Holocaust Survivors Live Longer—Among Men

Study looked at 55K emigrants from Poland to Israel

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 7, 2013 3:48 PM CDT

(Newser) – Think Holocaust victims suffer from survivor's guilt? Maybe, but according to a new study, Holocaust survivors live an average of 6 months longer than those who avoided the Nazi menace, Pacific Standard reports. Among 55,220 emigrants from Poland to modern-day Israel, men who lived in Europe between 1939 and 1945 lived longer than those who emigrated before 1939. "Against all odds, survivors are likely to live longer," writes the research team led by a University of Haifa psychologist.

Age played a role, too: Those aged four to nine when the Holocaust began didn't live longer, but survivors aged 10 to 15 at the Holocaust's outset lived an extra 10 months and those aged 16 to 20 an extra 18 months. Why the lifespan gap? The researchers suggest either "post-traumatic growth"—the discovery that life is more meaningful and satisfying after a horrible experience—or the notion that Holocaust survivors were already stronger and likely to live longer. The study found no difference in lifespan among female survivors, who lived on average longer than the men.

Holocaust survivor Adolek Kohn looks out the window of a train freight car that used to transport people to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, in this undated image.
Holocaust survivor Adolek Kohn looks out the window of a train freight car that used to transport people to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, in this undated image.   (AP Photo/Jane Korman)
This January 1941 file photo shows entry to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, with snow-covered railtracks leading to the camp.
This January 1941 file photo shows entry to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, with snow-covered railtracks leading to the camp.   (AP Photo/File)
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