At WWII 60th anniversary, descendants meet to reflect

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The conference, which started Wednesday, was called "The Presence of Absence: International Holocaust Conference for Eyewitnesses and Descendants From 'Both Sides.'"

World War II was triggered on Sept. 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland.

Conference participants included scholars, artists, researchers, psychologists and social workers, as well as survivors and members of the "second" and "third" generations from a number of countries, including Germany, Israel, Holland and the United States.

Themes included how being a descendant of either side influences personal identity, the issue of "money and justice," various ways in which the Holocaust is commemorated and the future of memory as the "eyewitness" generation passes away.

"I feel that I have multiple identities," said one German participant. "I have relatives in Holland who collaborated with the Nazis. My first wife was Jewish, so I have Jewish and Israeli relatives. And as for my father — he was executed as a Nazi war criminal."

The meeting, organized by the organizations in London, Berlin and Vienna that deal with issues of Holocaust legacy, was co-sponsored by a variety of public departments and government ministries.