Memory Remains

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk

Forgotten and Forgiven


“Vergessen und vergeben aber im Hertzen bleibst kleben” is an old German proverb (forgotten and forgiven but in the heart it remains).  Memory remains for good deeds and for evil.  Can holocaust survivors forget what was done to them, the atrocities that they suffered?  They will never be the same, different from all others who can not even imagine what trauma the relatively small numbers of survivors who came to the United States feel.  The very thought brings pictures of torture, rejection, hunger, anxiety, caution, fear, and much more.  Can the Jewish people accept the prevarications that the Holocaust did not exist?  Of course not! 

Look into the history of the Armenians and the poverty, theft, and killings that were suffered by them at the hands of the Turks. Were those survivors really able to forgive and forget?

It is a delusion that a normal individual can dismiss trauma and pain that he or she was exposed to and with which he was victimized. It is abnormal not to feel.  Even animals that were beaten by their former master will react with aversion and fear.  Dogs can be seen cowering when such a person comes near them.

We have all spoken to persons who were physically severely abused by a husband and will allege that she has forgiven him because she “loves him so much.”  This is abnormal and the person who experienced the injured eye, the fractured limb, or the swollen lip has very little self respect and feels like an outcast who is not lovable or acceptable. 

There is the spouse who is unfaithful to her partner, who repeatedly has affairs with other men, and frequently breaks up her marriage for a considerable period of time.  When she returns after many absences, can the husband actually ever trust her again?  Can he definitely ever forget what was done to him?  He is minimized and in his heart he cannot dismiss or feel loved, wanted, and secure with such an individual.  The feelings of bitterness and anger will never totally disappear, and revenge will come in his thoughts and possibly even in his actions.

It is also true in politics. Looking back, when the dust settled, we learned that Franklin Roosevelt was not a friend of the Jewish people.  He refused to rescue the German and Polish Jews who could have escaped death and annihilation if he had permitted the entrance of these people into the United States. He was not a friend of the Jewish people, as they imagined he was.  Yet we were blind and believed the façade that surrounded him.  We must take a closer look at situations and what can occur if we are a people against ourselves. 

Let us not ever be the abused individual, whether husband wife, or discarded because of our religion.  Let us not have to forgive or forget, but view situations before they occur.  Let us recognize our current leader, who dislikes Israel and agrees with the Muslim terrorists.  If we discharge him before it is too late we will not have to forget or forgive!


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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