Friday, March 3, 2017

New Novel Explores Four Decades of Research on Survivor’s Guilt After the Holocaust

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In his new novel, ‘Out of the Depths’, author David Harry Tannenbaum uses fictional Holocaust survivor Dr. Bernard Helgman to highlight the survivor’s guilt that plagued many after the Holocaust. Tannenbaum spent four decades interviewing Holocaust survivors and compiling research.

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In his new novel, Out of the Depths, author David Harry Tannenbaum uses fictional Holocaust survivor Dr. Bernard Helgman to highlight the unresolved—and, perhaps, unsolvable—trauma that follows a man long after he leaves the barbed wire fence behind. Survivor’s guilt is now a recognized emotional and psychological condition that sometimes follows military personnel home from the war.

After World War I, people started using the term “survivor’s guilt” to describe the returning soldiers who carried the heavy burden of guilt that often comes from surviving when others did not. After World War II, doctors saw similar anxiety symptoms in Holocaust survivors they observed in soldiers who survived combat or citizens who survived natural disasters, terrorist attacks, plane crashes, and sudden loss of jobs.

It is these feelings that plague protagonist Dr. Bernard Helgman, who is haunted by dark memories and remorse of his time in Auschwitz, before he was even an adult. During the Holocaust, Helgman—a Jewish prisoner—had been forced to assist the SS doctors in their gruesome experiments.

David Harry Tannenbaum says, “Helgman's struggle to put Auschwitz behind him is a powerful story of our human drive to survive whatever life throws our way.” Tannenbaum says this story is important to him, after learning more about the Holocaust during law school. Despite having grown up Jewish, Tannenbaum had not been exposed to an in-depth examination of the Holocaust.

He spent the next forty years making up for it. In law school, he read cases stemming from the Nuremburg Trials. After graduation, while doing charity work in New Jersey, Tannenbaum met a man who had his concentration camp number tattooed on his arm. He was inspired to talk to Holocaust survivors and research the long-term mental and emotional impact of the trauma it caused, culminating in Out of the Depths.

David Harry Tannenbaum

David Harry Tannenbaum is a retired patent attorney and the author of five mystery novels, as well as a novel on autism and Asperger's 's syndrome—Standard Deviation. Originally from the East Coast, David was introduced to South Padre Island in 1992. Tannenbaum, and his wife, Mary, now live on the island with their dog, Franco. When not on the Island, David and Mary can usually be found enjoying Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Sandy Lawrence, Publicist

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