Aftermath of Genocide: Holocaust Survivors' Dissociation Moderates Offspring Level of Cortisol

Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Ayala Fridman, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Abraham Sagi-Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the effects of the Holocaust on diurnal cortisol secretion in survivors and their adult offspring. Israeli female Holocaust survivors and matched comparisons formed a case-control study design with two generations: 32 Holocaust survivors and 33 comparisons, along with their offspring (total N = 144). Participants self-reported on dissociation and physical health, and their salivary cortisol levels were assessed during the day. Complete cortisol data was available for 58 and 74 first- and second-generation participants, respectively. Holocaust survivors showed higher levels of daily cortisol versus comparisons. Their offspring showed lower cortisol levels only when surviving parents displayed more dissociation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-80
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The generous support of the German-Israel Foundation for Research and Development (GIF 279) and the Koehler Stiftung (Munich, Germany) to Avi Sagi-Schwartz, Klaus Grossmann, and Marinus van IJzendoorn is deeply appreciated. Marinus van IJzendoorn and Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg were supported by research awards from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO SPINOZA prize and VIDI Grant 452-04-306, respectively). The authors also thank their research assistants, Tali Grossman and Yamit Ophir, for their dedicated and sensitive involvement in the project. Special thanks to Sarit Alkalay for her helpful and valuable contribution.


  • Holocaust
  • cortisol
  • dissociation
  • genocide
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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