More Than Mazel? Luck and Agency in Surviving the Holocaust

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agency, collaborative witnessing, Holocaust, Jewish resistance, luck

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The canonical explanation for how Jews survived during the Holocaust involves some form of luck. To explore and deepen an understanding of episodic moments of luck, this article presents and discusses survivor Jerry Rawicki's close calls with death during the Holocaust. The first author examines Jerry's perspective as a survivor and her own perspective as a collaborative witness to his stories, as well as how these stories fit together within the broader literature about luck and survival. She suggests possible consequences of regarding luck as the sole explanation of survival and contends that agency and luck can go hand in hand even under oppressive structural conditions, such as the Holocaust. She concludes by reflecting on why Jerry and she might understand survival differently and on the importance of considering both positions in compassionate collaborative research.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Loss and Trauma: International Perspectives on Stress & Coping, v. 19, issue 2, p. 99-120