While trauma can be transmitted across the generations, so can resilience. Resilient traits - such as adaptability, initiative, and tenacity - that enabled survivor-parents to survive the Holocaust may have been passed on to their children.
In addition, studies have shown that Holocaust survivors and their children have a tendency to be task-oriented and hard workers. They also know how to actively cope with and adapt to challenges. Strong family values is another positive characteristic displayed by many survivors and their children.
As a group, the survivor and children of survivor community have a tribal character in that membership in the group is based on shared injuries. Within this community, there is polarization. One the one hand, there is shame over being a victim, fear of being stigmatized, and the need to keep defense mechanisms on active alert. On the other hand, there is a need for understanding and recognition.
In their "search to retrieve 'Aryan blood,'" SS race experts ordered hundreds of children in occupied Poland and the occupied Soviet Union to be kidnapped and transferred to the Reich to be adopted by racially suitable German families. Although the basis for these decisions was "race-scientific," often blond hair, blue eyes, or fair skin was sufficient to merit the "opportunity" to be "Germanized." On the other hand, female Poles and Soviet civilians who had been deported to Germany for forced labor and who had had sexual relations with a German man -- often under duress -- resulting in pregnancy were forced to have abortions or to bear their children under conditions that would ensure the infant's death, if the "race experts" determined that the child would have insufficient German blood.
Recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous among the Nations, Irena epitomized compassion, love, kindness and sacrifice. Moreover, whenever she was bestowed with an honour or recognition for her spectacularly noble efforts and accomplishments, she expressed genuine humility and modesty, even so far as remorse, in believing she could have saved more children if she had tried to. In all of human history, one would struggle to find a heroine of such magnitude, who emodied such gentleness and modesty. Irena shone like an angel in the terrible, tragic darkness of the Holocaust.