors cope with aging and cancer

  • Shira Hantman
  • Zahava Solomon



The current study aims to determine whether elderly Holocaust survivors are affected differently from non-survivors by the adversity of aging and cancer.


Holocaust survivors and non-survivors suffering from cancer, were assessed tapping PTSD, psychiatric symptomatology, psychosocial adjustment to illness and coping with the aftermath of the Holocaust.


Findings indicate a significant difference between survivors and non-survivors in post-traumatic symptoms and their intensity, survivors endorsing significantly more PTSD symptoms. Survivors were classified into 3 sub-groups, namely “Victims,” “Fighters,” and “Those who made it”. “Victims” reported the highest percentage of persons who met PTSD, psychiatric symptomatology and difficulty coping with the problems of old age.


The diversity of responses points to heterogeneity of long-term adaptation and adjustment among Holocaust survivors and similar response to subsequent adversity.

Key words

holocaust aging cancer post-traumatic stress disorder coping 



This study was supported by Grants [19992010 and 980062c] from the Israel Cancer Association.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tel-Hai Academic CollegeTel-Hai (Upper Galilee)Israel
  2. 2.Adler Research Centre for Child Welfare and Protection, The Bob Shapell School of Social WorkTel-Aviv University, Ramat AvivTel-AvivIsrael

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