chapter  5
21 Pages

Family Reconstruction in Germany: An Attempt to Confront the Past

After many years educating and training social workers, with an emphasis on family counseling, I would like to offer the following experiences for discussion. In the context of training seminars, participants worked on their own families of origin. In these seminars we sought-using "family reconstruction" as originally developed and led by Virginia Satir,l-to see and to experience in a new way hidden family structures, family patterns, and emotional blockages. In the course of this work we oftentimes got to know families in which participants had to deal with the active involvement of their parents and grandparents in the Nazi regime. Out of the multiplicity of family histories known to us in this way, I have chosen three family profiles in which it becomes clear, in my opinion, what the suspension of the dialogue between the generations has meant, in terms of family life and individual development, for the children and grandchildren of the perpetrators, and of the supposed perpetrators,

74 Family Reconstruction in Germany

of the Nazi regime. I have led seminars using family reconstruction with various foreign as well as German coleaders. The first experiences I had were with colleagues from the United States, the Netherlands, and Switzerland who had had experience working with the survivors of the Holocaust and who helped and encouraged us to deal with the problems of German families.