City Research Online

The Aftermath of Hitler’s Fury: a qualitative exploration of the lived experience of motherhood for female holocaust survivors

Shemen, M. (2018). The Aftermath of Hitler’s Fury: a qualitative exploration of the lived experience of motherhood for female holocaust survivors. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The traumatic experience of Holocaust survivors is not an under-researched topic. However, whilst the literature offers insight into a general ‘survivor syndrome’, it fails to adequately consider the implications of Holocaust trauma from a gendered perspective. Whilst researchers have considered the experience of the Holocaust for female survivors, they only touch on its impact on their interpersonal relationships with their children, without offering insight into the nature and extent of this impact. Furthermore, the literature approaches the subject from the perspective of survivors’ children, rather than survivors themselves. This piece of qualitative research aims to fill this gap in the literature by asking the following question: How do female survivors of the Holocaust make sense of their experience of motherhood? Eight female Holocaust survivors were interviewed for this study, each in the course of a semi structured interview, lasting between ninety and one hundred and eighty minutes. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three Superordinate themes emerged from the study, highlighting how participants made sense of their experience of motherhood following their Holocaust trauma. The first superordinate theme, ‘Making sense of the self in relation to the other’, is linked to three subordinate themes: 1) The Roles and Responsibilities of a Mother; 2) Origins of Mothering Values; 3) The Experience of Change Throughout Motherhood. The second superordinate theme, ‘Navigating the Experience of Distance and Closeness’ constitutes two subthemes: 1) Connection and Disconnection; 2) Gratitude and Taking for Granted. The third superordinate theme, ‘Negotiating Internal Conflicts’, comprises three subordinate themes: 1) Hope and Hopelessness; 2) Fear and Stability; 3) Pride and Shame. These themes are discussed within the
study and links are made to the relevant existing literature. The challenges of conducting this research are discussed, along with the strengths and limitations of this study and the implications it has for the field and practice of Counselling Psychology. Finally, ideas for further research are presented.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
[thumbnail of Shemen, Miranda_Redacted.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (6MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login