Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust

By Carol Rittner; John K. Roth | Go to book overview
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24
Mary Jo Leddy

It is my conviction that the "different voices" of women in the Holocaust call us, summon us, to exercise a different kind of power today.

MARY Jo LEDDY

Several times this book has referred to Danuta Czech Auschwitz Chronicle. Day by dreary day, its more than eight hundred pages record what went on in that camp of death. If you open the book at random, there are likely to be entries akin to these for February 3-4, 1943: "Nos. 99792-99865 are assigned to 74 prisoners. . . . The corpses of 43 prisoners are delivered to the morgue of the main camp. . . . 1,000 Jewish men, women, and children arrive. . . . Following the selection, 181 men, given Nos. 99915-100095, and 106 women, given Nos. 34183-34288, are admitted to the camp. The other 713 people are killed in the gas chambers."

Czech's Chronicle makes a crucial fact abundantly clear. It is something that Hedwig Höss, Theresa Stangl, Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, and other Nazi women knew. So did Ida Fink, Etty Hillesum, Charlotte Delbo, Gertrud Kolmar, and countless other voices of experience. So does Mary Jo Leddy. The Holocaust was about power and powerlessness. It demonstrated what can happen when sufficient power gets placed in the hands of those who are hell-bent on dominating and destroying those who are essentially defenseless.

Humanitarian, philosopher, theologian, Mary Jo Leddy is a Roman Catholic, a member of a religious order called the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion. She is an accomplished writer and editor, but often her work with words gets interrupted because of her work with refugees whom she helps, with powerless people whom she strives to empower. Her speaking voice is gentle, and no one would mistake it for a

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