The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp

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    Ravensbrück was the only major Nazi concentration camp for women. Located about fifty miles north of Berlin, the camp was the site of murder by slave labor, torture, starvation, shooting, lethal injection, "medical" experimentation, and gassing.
    While this camp was designed to hold 5,000 women, the actual figure was six times this number. Between 1939 and 1945, 132,000 women from twenty-three countries were imprisoned in Ravensbrück, including political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, "asocials" (including Gypsies, prostitutes, and lesbians), criminals, and Jewish women (who made up about 20 percent of the population). Only 15,000 survived.
    Drawing upon more than sixty narratives and interviews of survivors in the United States, Israel, and Europe as well as unpublished testimonies, documents, and photographs from private archives, Rochelle Saidel provides a vivid collective and individual portrait of Ravensbrück’s Jewish women prisoners. She worked for over twenty years to track down these women whose poignant testimonies deserve to be shared with a wider audience and future generations. Their memoirs provide new perspectives and information about satellite camps (there were about 70 slave labor sub-camps). Here is the story of real daily camp life with the women’s thoughts about food, friendships, fear of rape and sexual abuse, hygiene issues, punishment, work, and resistance. Saidel includes accounts of the women's treatment, their daily struggles to survive, their hopes and fears, their friendships, their survival strategies, and the aftermath.
    On April 30, 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Ravensbrück. They found only 3,000 extremely ill women in the camp, because the Nazis had sent other remaining women on a death march. The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp reclaims the lost voices of the victims and restores the personal accounts of the survivors.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Saidel's goal is to make visible a previously ignored aspect of women's Holocaust history. . . . In bringing to light the experiences of the women of Ravensbrück concentration camp, Saidel adds to our knowledge of Jewish survival in the genocidal conditions created by the Nazis."—Rochelle G. Ruthchild, Women's Review of Books

"Thanks to Rochelle Saidel's sensitive interviews and meticulous research, together with the many previously unpublished photographs and haunting drawings by the inmates, this book will increase public recognition of Ravensbrück's victims and survivors. With this, The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp takes its honorable place in the growing genre of gender study of the Holocaust."—Eetta Prince-Gibson, Jerusalem Post

"This is a welcome addition to the Holocaust literature. . . . Readers interested in visual historical materials will appreciate the wide range of photographs and illustrations depicting life in this camp. I expect this book to attract a wide audience."—Nechama Tec, author of Resilience and Courage: Women, Men and the Holocaust

 "Rochelle Saidel's The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp focuses on a portion of the Holocaust that has been submerged in the larger history of a camp associated primarily with political dissidents. This book is the outcome of over twenty years of indefatigable research in archives and libraries, and of interviews in several countries with survivors of Ravensbrück. Saidel presents their deeply moving stories against a carefully constructed context of the camp's history. . . . This book is clearly a labor of deep commitment and love."—Ruth Schwertfeger, author of Women of Theresienstadt and The Wee Wild One

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299198640
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 302
  • Sales rank: 623,143
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Rochelle Saidel is founder and executive director of the Remember the Women Institute in New York and senior scientific researcher at the Center for the Study of Women and Gender at the University of São Paulo. She is author of Never Too Late to Remember: The Politics behind New York City's Holocaust Museum and The Outraged Conscience: Seekers of Justice for Nazi War Criminals in America.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations XI
Preface to the 2006 Edition XV
Acknowledgments XIX
Introduction: Ravensbruck on My Mind 3
1 A Special Hell for Women 12
2 Triangles of Many Colors 26
3 Olga Benario Prestes and Kathe Pick Leichter 41
4 Resistance that Lifted the Spirit 53
5 Joyless Childhoods 64
6 A Year of Comings and Goings, 1944 79
7 Women at Work 95
8 Gemma LaGuardia Gluck: A Jewish American 109
9 Jewish Evacuees Arrive from Auschwitz 121
10 Late Arrivals from Other Camps 137
11 The Satellite Work Camps 151
12 Malchow and the Death Marches 166
13 Rescue to Seden 178
14 Reconstructing Lives in the Aftermath 189
15 Gender and Women's Bodies 204
Epilogue: Ravensbruck Still on My Mind 217
Appendix The Jewish Ravensbruck Survivors 228
Notes 231
Selected Reference List 259
Index 269
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