Gender and Destiny: Women Writers and the Holocaust

By Marlene E. Heinemann | Go to book overview

I
FEMALE-CENTERED THEMES: ANATOMY AND DESTINY

Many writers of the Holocaust, both survivors and non-survivors, deny the significance of a specifically female experience of the Holocaust. No one articulates the overall view of universal vulnerability better than Mary Ellman, author of Thinking About Women, who sees in the mass annihilations of World War II the death blow to the traditional concept of sex roles.

In the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in the murder of six million Jewish men, women and children in Europe, in the same manner and for the same cause, without distinctions in age, sex or responsibility (all were equally responsible for being alive and human), the modern concept of mutual vulnerability was established, before which the traditional sexual contrasts of strength and weakness, courage and timidity, authority and subservience became meaningless. 1

The Nazis' intention and the Jews' and Gypsies' overriding experience is mass genocide. Other writers come to essentially the same conclusion in discussing the treatment of all inmates in the camps. Anna Pawełczyńska, a Polish survivor and sociologist, says that all former sexual distinctions based upon social and biological roles, the division of labor, and forms of respect were eliminated: "traces of these distinctions were only reflected in extra possibilities for tormenting and humiliating prisoners." 2

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Gender and Destiny: Women Writers and the Holocaust
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 11
  • I Female-Centered Themes: Anatomy and Destiny 13
  • Notes 35
  • II Characterization in Holocaust Narratives 39
  • Notes 77
  • III Inmate Relations in Holocaust Narratives 81
  • Notes 113
  • IV Authenticity 117
  • Notes 134
  • Bibliography 137
  • Index 143
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