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#1
Old 07-20-2013, 03:16 PM
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Definition of "holocaust survivor"

It seems to me that there should be a straightforward definition of what a holocaust survivor is/was. Now that the vast majority of that generation is no longer here, the term "son/daugher or grandson/daugher of a holocaust survivor" has started to creep into our lexicon. However, I have a problem with this.

Depending on how you twist it, just about anyone who has European ancestry from the early 20th century to the time of WWII can claim to be a holocaust survivor, even if they were in actuality not in any danger.

For example: in a conversation with a friend, he informed me that his Grandfather was a holocaust survivor, a Jew who fled Russia. Ok, no problem with that, as clearly being jewish in Russia during WWII was no picnic. (Actually, from what I've read, being Jewish in Russia AFTER WWII was no picnic either). So, as the conversation continues, he volunteers that his grandfather went to America in 1925. 1925?!?! His grandfather was NOT a holocaust survivor, he was an immigrant, a Jewish immigrant, but that's it. He may have been going to America for a number of reasons, but escaping Hitler's Germany and the holocaust is not one of them. I don't know why he left Russia. Perhaps he wasn't having a good time being Jewish in Russia in 1925, or perhaps he wanted to go to America for a thousand other reasons, many of which had nothing to do with his being Jewish, but to identify his grandfather as a holocaust survivor, is, IMHO an insult to the real holocaust survivors that did face the grim, real experience of the holocaust.

So, I ask, what makes someone a holocaust survivor?

Here's a working definition of what I think it should encompass - a person who, because of their religious beliefs, nationality, culture, heritage, etc who was persecuted in Hitler's Germany from the period of 1933-1945, and lived to see the end of the war. If someone survived this period of prosecution and was someone on the prosecution target list, they can claim survivor status. (If the dates need to be debated, fine.. Debate. But this is my working definition).

A person who spent time in a concentration camp, obviously, was on the front lines of the holocaust. But that person did not have to be Jewish to attract the attention of the SS, or become declared an "undesirable" by the state. So, you didn't, (IMO) have to be in a concentration camp. You could also have been someone who was hunted down because of your background, but never caught. A Pole who happened to escape Poland in 1940 and make it to the West certainly would be a holocaust survivor, regardless of whether or not he was Jewish.

However, someone who was living in the West, or who had immigrated to the West before the atrocities began does not qualify as a holocaust survivor.

I would say that someone like Einstein, who was in The West at the time and could not return home because of the danger to his life was not a holocaust survivor by definition. He clearly would have been persecuted if he returned home, but he didn't. He didn't live "on the run", and was not hunted down, even though he could have easily been if the Germans wanted to do so.

I think someone like Einstein could have another word associates with their experience, but holocaust survivor seems a stretch, and denigrates those that truly did suffer through the holocaust. I think this type of person should be identified in the definition. However, somehow we must distinguish the difference between his life and the lives of those living daily within the horror of the holocaust.

I am interested in hearing from the dopers on this. First, IS there an accepted definition of "holocaust survivor", and if so, how broad a brush is used? As a point of reference, I had a grandfather who left Poland in 1927. Whether he was Jewish or not is a question the family is currently trying to resolve. However, no one has EVER described him as being a holocaust survivor, including him. And in my opinion, whether he was Jewish or not makes no difference. As a Pole, he was an undesirable, and would have been persecuted in one form or fashion if he had remained in Poland and caught. Calling him a holocaust survivor is an insult to people who actually lived theough and survived it.
#2
Old 07-20-2013, 03:46 PM
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Anyone actually in danger of of harm from the Nazis, and yet was not killed by them is (or was) a Holocaust survivor. Some people may want a stricter definition but that one is suitable for me.
#3
Old 07-20-2013, 04:02 PM
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Russian Jews were fleeing some really bad conditions in the 1920s.
I'd agree that a Holocaust Survivor would be someone like the woman whom my nephew asked at a swimming pool, "Who wrote on your arm?", but the Nazis are not the only ones who brought terror, pain and death to Jews.

Can you imagine having that horror brought back on a sunny morning at the apartment swimming pool by a child?
Wow.
Sorry, I digress.
#4
Old 07-20-2013, 04:13 PM
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At least he ddin't say: Nice tat, granny!

good thing I don't believe in hell or else I'd be going there!

Last edited by John Mace; 07-20-2013 at 04:15 PM.
#5
Old 07-20-2013, 04:17 PM
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Your friend might be using "Holocaust survivor" as a catchall term for the oppression that Jews experienced in eastern and central Europe during the early 1900s.

Just like I might talk about Jim Crow second-class citizenship when talking about my parents, who grew up during the "Jim Crow" era but who lived in Indiana. I'm generalizing temporally. Your friend is generalizing spatially. Both generalizations would be inappropriate in the context of, say, financial restitution. But they can also be useful shorthand as long as folks aren't being too pedantic.
#6
Old 07-20-2013, 04:23 PM
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Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were hanged in Indiana. The song Strange Fruit was written with them in mind.
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Old 07-20-2013, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were hanged in Indiana. The song Strange Fruit was written with them in mind.
Right, but the Jim Crow system was a Southern thing. Indiana was a very racist state, but it wasn't a Jim Crow state.
#8
Old 07-20-2013, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by monstro View Post
Right, but the Jim Crow system was a Southern thing. Indiana was a very racist state, but it wasn't a Jim Crow state.
Ah. I have mistakenly lumped the two together.
#9
Old 07-20-2013, 05:12 PM
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Ultimately, the purpose of language is to communicate information. You can only judge the use of word in a certain way by whether or not it succeeds at communicating the intended information. "Holocaust survivor" means, to probably 99.9% of the US population, someone who lived during Hitler's rule in either Germany or lands that Germany conquered and survived. I would say your friend is using the term in a way that adds more confusion than clarity.

Last edited by John Mace; 07-20-2013 at 05:12 PM.
#10
Old 07-20-2013, 05:21 PM
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I'm okay with "pogrom survivor" (aka roof fiddler) but claiming holocaust survival for someone who left Europe before 1933 is unsupportable.
#11
Old 07-20-2013, 05:33 PM
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Is it possible that this friend was just clueless about history? I find it all too plausible that someone might believe that WWII occurred during the 1920s.
#12
Old 07-20-2013, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Lamia View Post
Is it possible that this friend was just clueless about history? I find it all too plausible that someone might believe that WWII occurred during the 1920s.
My experience is that Jewish folks use the term to refer only to people who escaped Europe from the Nazis.
But I wouldn't mess with the guy over it.
#13
Old 07-20-2013, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
Your friend might be using "Holocaust survivor" as a catchall term for the oppression that Jews experienced in eastern and central Europe during the early 1900s.

Just like I might talk about Jim Crow second-class citizenship when talking about my parents, who grew up during the "Jim Crow" era but who lived in Indiana. I'm generalizing temporally. Your friend is generalizing spatially. Both generalizations would be inappropriate in the context of, say, financial restitution. But they can also be useful shorthand as long as folks aren't being too pedantic.
Quote:
monstro
Right, but the Jim Crow system was a Southern thing. Indiana was a very racist state, but it wasn't a Jim Crow state.
While there is a perception that Jim Crow "was a Southern thing", I don't think that's completely true.

Kansas was not a "Southern state" but let's remember the famous Brown decision banning segregation occurred not in Birmingham, Alabama but in Topeka Kansas.

Indiana had quite a few "sundown towns" and I believe also had other racist laws and institutions that certainly would be classified as Jim Crow if they'd been in the South.

I'm sure you know what "sundown towns" were but for others, they were towns where it was literally illegal to be there if you were black after sundown. The idea being that blacks would go there as servants but quite literally couldn't live there.
#14
Old 07-20-2013, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Anyone actually in danger of of harm from the Nazis, and yet was not killed by them is (or was) a Holocaust survivor. Some people may want a stricter definition but that one is suitable for me.
My grandfather (the one who didn't serve in combat)? If the Nazis had taken over the US, he would have been harmed. I've seen someone use that logic: he was in Connecticut, but the Nazis wanted to kill him, it was only the small matter of not being in power in Connecticut that stopped them.
#15
Old 07-20-2013, 06:38 PM
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The problem is, so many people expand the definition to fit just about everybody who wants to make an argument that they were a HS. In the last thread I recall about it, just about everybody in Europe was a survivor. Dunno if they included England.

Originally Posted by TriPolar
Anyone actually in danger of of harm from the Nazis, and yet was not killed by them is (or was) a Holocaust survivor. Some people may want a stricter definition but that one is suitable for me.

If that is the case, I am a Holocaust Survivor. My mother was in England during the blitz, a dozen years before I was born. Had she been killed, I would never have been born.
#16
Old 07-20-2013, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by handsomeharry View Post
If that is the case, I am a Holocaust Survivor. My mother was in England during the blitz, a dozen years before I was born. Had she been killed, I would never have been born.
You did not exist at the time and thus were not in actual danger. However, I wouldn't see anything wrong with your mother being considered a Holocaust survivor. I understand that's not what people typically mean, but I don't see the need to draw a line between people who experienced different levels of danger when both had reasonable fear for their lives.

Last edited by TriPolar; 07-20-2013 at 06:52 PM.
#17
Old 07-20-2013, 07:14 PM
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I've always thought of a Holocaust survivor as someone who was actually in a concentration camp.
#18
Old 07-20-2013, 07:23 PM
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Well, if Anne Frank had managed to stay in hiding until after the war, I'd have no problem counting her and her relatives.
#19
Old 07-20-2013, 07:29 PM
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Hmmm, good point. Then that would include people who managed to elude the Nazis, I guess, rather than escape. I don't know. (I think that was the case with Roman Polanski)

Last edited by Guinastasia; 07-20-2013 at 07:30 PM.
#20
Old 07-20-2013, 07:36 PM
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One of my uncles was born and raised in the U.S., and was a holocaust survivor. After Pearl Harbor, he enlisted and was deployed in Europe. Somehow the Germans captured him, and when they discovered he was Jewish, sent him to Auschwitz. He remained there until the end of the war, and of course was treated like all the other Jews. I remember, as a kid, seeing the number tattooed on his arm.
#21
Old 07-20-2013, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Anyone actually in danger of of harm from the Nazis, and yet was not killed by them is (or was) a Holocaust survivor. Some people may want a stricter definition but that one is suitable for me.
That is absurd. That would make everyone who lived in Britain at the time, and survived the war, holocaust survivors. That would include my parents, so I am the son of holocaust survivors by that logic. My uncle, who is still alive served in the RAF through WW2, and is Jewish. I am pretty sure he does not think of himself as a holocaust survivor, though.


I would say that a holocaust survivor is someone who was living in Nazi occupied lands at a time when the Nazis were in control there, and belonged to one of those groups, most notably Jews, who the Nazis singled out for elimination. It is not a particularly complicated definition.
#22
Old 07-20-2013, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
You did not exist at the time and thus were not in actual danger. However, I wouldn't see anything wrong with your mother being considered a Holocaust survivor. I understand that's not what people typically mean, but I don't see the need to draw a line between people who experienced different levels of danger when both had reasonable fear for their lives.
Well I do. Millions of people throughout history have survived wars their country was in. The point about the holocaust was that it was not a matter of people being killed in war, but that certain types of people were systematically killed just for being who they were.

As far as mass killing as part of the conduct of warfare as such goes, the British and American bombing campaigns on Germany and Japan probably killed more people than the Nazis did. Does that make them worse than the holocaust (and thereby the British and Americans worse than the Nazis)? I don't think so.
#23
Old 07-20-2013, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
As far as mass killing as part of the conduct of warfare as such goes, the British and American bombing campaigns on Germany and Japan probably killed more people than the Nazis did. Does that make them worse than the holocaust (and thereby the British and Americans worse than the Nazis)? I don't think so.
Nope. You are forgetting how many civilians were killed in the USSR. But even if we ignore that, fewer German and Japanese civilians dies than the 7M+ killed as part of the Holocaust.
#24
Old 07-21-2013, 03:09 AM
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There are also people who claim to be traumatized because they are reincarnation of holocaust survivors, or who claim survivorship by proxy through parents, grandparents, uncles or friends of friends or whatever. I consider anybody who says they’re holocaust survivor but not actually themselves from a concentration camp to be frauds.
#25
Old 07-21-2013, 03:52 AM
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I think one can hardly survive (vive came from the french word vivre, "to live", sur- = to be above something), if one isn't alive, or at least in existence, prior to the event in question.

To survive an event, you actually have to live THROUGH the event, having one's ancester living through it shouldn't count, neither is living far away from it.

But on the other hand, language is a ever mutating thing, its definition change with time, and varies from sub-group to sub-group. If sufficient amount of folks take up a new meaning for it as, say, any folks who was in the nazi concentration camp instead of just the jews (homosexuals, political prisoners, gypse, etc), among these folks, holocaust survivors would be understood as more than just the jews who were at one point in Nazi concentration camp.

Last edited by chris3g; 07-21-2013 at 03:53 AM.
#26
Old 07-21-2013, 04:41 AM
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I guess i'd go for the strictest definition - if you weren't in the camps or other confined areas (like, say, the Warsaw Ghetto) (or actually just rounded up in your own village to be shot), then you're not a Holocaust survivor, you're a Holocaust...avoider? dodger? No, we need a word with a positive connotation here: escapee? refugee? In order to be a survivor, to me, you need to first have been taken into the machinery of death, and come out the other side. Avoiding the machine altogether isn't quite the same thing, to me. So for example, Anne Frank, had she remained in hiding until the end, would have escaped the Holocaust. Primo Levi, on the other hand, survived it.
#27
Old 07-21-2013, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
So for example, Anne Frank, had she remained in hiding until the end, would have escaped the Holocaust. Primo Levi, on the other hand, survived it.
"I'm a Holocaust escapee".

This doesn't communicate anything to me, sorry. It could describe someone bunkered down in an attic for years, living in constant fear. Or it could describe someone who, as soon as the Brownshirts started goose-stepping down their street, packed up their stuff and jumped on the first thing steaming.

I would have absolutely no problem calling someone like Anne Frank (prior to being captured) a Holocaust survivor. The Holocaust wasn't just the concentration camps.
#28
Old 07-21-2013, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by monstro View Post
"I'm a Holocaust escapee".

This doesn't communicate anything to me, sorry. It could describe someone bunkered down in an attic for years, living in constant fear. Or it could describe someone who, as soon as the Brownshirts started goose-stepping down their street, packed up their stuff and jumped on the first thing steaming.
As such, it's no different that how, using your definition of "survivor", we have no way of distinguishing between hiding in an attic and living through a Todeslager.
Quote:

I would have absolutely no problem calling someone like Anne Frank (prior to being captured) a Holocaust survivor. The Holocaust wasn't just the concentration camps.
Which is why I cited Warsaw and the Einsatzgruppen.
#29
Old 07-21-2013, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Stink Fish Pot View Post
It seems to me that there should be a straightforward definition of what a holocaust survivor is/was. Now that the vast majority of that generation is no longer here, the term "son/daugher or grandson/daugher of a holocaust survivor" has started to creep into our lexicon. However, I have a problem with this.
Yeah, it burns me up too.
#30
Old 07-21-2013, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
As such, it's no different that how, using your definition of "survivor", we have no way of distinguishing between hiding in an attic and living through a Todeslager.
Sure there is. You can simply ask the person using the term to provide context, if you are that curious.

Then you can decide if the term is an exaggeration, fraudalent, or accurate.

If you chatted up someone who had a experience similar to Anne Frank's and they called themselves a Holocaust survivor, would you correct them? If they wrote an essay in the paper called "I am a Holocaust Survivor", would you write a letter to the editor expressing your opinion that the title was incorrect?

I guess I can't get hung up on details like this. For every person who misuses a label for personal benefit, there's another person who wants to play the semantic pedantic role to needlessly downplay the seriousness of someone's experiences. I guess I'd rather risk some of the former than give in to the latter.
#31
Old 07-21-2013, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
If you chatted up someone who had a experience similar to Anne Frank's and they called themselves a Holocaust survivor, would you correct them? If they wrote an essay in the paper called "I am a Holocaust Survivor", would you write a letter to the editor expressing your opinion that the title was incorrect?
This is why I don't want to draw any lines. I've seen too much of this. Being a Holocaust survivor isn't some kind of award. It doesn't warrant a mark of honor per se, some survived by their own efforts, some by nothing but luck, and some in ways that shouldn't be mentioned.

I agree that there are people who claim to be Holocaust survivors who are frauds, who were never really in peril. But I still don't find any need to question the particulars of any one person who could have been killed and wasn't. It serves no purpose.
#32
Old 07-21-2013, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by monstro View Post
Sure there is. You can simply ask the person using the term to provide context, if you are that curious.
The exact same argument holds with an "escapee"
Quote:
If you chatted up someone who had a experience similar to Anne Frank's and they called themselves a Holocaust survivor, would you correct them? If they wrote an essay in the paper called "I am a Holocaust Survivor", would you write a letter to the editor expressing your opinion that the title was incorrect?
No, but more because I don't generally confront people or write letters over trivial stuff.

But I would think "Naah, you didn't really survive as much as you dodged a bullet" - it's the difference between being shot in the chest and surviving, versus being (unsuccessfully) shot at.
Quote:

I guess I can't get hung up on details like this.
Oh, in real life it wouldn't matter to me much, I don't really meet many Holocaust survivors - but perhaps I should explain why the pedant in me is stirred: In South Africa, there are lots of people who call themselves "struggle veterans" when all they did was live through Apartheid, they never played any active role in fighting it. That kind of gets my goat.

Similarly, I think the term for all the people who actually were attacked in the Holocaust should distinguish that from those people who were lucky enough not to be.

Of course, even more preferable would be specifics like "camp survivor" or "Ghetto survivor" or "somehow survived the bullet when my whole village was shot" or "Hopped on a boat to NY in '33", and I agree with you that our hypothetical Uncaught Anne Frank is much closer to the first three than the last and it's better to err on inclusiveness on that point.

So I wouldn't quibble too much that, say, all people in active hiding are also survivors. but it's not my first instinct to include them.
#33
Old 07-21-2013, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Oh, in real life it wouldn't matter to me much, I don't really meet many Holocaust survivors - but perhaps I should explain why the pedant in me is stirred: In South Africa, there are lots of people who call themselves "struggle veterans" when all they did was live through Apartheid, they never played any active role in fighting it. That kind of gets my goat.
If someone was a kid who lived under Jim Crow or Jim Crow-like policies here in the US, and they saw relatives lynched for trying to vote, attended segregated schools, and dealt with racial harrassment on a daily basis, I would have no problem saying they "survived" Jim Crow. Because literally--if we must be pedants--they did.

If they were trying to get a NAACP award for fighting for civil rights, that's one thing. But if they were just talking about their life, I'd have no problem with them using the a turn of phrase that fits well enough for me to understand what they're talking about. If I doubted them, I'd just ask for context and then (inwardly) judge for myself if they're fraudsters.

No one says "Jim Crow survivor" though.
#34
Old 07-21-2013, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by monstro View Post
If someone was a kid who lived under Jim Crow or Jim Crow-like policies here in the US, and they saw relatives lynched for trying to vote, attended segregated schools, and dealt with racial harrassment on a daily basis, I would have no problem saying they "survived" Jim Crow. Because literally--if we must be pedants--they did.
Understand that there's a difference between "survived apartheid" and "struggle veteran" - the struggle wasn't a passive thing. It'd be like your Jim Crow survivor calling themselves a "Civil rights activist" just for being there.

Now, to me, the Holocaust doesn't just mean "the conditions active in German-occupied territories", like Apartheid and Jim Crow. It means those actions actively wrought by the Germans and their allies in order to kill Jews and other undesirables. It's harder to make precise comparisons because the US situation wasn't a unified organised program, but e.g. "I'm a Rosewood survivor" would come closer to what I'd expect "I'm a Holocaust survivor" to convey. IMO, of course

Last edited by MrDibble; 07-21-2013 at 11:22 AM.
#35
Old 07-21-2013, 02:12 PM
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I wanted to address some of the replies:

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Originally Posted by Lamia View Post
Is it possible that this friend was just clueless about history? I find it all too plausible that someone might believe that WWII occurred during the 1920s.
Absolutely not. He's an intelligent person who knows when WWII occurred. I didn't ask him directly, but I have no doubt in my mind that he knew that his grandfather was not escaping Nazis. I will, if the moment is right, ask him some more pointed questions the next time I see him in person. However my initial conversation was non-confrontational and I let it go. There is a time and place for most things, and if he truly believes this (my feeling is he does), he could be emotionally invested in this. I will address this at a more appropriate time. And it will be a conversation, not confrontation.

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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
I'm okay with "pogrom survivor" (aka roof fiddler) but claiming holocaust survival for someone who left Europe before 1933 is unsupportable.
Agreed.

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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
My experience is that Jewish folks use the term to refer only to people who escaped Europe from the Nazis.
But I wouldn't mess with the guy over it.
Is it your experience that Jewish folks use the term to refer to all people who escaped Europe from the Nazis or just Jewish people?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Anyone actually in danger of of harm from the Nazis, and yet was not killed by them is (or was) a Holocaust survivor. Some people may want a stricter definition but that one is suitable for me.
.

That's your opinion and you are entitled to it. However, I personally feel a tighter definition should be adhered to, to honor and remember those people (Jews and non-Jews) who actually survived the holocaust.

Quote:
Originally Posted by handsomeharry View Post
The problem is, so many people expand the definition to fit just about everybody who wants to make an argument that they were a HS. In the last thread I recall about it, just about everybody in Europe was a survivor. Dunno if they included England.

This is where I am coming from. I can see how the definition could be stretched to encompass just about anyone in Europe during the Nazi's reign. But should it? I personally don't think so.

Originally Posted by TriPolar
Anyone actually in danger of of harm from the Nazis, and yet was not killed by them is (or was) a Holocaust survivor. Some people may want a stricter definition but that one is suitable for me.

If that is the case, I am a Holocaust Survivor. My mother was in England during the blitz, a dozen years before I was born. Had she been killed, I would never have been born.
This is an interesting stretch of reasoning. Depending on who you spoke to, I guess this could be considered legitimate, although I'm guessing you yourself wouldn't.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Well, if Anne Frank had managed to stay in hiding until after the war, I'd have no problem counting her and her relatives.
.

I tend to agree with this in principle, but I think it must be taken on a case by case basis. For example, the Polish-Jew (Wladyslaw Szpilman) depicted in the movie "The Pianist", in my eyes, was a HS. He was hiding or on the run the entire time he was outside the Warsaw ghetto. He was never out of danger, was close to starvation, and lived like an animal just to stay alive. Just because he didn't have the experience of a concentration camp does not diminish what he personally went through. As I understand it, Anne Frank and family did not live as badly as Szpilman, however they remained in hiding in a very small space for a extended period of time. If they had lived, I think you could say they survived the Holocaust.

However, someone who was not in imminent danger, even if they were a member of one of the groups chosen for persecution, did not survive the Holocaust. They survived WWII; something millions of other people had. In my mind, you just can't compare the experiences. If, for example, a Jewish person was able to live undetected in Nazi Europe, and was able to live and sleep like other non-Jews, I cannot see that person as a HS. WWII survivor, yes.

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Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
One of my uncles was born and raised in the U.S., and was a holocaust survivor. After Pearl Harbor, he enlisted and was deployed in Europe. Somehow the Germans captured him, and when they discovered he was Jewish, sent him to Auschwitz. He remained there until the end of the war, and of course was treated like all the other Jews. I remember, as a kid, seeing the number tattooed on his arm.
No argument. In fact, I wouldn't think ANYONE would or could question your uncle's experience. Especially since he had a special, numbered tattoo on his arm thanks to the Nazis.

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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
That is absurd. That would make everyone who lived in Britain at the time, and survived the war, holocaust survivors. That would include my parents, so I am the son of holocaust survivors by that logic. My uncle, who is still alive served in the RAF through WW2, and is Jewish. I am pretty sure he does not think of himself as a holocaust survivor, though.


I would say that a holocaust survivor is someone who was living in Nazi occupied lands at a time when the Nazis were in control there, and belonged to one of those groups, most notably Jews, who the Nazis singled out for elimination. It is not a particularly complicated definition.
I agree with your statement and agree thst it is not and should not be a complicated definition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
I guess i'd go for the strictest definition - if you weren't in the camps or other confined areas (like, say, the Warsaw Ghetto) (or actually just rounded up in your own village to be shot), then you're not a Holocaust survivor, you're a Holocaust...avoider? dodger? No, we need a word with a positive connotation here: escapee? refugee? In order to be a survivor, to me, you need to first have been taken into the machinery of death, and come out the other side. Avoiding the machine altogether isn't quite the same thing, to me. So for example, Anne Frank, had she remained in hiding until the end, would have escaped the Holocaust. Primo Levi, on the other hand, survived it.
As mentioned above, I think cases like Anne Frank's should be taken on a case by case basis. I don't know how difficult it was to live like Anne Frank and her family. Clearly it was stressful, but I'm guessing it was a picnic compared to those in a concentration camp. Still, the emotional stress of being "hunted" and in fear for your life if someone heard you make a sound at the wrong moment has its own set of difficulties, and I wouldn't dismiss their experience out of hand until I learned more about it. Clearly they "escaped" the Holocaust. But I think an argument could be made that they "survived" it also. My example of Szpilman is a clear case of survival. Depending on how much help someone hiding out received, if they were in imminent danger of being discovered vs. not being discovered, etc.... Makes it not such a cut and dry situation. Einstein, as I mentioned before, lived out the war years abroad, and he wasn't living in a stressful environment. He is/was a WWII survivor, not a HS (IMO, of course).

Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
If someone was a kid who lived under Jim Crow or Jim Crow-like policies here in the US, and they saw relatives lynched for trying to vote, attended segregated schools, and dealt with racial harrassment on a daily basis, I would have no problem saying they "survived" Jim Crow. Because literally--if we must be pedants--they did.

If they were trying to get a NAACP award for fighting for civil rights, that's one thing. But if they were just talking about their life, I'd have no problem with them using the a turn of phrase that fits well enough for me to understand what they're talking about. If I doubted them, I'd just ask for context and then (inwardly) judge for myself if they're fraudsters.

No one says "Jim Crow survivor" though.
I'm not sure if the Jim Crow experiences can be used as an example to better understand the situation of those subjected to extermination by the state. If it helps clarify something for folks, fine, but I think it confuses the issue... The fundamental premise is different. Jim Crow laws were not Federal, but US state laws, meant to oppressed colored people in America, and in particular the American south. But Jim Crow was NOT an organized program at the federal level to eliminate an entire race of people. Although many blacks were lynched and otherwise killed, they were not rounded up by the hundreds of thousands for extermination. This is a significant difference.
#36
Old 07-21-2013, 02:50 PM
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My grandmother, who was a very talented artist (and still is, though she's in her 90s now) managed to alter the documentation of her and her German Jewish family, and they escaped in 1939 through Europe, ending up in Canada sometime in 1940. Many of her extended family did not make it out. Oddly enough, I've never thought of my grandmother as a Holocaust survivor- they certainly escaped by the skin of their teeth, and had to live "low" for a while as they escaped through Europe, but they were never actually in the custody of Nazis.

Perhaps she is. Thinking back on family lore (my great-grandfather, a great storyteller, claimed that he had sixteen "escapes" from Nazi capture throughout Europe, including coming face-to-face with Adolph Hitler) they probably all fit the definition.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 07-21-2013 at 02:53 PM.
#37
Old 07-21-2013, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StinkFishPot
Is it your experience that Jewish folks use the term to refer to all people who escaped Europe from the Nazis or just Jewish people?
Being Jewish, we were usually speaking about Jews. I've never heard of now Jews who escaped not being eligible for the term.
Perhaps the woman my nephew spoke to was a Gypsy.
#38
Old 07-21-2013, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stink Fish Pot View Post
That's your opinion and you are entitled to it. However, I personally feel a tighter definition should be adhered to, to honor and remember those people (Jews and non-Jews) who actually survived the holocaust.
I understand. It is my personal feeling that drawing comparisons between tragedies does not serve that purpose. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but I do so to honor the dead who suffered as a result of the imaginary lines drawn between people.
#39
Old 07-21-2013, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinastasia View Post
I've always thought of a Holocaust survivor as someone who was actually in a concentration camp.
Same here. Just always assumed that was what people meant with the term.
#40
Old 07-23-2013, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune View Post
or who claim survivorship by proxy through parents, grandparents, uncles or friends of friends or whatever. .
However, children of genocide survivors in general (not especially the Holocaust) are known to sometimes face specific psycologic/psychiatric issues, especially when the parent(s) were unwilling to communicate about their experience.



(By the way, I had a much stricter definition of "Holocaust survivor". I wouldn't have included people who hide and never were arrested, for instance)

Last edited by clairobscur; 07-23-2013 at 04:52 PM.
#41
Old 07-23-2013, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by monstro View Post
I would have absolutely no problem calling someone like Anne Frank (prior to being captured) a Holocaust survivor. The Holocaust wasn't just the concentration camps.
Maybe, but having been in a camp is a completely different thing.
#42
Old 07-23-2013, 05:08 PM
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My mother was in Bergen-Belsen. My father was in hiding in the Budapest ghetto. I have always considered both of them Holocaust survivors, but obviously their experiences were different.
#43
Old 07-23-2013, 05:12 PM
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It's fairly simple, and the 'controversy' here is baffling. If you survived the concentration/death camps, you are a concentration/death camp survivor. If you were a group targeted by the Nazis for extermination, and in a zone in which the Nazis had control and/or were rounding up members of your group, you're a holocaust survivor. (So, no, Brits don't count )

This is so absurdly simple.
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#44
Old 07-23-2013, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by suranyi View Post
My mother was in Bergen-Belsen. My father was in hiding in the Budapest ghetto. I have always considered both of them Holocaust survivors, but obviously their experiences were different.
Had they met before the Shoah?
#45
Old 07-23-2013, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
Had they met before the Shoah?
No, they were children at the time of Holocaust. (Well, my dad was a young teenager.) They met quite a few years later. In a refugee camp in Austria in 1956, after the Hungarian uprising against the Communists.
#46
Old 07-23-2013, 07:20 PM
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Thanks, suranyi.
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:43 PM
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Estimates of the number of remaining survivors vary greatly and depend in part on how one defines a survivor. The Museum honors as survivors any persons, Jewish or non-Jewish, who were displaced, persecuted, or discriminated against due to the racial, religious, ethnic, and political policies of the Nazis and their allies between 1933 and 1945. In addition to former inmates of concentration camps, ghettos, and prisons, this definition includes, among others, people who were refugees or were in hiding.

http://ushmm.org/remembrance/registry/faq/

This seems reasonable to me; I don't see why "holocaust survivor" should be limited to those who were actually incarcerated in the camps.

I understand there is considerable controversy as to how many Holocaust survivors there are today--not just because of definitions but because some stats don't include people in certain areas, e.g. North Africa.

I don't think the comment by the man whose grandfather came to the US in 1925 was an insult, rather just someone confused about what the term "Holocaust" means as commonly used. I have--amazingly to me--met quite a few people who do not know this.
#48
Old 07-23-2013, 09:05 PM
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Huck,
Very good, Sir.
#49
Old 07-24-2013, 12:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Anyone actually in danger of of harm from the Nazis, and yet was not killed by them is (or was) a Holocaust survivor. Some people may want a stricter definition but that one is suitable for me.
Any non-Jewish American WWII vet is/was a "holocaust survivor"? I never understood the term to be that broad. I don't have Jewish ancestry and both of my grandfathers served in WWII.

If I am accused of antisemitism, can I declare indignantly that I am descended from TWO holocaust survivors?

It seems to strain the meaning of the word if additional clarification is required.
#50
Old 07-24-2013, 01:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huck View Post
The Museum honors as survivors any persons, Jewish or non-Jewish, who were displaced, persecuted, or discriminated against due to the racial, religious, ethnic, and political policies of the Nazis and their allies between 1933 and 1945. In addition to former inmates of concentration camps, ghettos, and prisons, this definition includes, among others, people who were refugees or were in hiding.



This seems reasonable to me; I don't see why "holocaust survivor" should be limited to those who were actually incarcerated in the camps.
Because they, you know, actually survived the camps. The others escaped the holocaust.
Not to say the escapees didn't suffer, certainly those in hiding, but it certainly is different from actually having been to a camp.
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