Iranian missile (file)
Iranian missile (file)Reuters

The Holocaust continues to take its toll, even 70 years later: A study has shown that adult children of Holocaust survivors are more concerned with the threat of a nuclear Iran than their peers whose parents are not Holocaust survivors.  

The study, conducted by Dr. Amit Shrira, of Bar-Ilan University's Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences, was published in a recent issue of Psychological Trauma, an American Psychological Association (APA) journal dedicated to the study of trauma and its aftermath.

The work is entitled, "Transmitting the Sum of All Fears: Iranian Nuclear Threat Salience Among Offspring of Holocaust Survivors." Dr. Shrira set out to test the "hostile-world scenario" among second-generation survivors. 

"Hostile-world scenario" is a term coined by Prof. Dov Shmotkin to describe one's image of actual or potential threats to one's life or physical and mental integrity. Shmotkin is Professor in the School of Psychological Sciences and Head of the Herczeg Institute on Aging, both at Tel Aviv University.

Shrira first studied a total of 106 people born to European-Jewish parents after World War II ended in 1945, including 63 whose parents lived under a Nazi or pro-Nazi regime. The parents of the others immigrated to either Israel or other non-Nazi countries before WWII.

The study's main findings are that 2nd-generation Holocaust survivors exhibit greater preoccupation with the Iranian nuclear threat, and also have a more ominous outlook on the world in general.

Most notably, Shrira then performed a second study, on a similar sample of 450 participants - 300 second-generation Holocaust survivors and 150 comparison participants.  The same results were found, giving additional validity to the findings.

"In second-generation survivors we most often see that they are a group with resilience and mental resources," Shrira wrote, "and they generally exhibit good functioning on a daily basis. But they do have vulnerabilities which can be manifested during times of stress."

Shrira also participated in a study in 2011 that Holocaust-survivor offspring, and especially those with two survivor parents, reported a higher sense of well-being - but more physical health problems - than the comparison group.