Witnessing comes in as many forms as the trauma that gives birth to it. The Holocaust, undeniably one of the greatest traumatic events in recent human history, still resonates into the twenty-first century. The echoes that haunt those who survived continue to reach their children and others who did not share the experience directly. In what ways is this massive trauma processed and understood, both for survivors and future generations?

The answer, as deftly illustrated by Nancy Goodman and Marilyn Meyers, lies in the power of witnessing: the act of acknowledging that trauma took place, coupled with the desire to share that knowledge with others to build a space in which to reveal, confront, and symbolize it. As the contributors to this book demonstrate, testimonial writing and memoir, artwork, poetry, documentary, theater, and even the simple recollection of a memory are ways that honor and serve as forms of witnessing. Each chapter is a fusion of narrative and metaphor that exists as evidence of the living mind that emerges amid the dead spaces produced by mass trauma, creating a revelatory, transformational space for the terror of knowing and the possibility for affirmation of hope, courage, and endurance in the face of almost unspeakable evil. Additionally, the power of witnessing is extended from the Holocaust to contemporary instances of mass trauma and to psychoanalytic treatments, proving its efficacy in the dyadic relationship of everyday practice for both patient and analyst.

The Holocaust is not an easy subject to approach, but the intimate and personal stories included here add up to an act of witnessing in and of itself, combining the past and the present and placing the trauma in the realm of knowing, sharing, and understanding.

Contributors: Harriet Basseches, Elsa Blum, Bridget Conley-Zilkic, Paula Ellman, Susan Elmendorf, George Halasz, Geoffrey Hartman, Renee Hartman, Elaine Neumann Kulp-Shabad, Dori Laub, Clemens Loew, Gail Humphries Mardirosian, Margit Meissner, Henri Parens, Arlene Kramer Richards, Arnold Richards, Sophia Richman, Katalin Roth, Nina Shapiro-Perl, Myra Sklarew, Ervin Staub.

part I|56 pages

A Triptych of the Power of Witnessing

chapter 1|24 pages

The Power of Witnessing

ByNancy R. Goodman

chapter 2|17 pages

Historic and Psychic Timeline

Opening and Closing the Space for Witnessing
ByMarilyn B. Meyers

chapter 3|12 pages

The “Anti-Train”

A Metaphor for Witnessing
ByNancy R. Goodman

part II|62 pages


chapter 4|21 pages

Testimony as Life Experience and Legacy

ByDori Laub

chapter 5|5 pages

A Note on the Testimony Event

ByGeoffrey Hartman

chapter 6|17 pages

A Holocaust Survivor's Bearing Witness

ByHenri Parens

chapter 7|14 pages

“Too Young to Remember”

Recovering and Integrating the Unacknowledged Known
BySophia Richman

part III|95 pages


chapter 8|24 pages

Leiser's Song

ByMyra Sklarew

chapter 9|13 pages

Psychological Witnessing of My Mother's Holocaust Testimony

ByGeorge Halasz

chapter 10|8 pages

Bergen-Belsen 2009

ByRenée Hartman

chapter 11|12 pages


A Memoir of my Father
ByKatalin Roth

chapter 12|12 pages

The Power of Memorable Moments

ByMargit Meissner

chapter 13|13 pages

The Defiant Requiem

Acts of Witnessing
ByMarilyn B. Meyers

chapter 14|3 pages

One Thousand Days in Auschwitz

Joseph Neumann and the will to Live
ByElaine Neuman Kulp Shabad

chapter 15|2 pages

My Lost Father

ByClemens Loew

chapter 16|3 pages

The Shadow of Shira

ByMarilyn B. Meyers

part IV|71 pages


chapter 17|18 pages

Blood Reading the Holocaust

ByArlene Kramer Richards

chapter 18|4 pages

Through the Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz

Witnessing the Witness Through Filmmaking
ByNina Shapiro-Perl

chapter 21|11 pages

Giving Voice to the Silenced Through Theater Gail Humphries Mardirosian

ByGail Humphries Mardirosian

chapter 22|19 pages

Witnessing the Death of Yiddish Language and Culture

Holes in the Doorposts
ByArnold Richards

part V|62 pages


chapter 23|15 pages

Trauma, Therapy, and Witnessing

ByMarilyn B. Meyers

chapter 24|14 pages

“We're in this Too”

The Effects of 9/11 on Transference, Countertransference, and Technique
ByNancy R. Goodman, Harriet I. Basseches, Paula L. Ellman, Susan S. Elmendorf

chapter 25|14 pages

What Do You Want? On Witnessing Genocide Today

ByBridget Conley-Zilkic

chapter 26|16 pages

Bystandership—One Can Make a Difference

Interview with Ervin Staub
ByNancy R. Goodman, Marilyn B. Meyers