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As firsthand survivors of many of 20th century's most monumental events--the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the Vietnam War--begin to pass away, Survivor Cafe addresses urgent questions: How do we carry those stories forward? How do we collectively ensure that the horrors of the past are not forgotten? In this wide-ranging book, Elizabeth Rosner discusses the intergenerational As firsthand survivors of many of 20th century's most monumental events--the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the Vietnam War--begin to pass away, Survivor Cafe addresses urgent questions: How do we carry those stories forward? How do we collectively ensure that the horrors of the past are not forgotten? In this wide-ranging book, Elizabeth Rosner discusses the intergenerational inheritance of trauma, as well as the intricacies of memory and remembrance in the aftermath of genocide and atrocity. Through a series of interconnected pieces, Survivor Cafe becomes a lens for numerous constructs of memorialization--from Holocaust museums and commemorative sites to educational methodology, from national reconciliation projects to individual cross-cultural encounters. With her own personal experience as a daughter of two Holocaust survivors, Rosner describes a series of trips to Germany with her father, re-visiting the site of his imprisonment in Buchenwald concentration camp. She extends this exploration to consider echoes of similar legacies among descendants of African American slaves; descendants of Cambodian survivors of the Killing Fields; descendants of survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the effects of 9/11 on the general population, and others. In a thoughtful examination of language (and its limits), as well as current brain research involving the mechanisms of memory, Rosner depicts a variety of efforts to create a map of human tragedy and transcendence. Beyond preserving the firsthand testimonies of participants and witnesses, individuals and societies must also continually take responsibility for learning the painful lessons of the past in order to offer hope for the future. Survivor Cafe offers a clear-eyed sense of the enormity of our 21st century human inheritance--not only among direct descendants of the Holocaust but also in the shape of our collective responsibility to learn from tragedy, and to keep the ever-changing conversations alive between the past and the present.


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As firsthand survivors of many of 20th century's most monumental events--the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the Vietnam War--begin to pass away, Survivor Cafe addresses urgent questions: How do we carry those stories forward? How do we collectively ensure that the horrors of the past are not forgotten? In this wide-ranging book, Elizabeth Rosner discusses the intergenerational As firsthand survivors of many of 20th century's most monumental events--the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the Vietnam War--begin to pass away, Survivor Cafe addresses urgent questions: How do we carry those stories forward? How do we collectively ensure that the horrors of the past are not forgotten? In this wide-ranging book, Elizabeth Rosner discusses the intergenerational inheritance of trauma, as well as the intricacies of memory and remembrance in the aftermath of genocide and atrocity. Through a series of interconnected pieces, Survivor Cafe becomes a lens for numerous constructs of memorialization--from Holocaust museums and commemorative sites to educational methodology, from national reconciliation projects to individual cross-cultural encounters. With her own personal experience as a daughter of two Holocaust survivors, Rosner describes a series of trips to Germany with her father, re-visiting the site of his imprisonment in Buchenwald concentration camp. She extends this exploration to consider echoes of similar legacies among descendants of African American slaves; descendants of Cambodian survivors of the Killing Fields; descendants of survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the effects of 9/11 on the general population, and others. In a thoughtful examination of language (and its limits), as well as current brain research involving the mechanisms of memory, Rosner depicts a variety of efforts to create a map of human tragedy and transcendence. Beyond preserving the firsthand testimonies of participants and witnesses, individuals and societies must also continually take responsibility for learning the painful lessons of the past in order to offer hope for the future. Survivor Cafe offers a clear-eyed sense of the enormity of our 21st century human inheritance--not only among direct descendants of the Holocaust but also in the shape of our collective responsibility to learn from tragedy, and to keep the ever-changing conversations alive between the past and the present.

30 review for Survivor Cafe: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    UPDATE: I just noticed that this book is a $3.99 Kindle special right now -- I just bought it myself --and I've listened to the audiobook. I actually wish to own a physical copy. I highly recommend reading this story. The price is about the same as a Coffe-Latte. The experience will last much longer...and you'll still get a morning jolt! Audiobook..... narrated by the author, Elizabeth Rosner This is a deeply moving book... and Elizabeth - as author and reader is remarkable! In the beginning Eliz UPDATE: I just noticed that this book is a $3.99 Kindle special right now -- I just bought it myself --and I've listened to the audiobook. I actually wish to own a physical copy. I highly recommend reading this story. The price is about the same as a Coffe-Latte. The experience will last much longer...and you'll still get a morning jolt! Audiobook..... narrated by the author, Elizabeth Rosner This is a deeply moving book... and Elizabeth - as author and reader is remarkable! In the beginning Elizabeth says, “it’s not an exaggeration to say that I have been writing this book all my life, noting that, it’s what my own life depends on, it’s where my cells have led me since the beginning, since words were forming in my mouth, and even before words, before anything”. Elizabeth did a lot of research for this book. I read an article about the research she did about the multigenerational aftermath in Japan...which drove Elizabeth to do more science research about evidence in intergenerational trauma.....actually being passed down from the mother’s womb. In other words the children of a Holocaust parents inherit more than their parents stories. They actually inherit the emotions of the trauma. —- That’s just one part of this book. Before chapter 1 even begins - Elizabeth does something so chilling .....I admit - I was 1-impressed by what she did and 2- getting creeped out! You have to hear this to understand what I’m talking about .... She created what she calls “The Alphabet of Inadequate Language”. SHE DOESN’T MISS A BEAT! Elizabeth took three different trips to Buchenwald with her father where he was imprisoned. — Each time visiting “The Survivor Cafe”. When they were there in 1995 for the 50th anniversary - her dad didn’t need a cane or wheel chair....but twenty years later when they returned for the 70th anniversary in 2015, he did. There were more journalists than there were survivors attending in 2015. By the time the 100th anniversary rolls around there won’t be any survivors to attend. There will be our photos....archives and historical documents.....but it’s getting real —- that soon all Holocaust Survivors will be gone. This book is personal — very personal - ( Elizabeth is even a Cancer survivor) - plus her parents were both Holocaust survivors— something she lived with daily. Elizabeth says they could never speak about anything ‘German’ in her house. “Self love *living* in Germany was very difficult— for many German’s after the war too. My heart went out to all the victims. As I mature - time goes on- I begin to feel my compassion expand for the Germans of that day too. And you’ve got to know - being Jewish ... even to ‘think’ in equal terms when it came to this war - felt evil within Jewish homes. Elizabeth speaks of other wars — relating with the Vietnamese, victims of the atom bomb- Cambodian Killing Fields, Armenian, Japanese descendants, etc. ALL THE UNFAIRNESS! But at the very heart of this story is her own connecting story with her parents. MANY powerful memorable chapters in this book. My thoughts were also engaged in how I might help contribute to keep past memories alive that will make a difference in the future. I’m so very proud of this book. Elizabeth Rosner is really magnificent. This book is a gift. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    As a writer of flash/fragments/vignettes, I loved the creative telling of this memoir that is mixed with social science, psychology, and literature and film. Rosner excels at quilting together a tragic story of trauma and recovery. While this focuses on her parents' history during the Holocaust, she brings in other horrific events such as 9/11, Hiroshima, Syria, and more. We learn that trauma not only affects our emotions and thoughts, it invades our physical bodies. This in turn passes on to th As a writer of flash/fragments/vignettes, I loved the creative telling of this memoir that is mixed with social science, psychology, and literature and film. Rosner excels at quilting together a tragic story of trauma and recovery. While this focuses on her parents' history during the Holocaust, she brings in other horrific events such as 9/11, Hiroshima, Syria, and more. We learn that trauma not only affects our emotions and thoughts, it invades our physical bodies. This in turn passes on to the next generation. I was particularly entranced and affected by Rosner's first-person accounts of conversations with "survivors" (a loaded term, according to the author) and with her parallel discussion of survivor trees. The beauty of the cover takes on heavy symbolic meaning as Rosner discusses the resilience of the ginkgo tree. While the subject is grim, it's necessary and profound, and timely. Rosner's struggle to capture trauma and the right words has its own power. I expect this book will receive awards. Highly recommend to readers of nonfiction, creative nonfiction, memoir, social issues, and the Holocaust.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rene Denfeld

    This should be required reading in every high school and university. Rosner plumbs the ways trauma becomes intergenerational, passing down and through us, even as our memories themselves can shift and change. How can we use our past to prevent future pain? This is one of the most profound books I've ever read, clearly written by someone of deep ethics and wisdom. This should be required reading in every high school and university. Rosner plumbs the ways trauma becomes intergenerational, passing down and through us, even as our memories themselves can shift and change. How can we use our past to prevent future pain? This is one of the most profound books I've ever read, clearly written by someone of deep ethics and wisdom.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Riva Sciuto

    "We will embody the DNA of the dead." *** Elizabeth Rosner's 'Survivor Cafe' will leave you with a great deal to consider. How do we carry the traumas our loved ones experienced? Do we inherit them? Do they qualitatively alter our DNA forever? What can we do to preserve the history of traumatic events even if we weren't there to witness them? These questions, among others, are the ones Rosner, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, poses in her latest book. It's a combination of science, psycho "We will embody the DNA of the dead." *** Elizabeth Rosner's 'Survivor Cafe' will leave you with a great deal to consider. How do we carry the traumas our loved ones experienced? Do we inherit them? Do they qualitatively alter our DNA forever? What can we do to preserve the history of traumatic events even if we weren't there to witness them? These questions, among others, are the ones Rosner, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, poses in her latest book. It's a combination of science, psychology, and memoir. And the result is a deeply moving plea for all of us -- individually and collectively -- to bear witness to trauma and keep the past alive through the sharing of our stories. In many ways, Rosner is defined by her parents' harrowing tales of having survived the Holocaust -- an identification to which we are introduced from the book's opening chapter, in which Rosner recites the "Alphabet of Inadequate Language," beginning with, "A is for Auschwitz, where more than a million were gassed and burned into ash. The word that could speak for everything that follows." Rosner carries with her the stories told to her by her father, who was liberated from Buchenwald, and her mother, who hid in the Polish countryside after she escaped the ghetto. Rosner explores the science behind epigenetics, which relates to the mechanism by which the trauma of parents and grandparents is transferred to their children. She writes, "Science brings proof of a legacy we have already known in our bones, our dreams, and our terrors." For anyone who has absorbed -- consciously or not -- the trauma of his/her parents, this research is particularly insightful. Rosner writes, "My generation's DNA carries the expression of our parents' trauma -- and our grandparents' too. Our biochemistry and neurology have been affected by what they endured." Therein lies the premise of her beautifully written memoir: the realization that our biochemistry is actually altered as a result of our parents' trauma. And it's at these "survivor cafes" that Rosner talks with family members of those who survived the Armenian genocide, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese internment camps, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and other horrific atrocities across the world. After all, as Rosner asserts, there will come a point in time when there are no more living survivors of these mass genocides -- so we must listen to (and share) the stories we are told while there are still living witnesses here to tell them. It's clear throughout the book that Rosner is a poet, for her words are a beautiful expression of shared pain, shared grief, and shared storytelling. "We are all obligated to remember, imperfectly and uncomfortably," she writes. "This duty is incumbent upon each of us because it's the truth of being human, the monstrous and the divine, as every philosopher and historian and poet, every prophet and parent and teacher and healer, every clear-eyed observer has ever noted, since we first began to study ourselves. We are both lost and holy. We are neither. We own everything that happened to us and everything that happened to others before." Beautifully, she concludes the book with this: "Selective memory is a human characteristic, of course. Our voluntary and involuntary preference for recalling the positive and erasing the negative. We may be driven by shame or resentment -- or both, as they are interconnected -- but regardless of the reason, we curate our stories, both personal and collective. We airbrush the monstrous and highlight the angelic. We purify and we edit, even when we don't mean to. We want to be better, to seem better, than we are." And even if the truth is ugly, devastating, and horrific, it is still -- it will always be -- our responsibility to bear witness to it. Elizabeth Rosner uses her own personal narrative to make that point, brilliantly and beautifully. Four stars! (Great NPR interview with Rosner here: https://www.npr.org/2017/09/12/550492...)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    "I carry the words; I pass them on. I listen to the stories and tell them again." Thus writes Berkeley novelist and poet Elizabeth Rosner in her deeply moving new memoir, Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory. The stories are the recollections of Rosner's parents, both of them Holocaust survivors, and of countless others she interviewed in researching the articles incorporated in this book. Interspersed among these sometimes shocking stories are accounts of her three vi "I carry the words; I pass them on. I listen to the stories and tell them again." Thus writes Berkeley novelist and poet Elizabeth Rosner in her deeply moving new memoir, Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory. The stories are the recollections of Rosner's parents, both of them Holocaust survivors, and of countless others she interviewed in researching the articles incorporated in this book. Interspersed among these sometimes shocking stories are accounts of her three visits to Buchenwald, where her father was imprisoned as a teenager during the last year of the war, and to Auschwitz, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum outside Jerusalem, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The phenomenon of inherited PTSD Thus, Survivor Café is a memoir, but it is far more than that. Rosner set out to understand the impact of her parents' experiences in the war on her own life. She read deeply in the literature about the Holocaust and about the phenomenon of epigenetics, "the study of environmentally induced changes passed down from one generation to the next." This emerging field is controversial and its research easily overdramatized. However, interpreting the findings narrowly, Rosner found in it an explanation for her own deep feelings about the Holocaust—and those in other second- and third-generation offspring of survivors. As others have observed, the overwhelming majority of Holocaust survivors experienced PTSD in later life. And "PTSD, it turns out, has an impact on the very wiring of the brain, and these changes are transmitted to the offspring." Rosner quotes a Viennese psychoanalyst "who used the term 'transposition' to describe the unconscious cross-generational transmission of massive trauma by Holocaust survivors." I'm confident that this phenomenon is not universal, but I'm equally certain that it's common. I've seen it in action. Beyond the Holocaust In the United States today, "survivors" are often taken to mean those who directly experienced the Nazi Holocaust and lived to talk about it. When analysts broaden their scope, they might refer to other documented examples of genocide in the 20th century, most notably the Armenian, Cambodian, and Rwandan tragedies. In Survivor Café, Rosner further expands the term to encompass those who experienced the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as African-American slavery, with brief references to other incidences of genocide. She also includes the Japanese internment in World War II, which was surely traumatic for those who experienced it though it did not directly lead to large loss of life. Those examples make her case. However, Rosner includes many references to other, far different atrocities that led to inherited PTSD. She cites 9/11, the Sandy Hook school massacre, and the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission, among others. Instead, to stick to a narrower interpretation of inherited PTSD that is limited to genocidal incidents, she might well have explored the subject with survivors of the Ukraine famine in the 1930s, China's Great Leap Forward in the 1950s and 60s, the Biafran war in the 1960s, the Bangladeshi war for independence in the 1970s, and the ongoing civil wars in what is currently called the Democratic Republic of Congo. Every one of those events has caused the death of at least one million people, and most of them far more, leaving tens of millions of survivors. There are other, less dramatic examples of genocide as well. As so many observers have remarked, the last century was an extraordinarily violent time in human history. A quirky chronology Survivor Café is eloquently written and abounds with insight. Rosner has clearly thought deeply about her subject for a great many years, and she has conducted methodical research to flesh out her own perspective. However, in one respect the book is not an easy read: it clearly represents the author's attempt to mesh together several previously published articles. The result is a quirky chronology, with Rosner's account jumping from one decade to another and back again in a fashion that is disorienting at times. There is also some repetition, in which the same event or the same source is described in much the same fashion at two different points in her account. But it's easy enough to shrug off these relatively minor problems. Survivor Café is, in the end, an illuminating piece of work and a worthy addition to the extensive literature of the Holocaust.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Devi Laskar

    This is a beautifully-written, unflinching, thoughtful, well-researched, heartbreaking book and it is necessary. So necessary. Everyone needs to read Survivor Cafe. The stories of the survivors and their legacy of trauma will stay with me for a long time. The Alphabet at the beginning of this book will haunt me forever.

  7. 5 out of 5

    George

    LABYRINTHIAN. “Frequently unspoken, unspeakable events are inevitably transmitted to, and imprinted upon, succeeding generations. Granddaughters continue to confront and heal the pain of a trauma they never experienced.” (Kindle Locations 186-188) With apologies to practically everyone, I had difficulty reading/following Elizabeth Rosner’s quasi-memoir/conjecturing about the effects of extreme trauma on future generations of its victims: Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of M LABYRINTHIAN. “Frequently unspoken, unspeakable events are inevitably transmitted to, and imprinted upon, succeeding generations. Granddaughters continue to confront and heal the pain of a trauma they never experienced.” (Kindle Locations 186-188) With apologies to practically everyone, I had difficulty reading/following Elizabeth Rosner’s quasi-memoir/conjecturing about the effects of extreme trauma on future generations of its victims: Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory. While I enjoyed, and pretty much ‘got’ many of the personal (oral history) vignettes; I quite often found myself lost and confused as to time, place and significance of what I was reading. And, whenever she launched into discussing epigenetic impacts—my eyes glazed-over and my mind took a serious time-out. Recommendation: It’s totally my bad that I was unable to connect with Ms. Rosner’s writing style. I’m confident that there is much of serious importance in these pages to be garnered by better readers than me. “The Holocaust must be remembered. But not as a show.” (Kindle Locations 3111-3112) “Our future depends on our testimony,” warned [Elie] Wiesel. “To forget Auschwitz is to justify Hiroshima—the next Hiroshima. It’s a paradox: only Auschwitz can save the planet from a new Hiroshima.” (Kindle Locations 3148-3149). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition. 4,032 Kindle Locations, 304 pages.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Rynecki

    I read a lot of books having to do with the Holocaust - historical accounts, first person narratives, photo essays, memoirs. I am the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and am, admittedly, a little too obsessed with reading a great deal about this period of history. It used to be that I was searching for answers to my family's own story. More recently it is because as an author and documentary filmmaker facing issues of inherited legacy, I felt an obligation to better understand m I read a lot of books having to do with the Holocaust - historical accounts, first person narratives, photo essays, memoirs. I am the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and am, admittedly, a little too obsessed with reading a great deal about this period of history. It used to be that I was searching for answers to my family's own story. More recently it is because as an author and documentary filmmaker facing issues of inherited legacy, I felt an obligation to better understand my place within this canon of books by the second (and now 3rd) generation of Holocaust survivors. Rosner tackles many of the same subjects, issues, and taboos that I've grappled with for years. I found myself nodding in knowing agreement with many of her experiences - wrestling with a history not exactly her own, chasing lost and fragmented memories, searching for answers to sometimes unanswerable questions. She's read many of the same books and watched many of the same films that I have over the years, and offers them to her reader in segments I often found poetic and timely. I've always felt history is personal and Rosner does an elegant job of weaving her personal story against the larger framework of Holocaust history and what our generation has in common with those of other wars, internment camps, and persecutions.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This book is primarily a memoir - it tells the story about Elizabeth Rosner, whose Jewish parents met after the war, a father who was taken to Buchenwald and mother who escaped the Ghetto to hide in the forest for two years, married and immigrated to America. Living with the stories of their wartime experiences, the author considers what happens as they grow older and when they die - who will tell these stories? How the children and families of survivors also suffer from the pain that parents s This book is primarily a memoir - it tells the story about Elizabeth Rosner, whose Jewish parents met after the war, a father who was taken to Buchenwald and mother who escaped the Ghetto to hide in the forest for two years, married and immigrated to America. Living with the stories of their wartime experiences, the author considers what happens as they grow older and when they die - who will tell these stories? How the children and families of survivors also suffer from the pain that parents still feel and carry. She also talks about many other major traumas in recent history and the effect on survivors and their families - how they move forward yet still honor their loved ones.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This book is primarily about multigenerational trauma and grief, but it's multifaceted, and offers the reader (and/or listener- Rosner does a beautiful job of narrating her own work) a chance to unpack the trauma we all carry with us, as well as ways to parent- so that we don't inflict our own set of hurts onto our children. (This part of the book was most beneficial to me). It's deep. And heavy. And it will make you sob. And even rage a bit. And ask complex questions that are not easily answere This book is primarily about multigenerational trauma and grief, but it's multifaceted, and offers the reader (and/or listener- Rosner does a beautiful job of narrating her own work) a chance to unpack the trauma we all carry with us, as well as ways to parent- so that we don't inflict our own set of hurts onto our children. (This part of the book was most beneficial to me). It's deep. And heavy. And it will make you sob. And even rage a bit. And ask complex questions that are not easily answered. This book is what we need as a society and on the individual level.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mike Bushman

    I probably should have saved this for something other than Christmas reading, but the troubling subjects, personal introspection and strong descriptive writing combined to make the time devoted between celebration preparations and family bonding valuable. It also reminded me of the precious natures of peace, respect and our obligations to look out for one another, personally and politically.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marian

    A stellar book. (Inevitable pun there.) Thoughts to come.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Ridley

    Beautifully written, thought-provoking, a weaving of personal memoir and analysis of the after-effects of trauma on survivors and their descendants. The author's parents were both Holocaust survivors, and the passages where she describes the two trips she makes back to Germany with her father who was imprisoned in Buchenwald are particularly powerful. The narrative goes back and forth in a seemingly random stream of consciousness which some may find off-putting, but I was happy to go along for t Beautifully written, thought-provoking, a weaving of personal memoir and analysis of the after-effects of trauma on survivors and their descendants. The author's parents were both Holocaust survivors, and the passages where she describes the two trips she makes back to Germany with her father who was imprisoned in Buchenwald are particularly powerful. The narrative goes back and forth in a seemingly random stream of consciousness which some may find off-putting, but I was happy to go along for the ride. The weaving together of the impact of the Holocaust with other unspeakable tragedies such as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, slavery, apartheid, the attacks of 9/11, and the discussion of what is and what is not appropriate in terms of how to honor the victims of these events, is well done. The prose is beautiful, it's the sort of book which can be read and re-read many times over. The "Alphabet of Inadequate Language" at the beginning is a haunting list, reads like a poem. An important book

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This was such an emotionally heavy read. And so important. Rosner weaves together these thoughtful dialogues about language, memory, representation, responsibility, and inherited trauma in such an impactful and resonant way. I felt her writing about the words we use when describing atrocities (like genocide, the Holocaust, slavery, the history of lynching, the war in Vietnam, Cambodia, the erasure of indigenous peoples, etc) was really important, too—often times, the constraints of language make This was such an emotionally heavy read. And so important. Rosner weaves together these thoughtful dialogues about language, memory, representation, responsibility, and inherited trauma in such an impactful and resonant way. I felt her writing about the words we use when describing atrocities (like genocide, the Holocaust, slavery, the history of lynching, the war in Vietnam, Cambodia, the erasure of indigenous peoples, etc) was really important, too—often times, the constraints of language make it impossible for us to use words that convey the emotional truth or reality of something. How do we carry forward the stories of survivors and victims for events that are far enough in the past that the people with first-hand experiences are passing away? How do we remember “correctly” when memory itself is so malleable and fallible? How do those who have inherited trauma heal or reconcile that within themselves? I thought this book was so well written and thoughtfully put together. There were some lovely mixes of personal memoir and haunting lyricism amidst the writing, too, that I really appreciated. Definitely a book I’d recommend to friends who are interested in epigenetics, inherited trauma, social justice and responsibility, language, and story-/truth-telling.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Murray Braun

    With all due respect, as a second-generation Holocaust survivor who has suffered greatly from being told rather early in life about my mother's horrific experiences and as a child neurologist familiar with epigenetics, I cannot accept that PTSD is inherited by either children or grandchildren of survivors. The mechanism is surely psychological. Rather recent studies from Israel show that some families' offspring manifest PTSD and more, others do not, which seem to contradict Rosner's thesis. Sinc With all due respect, as a second-generation Holocaust survivor who has suffered greatly from being told rather early in life about my mother's horrific experiences and as a child neurologist familiar with epigenetics, I cannot accept that PTSD is inherited by either children or grandchildren of survivors. The mechanism is surely psychological. Rather recent studies from Israel show that some families' offspring manifest PTSD and more, others do not, which seem to contradict Rosner's thesis. Since "just another Holocaust book" seems to be shunned by both readers and critics, I would read "Survivor Cafe" with the view of honoring Rosner's personal experience. For the other populations that were imprinted with PTSD as a result of their ancestors' suffering I can only hope they will be healed with psychological care, not by ill-founded reliance on epigenetic breakthroughs.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Judy G

    This is a very unusual book almost dont know how to review it. It is about trauma and memory and the main focus is the Jewish People and she is Jewish. She has a very close relationship w her parents and her mother died. Both are survivors of the murderous brutal monstrous Nazis. Mother was not in a camp and her father was at very young age in Buchenwald. The book is about these happenings in modern day Germany to remember Buchenwald and the nazi era yet Im not sure how solid is the intention of This is a very unusual book almost dont know how to review it. It is about trauma and memory and the main focus is the Jewish People and she is Jewish. She has a very close relationship w her parents and her mother died. Both are survivors of the murderous brutal monstrous Nazis. Mother was not in a camp and her father was at very young age in Buchenwald. The book is about these happenings in modern day Germany to remember Buchenwald and the nazi era yet Im not sure how solid is the intention of the german people about this. Elizabeth also talks about other horrendous killings in countries and its effect on the people. As I think about the book what I "remember" most is she is talking about the memory of the survivors and what happens when there is no longer anyone who remembers. There are no answers here no solutions just a presenting Judy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joan Lieberman

    Elizabeth Rosner's narrative offers a rare and powerful example of what the science of epigenetics may mean for future generations. Written with tender clarity, understanding, and hope. Elizabeth Rosner's narrative offers a rare and powerful example of what the science of epigenetics may mean for future generations. Written with tender clarity, understanding, and hope.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    In Germany and sixteen other European countries where Jews once lived there are plaques called Stumbling Stones to note in pavement where Jews last lived. Similarly, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama intends to mark the 4,000 places where a person died through lynching. This book is also about the genocide in Armenia, the people killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and the survivors who lived, the Japanese- Americans who were interned here, on the West Coast, the Rwandan ge In Germany and sixteen other European countries where Jews once lived there are plaques called Stumbling Stones to note in pavement where Jews last lived. Similarly, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama intends to mark the 4,000 places where a person died through lynching. This book is also about the genocide in Armenia, the people killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and the survivors who lived, the Japanese- Americans who were interned here, on the West Coast, the Rwandan genocide, the South African Truth and Reconciliation program, and many more. Though Rosner was raised in Schenectady, it is entirely possible that she doesn’t know Americans kept German Jews in a camp on Lake Oswego during the war. She wrote a whole chapter on how she doesn’t care for the word ‘survivor,’ to describe either her father who lived through Buchenwald or her mother who spent the war years in the forest with partisans in Poland, or herself as a cancer survivor. She and her father were lucky, her mother died of cancer. I strongly recommend this book. I borrowed this from interlibrary loan.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    There was a lot I enjoyed about this book and I think is worth reading for almost anyone, especially if you are interested in history and how we interact with it. Rosner, who I had never read before, is a great writer, but the book was more stream-of-consciousness-y than I was expecting or hoping for. Though I don't know much about epigenetics and in particular how it relates to descendants of those who have survived trauma, I am fascinated by the idea and hoped to learn more about it in the boo There was a lot I enjoyed about this book and I think is worth reading for almost anyone, especially if you are interested in history and how we interact with it. Rosner, who I had never read before, is a great writer, but the book was more stream-of-consciousness-y than I was expecting or hoping for. Though I don't know much about epigenetics and in particular how it relates to descendants of those who have survived trauma, I am fascinated by the idea and hoped to learn more about it in the book. She definitely did her research, which I learned a lot from, but I suppose I was hoping to learn more about the psychology/science behind it. I guess I will have to research more on my own! In any case, I still enjoyed the book, particularly how she tells the stories of her father's harrowing experience in Buchenwald. She makes the reader feel how important it is to hear survivors' stories while we still can, because it will never be the same once they are not here to tell their own stories, as much as we have tried to preserve them. I also found her ideas on the inadequacy of language to describe such atrocities really thought-provoking. Even though it is nearly impossible to write about human atrocities like this, she has done a fine job at it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tenli

    Excruciating, moving, and beautiful exploration of the unendurable and those who somehow endured. Deeply personal yet universal. Starts quietly and roars to its devastating concluding chapters.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Kenny

    I received this book for free from Goodreads. Survivor Café was a very ambitious attempt at weaving together the author’s parents’ memories of the Holocaust, many atrocities throughout history, and epigenetics. It is a shame that this book was so poorly edited. There are a lot of note-to-self comments throughout the book that should have been removed (e.g. “Is it temporary?” referring to an exhibition at a museum showing that the author intended to double check this information before publication I received this book for free from Goodreads. Survivor Café was a very ambitious attempt at weaving together the author’s parents’ memories of the Holocaust, many atrocities throughout history, and epigenetics. It is a shame that this book was so poorly edited. There are a lot of note-to-self comments throughout the book that should have been removed (e.g. “Is it temporary?” referring to an exhibition at a museum showing that the author intended to double check this information before publication; “Insert photo here” and no photo appears – in fact, there are zero photos in the copy I received). The writing style emerged as stream-of-consciousness which really doesn’t work for this book and the message that she was trying to convey. There were a lot of repeated ideas and themes that would have worked better together in chapters instead of being sprinkled around willy nilly.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wyndy Carr

    Survivor Café is not a series of “horror stories.” Unlike the monster and vampire ones in movies and TV serials, these are true “stories” “nations and oceans away” that became and are still becoming closer and closer to home. For Berkeley resident, poet and novelist Elizabeth Rosner, writing this series of reflections began as a coping mechanism to wrestle with the impact of her parents’ memories of enduring, struggling against and eventually escaping the Nazi holocaust as teenagers, continuing Survivor Café is not a series of “horror stories.” Unlike the monster and vampire ones in movies and TV serials, these are true “stories” “nations and oceans away” that became and are still becoming closer and closer to home. For Berkeley resident, poet and novelist Elizabeth Rosner, writing this series of reflections began as a coping mechanism to wrestle with the impact of her parents’ memories of enduring, struggling against and eventually escaping the Nazi holocaust as teenagers, continuing her theme of “the redemptive power of storytelling and love.” Her personal inquiry grew to a more global circle where “The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory” is still vivid, real and raw in her and other lives, particularly through resonances with the suffering, remembering and healing of “survivors” in Guatemala, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Rwanda and then back to the United States. We now know that humans keep trauma in “genetic’ and body memory for generations, whether “the story” was specifically told or untold. As Rosner says, “It seems to me I always knew,” “burdens of grief, anxiety, rage, and so much more.” Knowing this book was about holocausts, and dreading the renewal of such horrors boldly egged on by persons in our own government, the media and at Cal and Civic Center Park; I dragged myself to two readings before approaching Rosner directly for a copy of her book. I’d accidentally seen the Life Magazine at my friend Linda’s house when I was six that had the shocking photos of the opening of the Nazi death camps. Charlottesville was only last summer. I was suffering from PTSD, overwhelm and “seasonal affective” despair. At the November 30th Pegasus reading on Solano Avenue, however, Rosner described how the city of Weimar, Germany, two km away from the Buchenwald camp where her father was held and thousands were starved, worked to death and murdered; was and is “the city of Goethe, Schiller, Franz Liszt.” It’s full of “Beauty,” flowers in window boxes, winding streets and cobblestones. The reality of life is to see, balance and choose ethical behavior within the paradox of life and the evil humans do. Gandhi said humans “are more than the evil we do” in his Principles of Nonviolence, echoed by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his fight for civil rights 25 years later. During the heart of the Weinstein controversy; the Q & A turned to women and girl survivors of rape, trafficking, domestic violence, slavery and harassment. Rosner didn’t miss a stitch in boldly connecting the fabric of trauma, horror and the seductiveness of denial; challenging us to confront our demons and experiences publicly and in solidarity with each other; the “witch hunts,” minimization and silencing that dog women’s lives. Face “the recognition that violence against women and (the brutality that caused) Black Lives Matter” are “predatory behavior,” she said, “unacceptable in work, school, community and family.” “Many survivors were re-traumatized by the election of perpetrators.” Right on! A wave of recognition and relief swept through the room. She was speaking the unspeakable, the truth that is so beyond “inconvenient,” so deeply damaging to those who’ve “put up with it” most of their/ our lives. “Speaking our truth is the most powerful tool we have,” said Oprah Winfrey in her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes last Sunday. Tell it like it is, sisters! Music to my aching ears! “Remembering is complicated,” Rosner admits, but “We all have to take collective responsibility for what happens” and “learn how to honor someone else’s experience…” “The United States are just like other governments: heroic and terrible.” Museums and the media “frame stories and narratives,” including “our genocides here.” It’s our “obligation” to re-humanize “relationships,” “acknowledge the depths of human behavior,” whether our ancestral pasts and traumatic woundings were in Cambodia or Kansas. Understand your own and others’ privilege in staying insulated from or pushing away dreadful experiences, STAY WOKE, as the Black Lives Matter movement and Occupy people say, don’t pretend we don’t know. “Someone may have been harmed by your thoughts, words and actions,” Rosner said. “Begin by acknowledging and honoring those who died,” but “grab life and wrestle with it… persevere (with) resiliency and commitment (that is) greater than the weight of pain.” Sometimes the pain was so great, even after they were safe, some survivors admitted to her, “I wanted to commit suicide, but I wouldn’t give Hitler the satisfaction.” “Bring the conversations back,” and “continue speaking out,” – life is full of “positive images” that can “shift the culture.” Believe that healing joy, caring and ecstasy are also in our DNA, retrievable at any time. “Write, inspire,” “ask difficult questions,” Rosner encouraged. It “isn’t a luxury” to “be educated, calm and practice self-care,” she said, “work with the sources of empathy.” “You’ll only feel worse if you stay apathetic.” When people refer to women who have been harassed or assaulted as “victims” or “accusers,” I always loudly say “SURVIVORS.” Now I know why. Rosner, Elizabeth, Survivor Cafe: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory, Counterpoint LLC, Hollywood, CA, (2017). Oakland Women’s March, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday, January 20th, 2018, starting at Lake Merritt Amphitheater. https://womensmarchoakland.org/

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deb in UT

    This is not light, entertaining reading. It's educational and thought provoking. Elizabeth Rosner is clearly very passionate about her mission to keep the memory of her parents' experiences during the Holocaust alive. She impressively educates and informs. She explains the importance of remembering and sharing the stories of atrocities so people can heal and so history won't repeat itself. I like the personal aspects of this book among which are her experiences of her childhood and the times she This is not light, entertaining reading. It's educational and thought provoking. Elizabeth Rosner is clearly very passionate about her mission to keep the memory of her parents' experiences during the Holocaust alive. She impressively educates and informs. She explains the importance of remembering and sharing the stories of atrocities so people can heal and so history won't repeat itself. I like the personal aspects of this book among which are her experiences of her childhood and the times she traveled to Germany with her father to witness the place where he was held. The book is not only about the Holocaust. The author refers to atrocities done to other people in other nations throughout the world, including some of what happened to Native Americans and to black people here in the United States. She is not all inclusive. I can't help but think of persecutions, injustices, and murders that happened to people from my religion as well as the traumas experienced in my personal family history. Humans of all races and places have done terrible things to each other. The idea that children of survivors can feel the effects of trauma that their parents experienced long after the experience leaves me wondering. More research could be done in this area. It's a fascinating idea. I can imagine spirit children witnessing what their future parents experience from the premortal world more easily than I can imagine it being a physical DNA-related phenomenon. Surely the results of trauma are felt for generations through the effects on parents. If you weren't there, if you didn't experience it, how could you possibly know? Even memory is faulty. It makes me think of the book I read by Sally Mann and what she said about photography-- that when she possesses a picture of something it sometimes takes the place of the memory. It's almost as if it erases the event or person in her mind so all she has is the photograph. A verbal or written record is like a photo. Those things can't possibly capture the entirety of an experience. Some things just can't be communicated. Rosner clearly understands this idea. She mentions that unless people were there they don't really know what it was like. And yet we need to try to remember. But can we truly? History does have a tendency to repeat itself. Distance of time and place makes the present feel unique. Does knowledge of history truly protect us from the evil potential of humanity? I understand the desire to make that happen but I question its power. In the middle of the book, on page 164, Rosner says something about art that I love and want to remember: "One of the most important ways we humans sort through our experiences and memories and feelings is by making art. And, if we can, by sharing that art with others. Sometimes we create in order to make sense of the world, especially when the world makes no sense at all, and sometimes we create in order to illuminate some fragment of that world that might otherwise, for most of us, be trapped in the dark. Sometimes we do it as a way of inviting other people to see inside our minds and our hearts, and sometimes we do it because we realize that no one can see inside our minds or our hearts unless we find words or images or sounds or movements that reflect at least a fraction of what is hidden. And sometimes when we do this to the very best of our abilities, we still fall far short of meaning."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michal Strutin

    I have avoided reading books about the Holocaust, even Night. Yet, Elizabeth Rosner’s Survivor Café seemed to offer a way to examine the Holocaust without becoming overwhelmed. Survivor Café – the title itself is welcoming, if somewhat ironic. It is “intended to humanize and personalize the monumental horrors of the past.” Experienced through Rosner’s senses and her spare, eloquent prose, Survivor Café succeeds. The book is anchored by Rosner’s three trips to Buchenwald, the concentration camp he I have avoided reading books about the Holocaust, even Night. Yet, Elizabeth Rosner’s Survivor Café seemed to offer a way to examine the Holocaust without becoming overwhelmed. Survivor Café – the title itself is welcoming, if somewhat ironic. It is “intended to humanize and personalize the monumental horrors of the past.” Experienced through Rosner’s senses and her spare, eloquent prose, Survivor Café succeeds. The book is anchored by Rosner’s three trips to Buchenwald, the concentration camp her father survived. (Her mother, then a teenager, hid on a farm in the Polish countryside.) Her description of the Buchenwald trips finds a seamless balance between elegiac and reportorial. The first trip, colored in tones of gray, sketches an austere contrast to the place whose name means “beech forest.” During the second trip, minor family entanglements, lost luggage, and other tangibles of travel bring the reader close, allowing us to experience some of what Rosner experienced, thus bringing the reason for her trips closer, too. The subtitle, The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory, reflects Rosner’s exploration of how the horrors of the Holocaust lead to a legacy of trauma, an epigenetic reaction that is transmitted through at least three generations. And how many more? In her exploration, Rosner finds that the killing fields of Cambodia and the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide have produced similar legacies. If one could trace the trauma of, say, the Inquisition, how many generations were damaged by those events? Throughout the book Rosner reminds the reader that it is not possible to render the full extent—both physical and psychological—of the Holocaust. Yet her research and conversations with those close to other such horrors remind readers that perpetrating genocide is not specific to Germany. Reflecting the second half of her subtitle, The Labyrinth of Memory, Rosner examines how we understand and remember genocidal atrocities. Her concern centers on how we remember the Holocaust especially once the generation that directly experienced it is gone. “Sometimes we create to make sense of the world,” she says. We create memorials, build museums, write books, and make art to honor those who endured horrors, to understand, and to avoid repeating them. In one of her examples, Rosner describes the project that the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative is developing: a series of markers and a central monument memorializing places where African-Americans were lynched. Will past atrocities truly be revealed through the lenses of time and memory? Will they encompass the enormity? How could they? The Inquisition occurred more than 500 years ago. Yet, over the past few decades, books, museum exhibits, even political reconciliation have emerged focused on those long-ago events. Will something similar happen with Holocaust history—a resurgence of memory filtered in many ways, by many years? Perhaps as one answer to such questions, Rosner introduces the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, “an aesthetic which prizes impermanence, imperfection, and incompletion.” Although remembering and expressing is impossible to complete fully, we can illuminate. Survivor Café engages the reader to think, question, muse. What better role for a book? The only time I cried was when I read about Rosner’s mother, who lived on the edge surviving the Holocaust. Years later, living comfortably in the United States, she still sucked the marrow from chicken bones. A mundane but desperate legacy of trauma.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laura Turner

    All my reviews can be found on my blog at: https://pageturnersnook.wordpress.com Oh my, what a book. Elizabeth Rosner … wow. Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and The Labyrinth of Memory needs to be a required read in every single school, college, university and learning facility across the globe! I was privileged to read Survivor Café (I will shorten the title) as part of Jewish Book Week and when I say ‘privileged’, I mean I am truly honoured, it blew me away. So much is involved in Survivor C All my reviews can be found on my blog at: https://pageturnersnook.wordpress.com Oh my, what a book. Elizabeth Rosner … wow. Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and The Labyrinth of Memory needs to be a required read in every single school, college, university and learning facility across the globe! I was privileged to read Survivor Café (I will shorten the title) as part of Jewish Book Week and when I say ‘privileged’, I mean I am truly honoured, it blew me away. So much is involved in Survivor Café; it encompasses a tragic story of trauma and recovery and teaches us that tragic events such as the Holocaust, 9/11, Hiroshima and many others are more than just events that take place, they are also an entity seeping into every crevice of our physical bodies effecting emotions and thoughts, which pass on from generation to generation (intergenerational). Survivor Café will leave you in a deep state of mind (it did me). It will leave you considering many a thing, and it will also leave you asking many a question … how can we use the past to prevent future pain? Do traumas that our loved ones experienced alter our DNA? Quite deep thoughts aren’t they? Certainly something to contemplate. Using a combination of science, psychology and memoir, Rosner has created something award winning. Beautifully stunning, she concludes Survivor Café with: “Selective memory is a human characteristic, of course. Our voluntary and involuntary preference for recalling the positive and erasing the negative. We may be driven by shame or resentment — or both, as they are interconnected — but regardless of the reason, we curate our stories, both personal and collective. We airbrush the monstrous and highlight the angelic. We purify and we edit, even when we don’t mean to. We want to be better, to seem better, than we are.” For me, this statement tells us that regardless of how ugly and devastating the truth is, it is our responsibility to witness it and carry it forth (intergeneration) because those events happened and made us who we are today so it is our duty to never forget. Café = 5*. Absolutely stunning, absolutely valuable and 100% moving.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Goddard

    A beautiful exploration of the memory of trauma as it moves through generations. I loved the thoughtfulness of Rosner's writing and her insightful pulling together of different types of trauma. It made me think more deeply about the legacy of trauma. In my own history work, I've been comparing Mary Lincoln's blood-spattered cape and Jackie Kennedy's blood-spattered pink suit. For audiences today, the pink suit is violently charged with emotion, while the cape is much less emotionally powerful. Au A beautiful exploration of the memory of trauma as it moves through generations. I loved the thoughtfulness of Rosner's writing and her insightful pulling together of different types of trauma. It made me think more deeply about the legacy of trauma. In my own history work, I've been comparing Mary Lincoln's blood-spattered cape and Jackie Kennedy's blood-spattered pink suit. For audiences today, the pink suit is violently charged with emotion, while the cape is much less emotionally powerful. Audiences typically shrug when I point this out, saying that it makes sense because Lincoln's death occurred so long ago and they have a personal memory of the Kennedy assassination. I've always gone along with this, but Rosner really made me stop and think more deeply. The Lincoln assassination has had reverberations in American history that continue to this day. Perhaps we ought to stop and wonder why the cape no longer carries the emotional memory of the horror and what that means. Not that we need to reattach the emotion of trauma to it, but rather that we ought to explore what it means for our memory of our national history that the trauma of that event no longer carries the emotional punch it once did. This is really a beautiful, thought-provoking book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Davida Hartman

    Survivor Café is a stunning, tour de force. I so admire how Rosner weaves in impeccable research, personal experiences, and thoughtful regard for telling stories about the Holocaust and other specific atrocities experienced country by country. Her poignant message to keep remembering now and for future generations is of particular note. Rosner’s writing is exceptional. I particularly felt as though I was travelling with her on her journeys. Her Electric City is one of my favorites, but now this Survivor Café is a stunning, tour de force. I so admire how Rosner weaves in impeccable research, personal experiences, and thoughtful regard for telling stories about the Holocaust and other specific atrocities experienced country by country. Her poignant message to keep remembering now and for future generations is of particular note. Rosner’s writing is exceptional. I particularly felt as though I was travelling with her on her journeys. Her Electric City is one of my favorites, but now this tops my list. Davida Hartman

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maureen O'Leary

    This book is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the long reaching effects of war trauma on individuals, families, and whole societies. Ms. Rosner takes her reader on a cold, hard tour of the human fallout of violence, fascism, and war. This is at once a book of history, science, and memoir. Meticulously researched and told with an unflinching gaze at the worst of human action as well as the most miraculous of human survival. Survivor Cafe has changed me, and has made the need for This book is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the long reaching effects of war trauma on individuals, families, and whole societies. Ms. Rosner takes her reader on a cold, hard tour of the human fallout of violence, fascism, and war. This is at once a book of history, science, and memoir. Meticulously researched and told with an unflinching gaze at the worst of human action as well as the most miraculous of human survival. Survivor Cafe has changed me, and has made the need for resistance against the fascists in our current regime ever more urgent. Highly recommended.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Stark-Nemon

    Elizabeth Rosner’s Survivor Café is a book only an accomplished essayist, poet, fiction writer and child of Holocaust survivors could write. The contrast of her beautiful prose with the themes of the lingering effects of trauma and the memory of trauma in survivors of atrocities and their descendants creates the very paradoxes in the reader that the book demonstrates so well. This thoroughly researched, and intensely personal work is an absolute treasure.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Margerywieder

    A readable examination of the intergenerational impact of trauma, focused especially but not exclusively on how the author and others were affected by their parents' experience during and after the Holocaust. (She also discusses the intergenerational impact of slavery in this country, the Cambodian killing fields, the Rwandan genocide, etc.) A readable examination of the intergenerational impact of trauma, focused especially but not exclusively on how the author and others were affected by their parents' experience during and after the Holocaust. (She also discusses the intergenerational impact of slavery in this country, the Cambodian killing fields, the Rwandan genocide, etc.)

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