Trauma in Old Age

The research project

The reasearch project “Trauma in Old Age“ is nearly finished. Here you find a short report on the project as well as further information on the project. Further research results at the beginning of 2015 under the title Kindheiten im Krieg und Nationalsozialismus (Spring 2015, Beltz-Juventa).


Many people who today are over 60 years old suffered from war and persecution in their childhood and youth.  An additional factor is that they were socialized under the reign of National Socialist education maxims. These personal experiences of war and its consequences and  the influence of  NS ideology has had  great traumatizing potential. 

Often these memories recur especially in old age and entail today great psychic stress for the former children and adolescents. Just at the point of the reorientation which is connected with retirement and becoming a pensioner,  early childhood experiences can unfold their meaning anew and the former traumatization may be reactivated. 

To understand the recurring traumatization, it is not enough, as is commonly the case, to consider the consequences of the nights of bombing  and the experience of flight and expulsion;  rather it is crucial to include NS ideology and NS education.

Research project “Trauma in Old Age“

From Mai 2009 to April 2013 we conducted a project on this theme which was supported by the Bundesministerium für Forschung und Bildung (Federal Ministry of Research and Education, BMBF) at the University for Applied Sciences in Frankfurt am Main. The aim of the project was to examine the late consequences of early traumatization in persons who were born between 1930 and 1945 and to develop concepts for trauma work in old age. 

In order to accomplish these goals, we conducted a series of talks with concerned people who reported on their childhood in World War II and on their personal handling of the stressful experiences. We posed, among others, the following questions to them: 

  • Which experiences can you remember?
  • Have these experiences influenced your life and your relationships?
  • Are you still dealing with these experiences?
  • How has your dealing with these themes changed in the last years?

Trauma work in the old age – theory praxis transfer

We have utilized the scientific findings on individual strategies for coping, protection and risk factors to shape social pedagogical concepts for the support of constructive trauma work in old age. We have produced these concepts so that they can be used for basic and further training in many areas of social work as well as nursing. 

Our social pedagogical concepts facilitate professionalized handling of the early traumatization through war and National Socialism. In this way not only can life in old age can be made easier for traumatized people, but also the professional work of the specialists. (what about for family members?) 

Together with our project partners we conceived workshops for former war children and basic and further training workshops for specialists and volunteers. In this way our social pedagogical concepts have been tested in practice. Additionally, the trauma pedagogical concepts have been integrated in the curriculum of the elderly care training in the Hufeland House. 

We external continuous education programs as well as in-house training for specialists and volunteers coming from the area of social work and nursing.

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last updated on: 03.26.2020