Women in the Holocaust

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As Jews throughout Europe faced Nazi persecution, Jewish women-wives, daughters, mothers-encountered special problems and had particular vulnerabilities. This is the first book of original scholarship devoted to women in the Holocaust. Testimonies of Holocaust survivors and chapters by eminent historians, sociologists, and literary experts shed light on women's lives in the ghettos, the Jewish resistance movement, and the concentration camps. By examining women's unique responses, their incredible resourcefulness, their courage and their suffering, the book enhances our understanding of the experiences of all Jews during the Nazi era.

"A pioneering book."-Saul Friedländer, UCLA and Tel Aviv University

"The cutting edge of Holocaust Studies."-Wall Street Journal

"A major contribution to our understanding."-Times (London)

"An excellent book that shows how the study of gender can deepen our understanding of the Holocaust."-Michael Berenbaum, President, Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation

"The astonishing strengths and resilience of women in these studies seem to rise out."-Forward

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Editorial Reviews

Deborah Lipstadt
[A] valuable collection [that] makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Holocaust history. -- Lilith
A moving collection that includes personal accounts from Holocaust survivors. ,
Brill's Content
Deborah Lipstadt
A significant contribution to our understanding of Holocaust history.
Kirkus Reviews
A valuable collection of 21 articles by leading historians, sociologists, writers, literary scholars, and survivors. Ofer (Contemporary Jewish History/Hebrew Univ., Israel) and Weitzman (Sociology and Law/George Mason Univ.) divide their book into four sections: on life before the war, life in the ghettos, resistance and rescue, and labor and concentration camps. Two contributors express reservations about including women as a subcategory of Holocaust studies at all; they are answered by historian Joan Ringelheim's observation that "Jewish women carried the burdens of sexual victimization, pregnancy, abortion, childbirth, killing of newborn babies in the camps to save the mothers, care of children, and many decisions about separation from children." A fine piece by German historian Gisela Bock on "Ordinary Women in Nazi Germany" notes that females in the Third Reich performed almost all the political and administrative roles that their male counterparts did, thus countering Claudia Koontz's hypothesis that they occupied a "separate sphere." Particularly valuable are several memoirs by survivors about daily conditions and coping mechanisms in labor, concentration and death camps. And in a review of three memoirs by Auschwitz survivors, literary scholar Myrna Goldenberg notes how women formed emotional support networks, known as "camp sisters," while men tended to be more isolated. This is not the first collection of its kind, but it does bring together a particularly impressive interdisciplinary group from the US, Europe and Israel. It also reveals how much scholarly work remains to be done. It would be useful, for instance, to have some detailed comparative studies of male versusfemale behavior and to learn more about topics left uncovered here. Still what is included in Ofer's and Weitzman's collection is substantial and will help readers appreciate how gender sometimes significantly influenced an individual's fate during the Holocaust.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300080803
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 414
  • Sales rank: 1,320,585
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Role of Gender in the Holocaust 1
1 Gender and the Jewish Family in Modern Europe 25
2 Keeping Calm and Weathering the Storm: Jewish Women's Responses to Daily Life in Nazi Germany, 1933-1939 39
3 The Missing 52 Percent: Research on Jewish Women in Interwar Poland and Its Implications for Holocaust Studies 55
4 Women in the Jewish Labor Bund in Interwar Poland 68
5 Ordinary Women in Nazi Germany: Perpetrators, Victims, Followers, and Bystanders 85
6 The Grodno Ghetto and Its Underground: A Personal Narrative 109
7 The Key Game 120
8 The Status and Plight of Women in the Lodz Ghetto 123
9 Gender Issues in Diaries and Testimonies of the Ghetto: The Case of Warsaw 143
10 In the Ghetto and in the Resistance: A Personal Narrative 175
11 Living on the Aryan Side in Poland: Gender, Passing, and the Nature of Resistance 187
12 Women among the Forest Partisans 223
13 Women in the French-Jewish Underground: Shield-Bearers of the Resistance? 234
14 Gisi Fleischmann 253
15 One Year in the Black Hole of Our Planet Earth: A Personal Narrative 273
16 Women in the Forced-Labor Camps 285
17 Women in Theresienstadt and the Family Camp in Birkenau 310
18 Memoirs of Auschwitz Survivors: The Burden of Gender 327
19 The Split between Gender and the Holocaust 340
20 Gendered Suffering? Women in Holocaust Testimonies 351
21 Women in Holocaust Literature: Engendering Trauma Memory 364
List of Contributors 379
Index 385
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