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Healing the Holocaust: Truth and Reconciliation Dialogue Across Generations

Professor Amanda Byron in Berlin. - contributed photo
Professor Amanda Byron in Berlin.
— image credit: contributed photo

Professor Amanda Byron will present a talk on her experience with a truth and reconciliation dialogue about the Holocaust this past summer in Berlin.

The event will be on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. at the West Sound Community Club.

The dialogue was facilitated by One by One, a foundation committed to “transforming the legacies of conflict, war and genocide through dialogue, one by one.” Participants included the second and third generation descendants of survivors, perpetrators, bystanders and resisters from all over the world.

According to One by One, many people who have been close to war and genocide carry the pain of unresolved trauma, and often pass their fears, stereotypes and prejudices to the next generation. The dialogue process is designed to begin to alleviate the burdens of one's traumatic past and interrupt the intergenerational transmission of trauma, prejudice and group hatred.

Byron, a core faculty member at Portland State University’s graduate program in Conflict Resolution Studies, has always felt a strong connection to her Jewish and German roots – even as her German-born mother and grandmother down-played the significance of their shared history. Seeking the truth, some validation of her own pain around the events of the Holocaust and the hope of peace through greater understanding and connection, Byron spent ten days in Berlin immersed in the dialogue process, visiting significant historical sites and taking in the country of her mother’s birth for the first time.

She writes, “One of the big questions that emerged during the course of the Dialogue was the importance of telling these stories. Specifically, many people brought up the importance of telling the stories to our children and grandchildren so that they know what is in their DNA and why. Those Dialogue participants who never learned their parents’ and grandparents’ stories were deeply troubled by the stories they felt, but didn’t know.”

This event is sponsored by the Orcas Island Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which meets the second and fourth Sunday of each month at the West Sound Community Club. All are welcome. For more information on Orcas UUF go to www.orcasislanduu.org. For more information on the event, call Suzanne Olson at 376-8007.

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