Internment in Concentration Camps and Its Consequences

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It remained for Nazi Germany to design the most satanic psychological experi- ment of all time, the independent variables consisting of brutality, bestiality, physical and mental torture on an unprecedented scale. What were the effects of this massive assault on the human spirit, on man's ability to assimilate such experiences, if he survived physically? While the terror of the Nazi concentration camps has been indelibly engraved in the history of Western civilization as its most shameful chapter, little systematic study has been addressed to the subsequent lives of that minority of inmates who were fortunate enough to escape physical annihilation and lived to tell about their nightmare. Dr. PAUL MATUSSEK, a respected German psychiatrist, aided by a small group of collaborators, performed the task of identifying a group of victims (mostly Jews but also political prisoners), who, following their liberation, had settled in Germany, Israel, and the United States. By careful interviews, questionnaires, and psychological tests he brought to bear the methods of sensitive clinical inquiry on the experiences of those who dared to reminisce and who were sufficiently trusting to share their feelings and memories with clinical investigators. It is a telling commentary that many people, even after the passage of years, refused to respond.