Jewish and Non-Jewish World War II Child and Adolescent Survivors at 60 Years After War: Effects of Parental Loss and Age at Exposure on Weil-Being


Trauma, Health, and Hazards Center, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO, 80933-7150. E-mail:


The study investigated the effects of World War II (WWII) on psychological and social functioning of Jewish and non-Jewish survivors 60 years after the war. The authors hypothesized that the level of posttraumatic symptoms, depression, and social isolation of survivors who were at least 5 years old (but younger than 18) in the last year of WWII would be predicted by the extent of traumatic loss, (i.e., death of parent[s]) and age at the end of WWII. Data were collected from 211 individuals living in Poland, ages 66–80; 30% were Jewish Holocaust survivors. Current posttraumatic stress disorder was almost 2 times higher for Jewish (55.6%) than for non-Jewish survivors (30.9%), whereas no differences were found for depression and social isolation. Parental loss during the war predicted a global decrement of well-being (across measured outcome indices). For certain subgroups (e.g., Jewish survivors who had not lost their parents during WWII), war trauma may have less profound effects if most of the trauma exposure occurred during an earlier age (i.e., <5 years).