Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust

By Carol Rittner; John K. Roth | Go to book overview

Prologue
WOMEN AND THE HOLOCAUST

So then, to tell my story, here I stand. . . .
You hear me speak. But do you hear me, feel?

GERTRUD KOLMAR

The Holocaust was Nazi Germany's planned total destruction of the Jewish people and the actual murder of nearly six million of them. 1 This genocidal campaign--the most systematic, bureaucratic, and unrelenting ever--also destroyed millions of non-Jewish civilians because the Nazis believed their threat to the Third Reich approached, though it could never equal, that posed by Jews. 2 In German this destruction process became known as die Endlösung--the "Final Solution." The Hebrew word Shoah, meaning catastrophe, also is frequently used to name it. One result of the Shoah was that millions of women, the vast majority of them Jewish, perished during its devastation.

Among the women who did not return was a Jewish poet named Gertrud Kolmar. Her words provide the epigraph for this book and the thematic preludes for its various parts as well. 3 Kolmar wanted "to tell my story." Her poems made a brilliant start, but her life ended before she could finish the telling. The wound of this interrupted life stays unhealed, but not only because the exact date of Kolmar's death in Auschwitz, the camp to which she was almost certainly deported from Berlin during the winter of 1943, remains unknown. The disaster that ruined her life has even more to do with the immeasurable loss Nazi Germany inflicted by decreeing that women such as Gertrud Kolmar must be destroyed.

-1-

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Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • ALSO BY CAROL RITTNER AND JOHN K. ROTH ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps and Photographs ix
  • Preface xi
  • Prologue Women and the Holocaust 1
  • General Suggestions for Further Reading 20
  • Chronology 22
  • Part One Voices of Experience 35
  • Notes 39
  • 1: Ida Fink 40
  • 2: Etty Hillesum 46
  • Notes 57
  • 3: Charlotte Delbo 58
  • 4: Isabella Leitner 65
  • 5: Olga Lengyel 69
  • 6: Livia E. Bitton Jackson 73
  • 7: Pelagia Lewinska 84
  • 8: Charlotte Delbo 99
  • 9: Gisella Perl 104
  • 10: Olga Lengyel 119
  • 11: Anna Heilman and Rose Meth 130
  • Notes 134
  • Notes 141
  • 12: Sara Nomberg-Przytyk 143
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 149
  • Part Two Voices of Interpretation 155
  • Notes 159
  • 13: Gisela Bock 161
  • Notes 179
  • 14: Marion A. Kaplan 187
  • Notes 207
  • 15: Sybil Milton 213
  • Notes 237
  • 16: Vera Laska 250
  • Notes 267
  • 17: Gitta Sereny 270
  • Preface 271
  • 18: Claudia Koonz 287
  • Notes 304
  • 19: Magda Trocmeé 309
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 317
  • Part Three Voices of Reflection 319
  • Notes 323
  • 20: Irena Klepfisz 324
  • 21: Charlotte Delbo 328
  • 22: Ida Fink 332
  • 23: Deborah E. Lipstadt 349
  • 24: Mary Jo Leddy 355
  • 25: Rachel Altman 363
  • Notes 372
  • 26: Joan Ringelheim 373
  • Notes 400
  • Appendices 406
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 419
  • Epilogue - Different Voices 421
  • Notes 426
  • Glossary 427
  • Index 431
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