The Atrocities Of War Drove Them To Insanity – Holocaust Survivors Between Illusion & Reality

 

Photojournalist Gili Yaari is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  From his project ‘Sixty Five Years Later – Mental Health Center For Holocaust Survivors‘.  To see Gili’s body of work click on any image.

 

Romanian-born Holocaust survivor Ruthy Silberberg, 80.

 

Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor Arieh Bleier.  Bleier survived the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria. His parents and brother were murdered in Auschwitz.

 

Holocaust survivor Meir Moskowitz, 82.  Moskowitz experienced pogroms in Romania and had long days inside a cattle car.

 

Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel, managed by the Israeli Association for Public Health, is a home for 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. Sixty Five years after the end of WWII, they are still living the horror.

 

Holocaust survivor Yulia Wodna, 80, plays wit ha cat. Yugoslavian-born Wodna lived long days in forests with her parents who were Partisans. As a young girl she witnessed mass murders of Jewish people, including some of her relatives.

 

Bulgarian born holocaust survivor Yakov Assa.

 

Holocaust survivor Meir Moskowitz, 82.

 

Most of the patients at Shaar Menashe, never established a family and throughout the years, they moved from one mental institution to another. For decades they lived at the edge of Israeli society without any capability of living a normal life. Because of their age, many of them need nursing treatment. They live the horror and inferno as if it happened yesterday, hearing voices, suffering from nightmares, confusing illusions and reality. They spend most of the day staring into the distance, hardly speaking and sometimes mumbling while sucking a single cigarette every hour. 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. They did survive but their lives actually stopped, 65 years ago, living the memories of their life as they were before the Second World War, combined with illusions and nightmares, traveling between illusions and reality.

 

A Holocaust survivor pushing another through the halls.

 

Holocaust survivors sitting in a hall.

 

A Holocaust survivor carries food plates in the dining room.

 

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.

 

These photographs were taken in the Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust Survivors, Pardes Hanna, Israel, 2010

 

See also:

Purim Celebrations In Jerusalem

By Gili Yaari

 


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