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Prisoner of Her Past
Sixty years after the war, a survivor is running and hiding again...

Monthly Archives: October 2010

Published on October 23rd, 2010 by Howard Reich

Dr. Helena Klimova (photo courtesy of Prague Jewish Museum)

One of our most enlightening screenings unfolded in Prague,

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American Center, on Oct. coupon free cialis 14. Presented by several organizations, including the Jewish Museum and the U.S. Embassy, the event was striking for who was in the audience (as well as the sweet fact that an additional room had to be opened up to accommodate the overflow).

For starters, several psychiatrists and psychologists from the Rafael Institute offered revelatory insights. They were led by Dr. Helena Klimova (pictured above), a child survivor of the Holocaust herself.

Dr. Klimova pointed out that my mother’s refusal to acknowledge any semblance of her past — as seen in the film — attests to my mother’s iron will.

“The way she defends herself is a sign of her strength,” said Dr. Klimova to viagra made of the crowd. “This is the way she is holding her life together.”

Dr. Klimova, in other words, sees my mother not as a victim of her bestcanadianpharmacy-topmax current psychiatric condition but as a fighter who is ferociously battling a past that continues to haunt her.

Dr. Klimova also emphasized the very different way my mother’s cousin Leon, also a child Holocaust survivor,

has drawn upon his own strength: not by blocking his past but by rushing toward it. Dr. Klimova found Leon quite unusual in this regard, but she said this may point to Leon’s growth since his trauma. “It is possible there may be a development that leads you to mental health” following trauma, she said. She added that the very making of the film is a sign that a second and third generation is able to begin to recover from a family’s trauma.

Other experts analyzed how survivors who had to fend for themselves during the war, as my mother did, were isolated anew

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afterward. For unlike concentration camp survivors, who shared common experiences, the children who ran and hid for their lives experienced singular journeys. The places in which they hid and the people they encountered were unknown to the rest of the world and often unidentified even to themselves.

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One observer pointed out that behaviors by my mother that might seem bizarre now — such as packaging and storing little bags of bread — were not strange during strange times. My mother’s unusual rituals regarding food and other aspects of her life may represent her attempt to control a past that she could not control in her childhood and, ironically, does not want to remember now.

But it wasn’t just psychiatrists who shed light on the story of “Prisoner of Her Past.” Also in the audience was the daughter of Vladimir Loukotka, who 70 years ago risked his life to save my mother’s cousin Leon and Leon’s sister, Fanka. When the two orphaned children, Leon

and Fanka, arrived in the tiny farming village of Ozirko, they were barefoot and starving, said Loukotka’s daughter, whose father spoke of them “every day” of his life after the war.

Loukotka died many years ago, and

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his daughter said, “It’s too bad he didn’t live to see this film.” More important, though, Loukotka saw that Leon and Fanka had survived the war, and he knew that

he had made that possible.

Loukotka’s widow, Olga, who also helped hide the children, was unable to come to the screening because she recently was hospitalized with a broken hip. But her two grandsons, strapping men in their 30s, attended with their mother (the Loukotkas’ daughter). As the film played, the family seemed to radiate pride in their grandparents’ heroism, and they stayed practically until the place was empty, soaking up a story that was as much theirs as mine.

As the evening drew to a close, one grandson insisted that I meet 84-year-old Olga at the hospital. So on Saturday evening, he indeed picked me up online cialis australia and drove me

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an hour-and-a-half to Olga’s bedside. She reminisced on how she and Vladimir saved the children.

Why did they risk their sildenafil over the counter lives for Leon and Fanka?

“Because they were children,” said Olga. “With big eyes, crying. That’s all.”

– Howard Reich




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