The Second Generation Of Trauma

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"Some quirk in human nature allows even the most unspeakable acts of evil to become banal within minutes, provided that they occur far enough away to pose no personal threat." Iris Chang, the author of The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII The legacy of trauma passes on to the next generation. It is an established idea that trauma associated with the Holocaust and with war can be transmitted from those directly affected to later generations. The class discussion about the second-generation trauma of the Vietnam veteran left an intriguing question about healing the trauma of war: whose body is counted? This reminds me of the life of Iris Chang, a Chinese-American second-generation descendant of survivors from the Sino-Japanese War, and her book “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII.” Chang’s account is an example of how memories of war pass from one generation to the next. In her book, she illustrates how trauma and politics are interconnected and describes how politics can either contribute to or impede the healing process. Since the War, the Chinese and Japanese Governments and the citizens of these counties seem to struggling with this process. Chang grew up hearing accounts of how her family members lived through the war. She felt that she carried a burden and a duty to ensure that the history of the Rape of Nanking was rescued from obscurity. She writes that her parents “never forgot the horrors of the Sino-Japanese War, nor did they want me to forget.” Chang seemed to inherit pain from her parents who seem to have been burdened with unresolved collective grief. To achieve this objective, she investigated the past tragedy and interviewed many survivors. As a representative of the post-war generation, Chang could only honor and repeat what she had been told and could uncover, by recounting events which she did not experience by

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