Child Survivors: "the factors which have influenced their lives and achievements"

Panel Discussion

Approximately 60 people attended our panel discussion on 21st April "Child Survivors: the factors which have influenced their lives and achievements." The panel comprised physiotherapist Mrs. Gaby Eisen, Supreme Court Judge Mr. Justice Hampel and psychiatrist Dr. Paul Valent.

Mrs. Gaby Eisen and Mr. Justice George Hampel both are Polish born spent the war years in Russia, with quite positive memories of the Russians. Dr. Valent had far more traumatic recollections of his time in Budapest, Hungary living as an Aryan.

Mrs. Eisen returned with her family to Poland after the war where she witnessed Pogroms. The family moved to Switzerland and eventually emigrated to Australia. She always felt that she did not "fit-in" and to a degree felt like a "Guest" until at the age of 16 she discovered a Jewish youth movement and at that point her feelings about her Judaism crystallized.

Mr. Justice George Hampel, the son of assimilated professional Polish Jews also found himself with his family put on a long train ride to Russia. He did not experience fear in Russia because he was surrounded by a loving family. In Russia he never experienced anti-semitism, however he was at the receiving end of some school bullying. He felt probably because initially he was not familiar with the Russian language. Young George proved to be a bit of a "larrikin" stealing food from the fields and becoming involved in several fights. After the war the Hampels moved to France awaiting their entry into Australia. Mr. Justice Hampel found it difficult to think of the negative effects of his wartime experiences, for example due to the frequent uprooting he learnt several new languages.

Dr. Paul Valent vividly remembers being hungry during the war, but not the actual feeling of hunger. Since the age of 9 he has felt the urge to write about the Holocaust which he continues to do to this day. Dr. Valent stressed that if one is not concerned about the suffering in the past one cannot understand the present and therefore a successful progression into the future cannot be achieved.

We would like to thank all three panelists for participating in this extremely interesting evening. (If you missed the talk get the cassette!).

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