Hannah HahnFeb 19, 2021
They Left It All Behind
Trauma, Loss, and Memory Among Eastern European Jewish Immigrants and their Children
Rowman & Littlefield 2019
Hannah Hahn’s They Left It All Behind: Trauma, Loss and Memory Among Eastern European Jewish Immigrants and Their Children (Roman and Littlefield, 2020) explores the impact of conflict, social change and immigration on the psychology of Eastern European Jewish immigrants and their descendants.
Focusing her analysis on interviews with 22 children of immigrants who came to United States before the immigration restrictions of the 1920s, Hahn shows how the past weighed on immigrant Jews and their American children. Contrary to claims that the immigrants simply “left it all behind” in Eastern Europe, Hahn concludes that the silence of immigrant parents was part of a larger story of suffering, trauma and the transmission of memories across generations. They Left It All Behind illuminates both the history of Jews in the United States and the kinds of problems immigrant families face today.
Robert W. Snyder is Manhattan Borough Historian and professor emeritus of American Studies and Journalism at Rutgers University. He is the author of Crossing Broadway: Washington Heights and the Promise of New York (Cornell, paperback, 2019) and co-author of All the Nations Under Heaven: Immigrants, Migrants and the Making of New York (Columbia, 2019). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.