Sixty Five Years Later - Mental Health Center for Holocaust Survivors

30 images Created 18 Jan 2011

Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center for Holocaust survivors in Pardes Hanna, Israel, managed by the Israeli Association for Public Health, is a home for about 70 Holocaust survivors. Most of them, who were children during the Holocaust, lost many or all of their family members. Along the years they emigrated to Israel, tried to integrate into the Israeli society and build their new lives but they were driven insane by their childhood experiences, and instead, they ended up in mental institutions. Sixty Five years afer the end of WWII, they are still living the horror.

Most of the patients at Shaar Menashe, never established a family and throughout the years, they moved from one mental institution to another. For decades they lived at the edge of Israeli society without any capability of living a normal life. Because of their age, many of them need nursing treatment. They live the horror and inferno as if it happened yesterday, hearing voices, suffering from nightmares, confusing illusions and reality. They spend most of the day staring into the distance, hardly speaking and sometimes mumbling while sucking a single cigarette every hour.

The number of Holocaust survivors at Shahar Menashe mental hospital declines each year. Each one of them carries his life story and is a living testimony of the horrors he has experienced. They did survive but their lives actually stopped, 65 years ago, living the memories of their life as they were before the Second World War, combined with illusions and nightmares, traveling between illusions and reality.

There are estimated 230,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today. It is estimated that about 10 percent of them need mental treatment. Most of them don't get it. The story of the Holocaust survivors at Shaar Menashe mental hospital is the story of many other Holocaust survivors. Even those who managed to integrate into society and build new lives carry deep mental scars which can never be healed.
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