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Sixty Five Years Later - Mental Health Center for Holocaust Survivors

Gili Yaari | Israel

Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor Arieh Bleier in Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel on Oct 20, 2010. Bleier survived the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in austria. His parents and brother were murdered in Auschwitz.

Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel, is a home for about 70 Holocaust survivors. Most of them, who were children during the Holocaust, lost many or all of their family members. Along the years they emigrated to Israel, tried to integrate into the Israeli society and build their new lives but they were driven insane by their childhood experiences, and instead, they ended up in mental institutions.

The number of Holocaust survivors at Shahar Menashe mental hospital declines each year. Each one of them carries his life story and is a living testimony of the horrors he has experienced. There are estimated 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today. It is estimated that about 10 percent of them need mental treatment. Most of them don't get it. The story of the Holocaust survivors at Shaar Menashe mental hospital is the story of many other Holocaust survivors. Even those who managed to integrate into society and build new lives carry deep mental scars which can never be healed.

 As a second generation Holocaust survivor, I grew up in a what I used to think of as a “normal” house. My parents managed to raise a family, worked for their living and integrated into society. Their parents lost most of their families in the Holocaust. As many Israelis, I understood only when I grew up that I was actually raised in a house where there was no happiness, where joy was illegitimate, where the driving forces were fear and survival. During the work on this project I felt again and again as if I was documenting my own family knowing that all that separates between them and this place is that thin fragile border line between sanity and insanity.

Gili Yaari

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