Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust

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

3
Charlotte Delbo

Women and children first, they are the most exhausted. After that the men. They are also weary but relieved that their women and children should go first. For women and children go first.

CHARLOTTE DELBO

She was not Jewish, but French: a novelist, dramatist, poet, and intellectual. When she died on March 1, 1985, her obituary drew attention to her literary achievements. Charlotte Delbo, however, was also an Auschwitz survivor, and that achievement marked her life even more. As literary critic Lawrence L. Langer says, Delbo made "atrocity the substance as well as the subject of her art." Reimagined rather than imagined, the reality she wrote about was something she could never forget.

On September 3, 1939, two days after Hitler's army invaded Poland, France declared war on Germany. Eight months of inaction followed: It was the time of la drôle guerre, "the funny war." Then, on May 12, 1940, Germany invaded France. Four days later, the aging hero of World War I, Marshal Henri-Philippe Pétain, took over as head of the French government. He quickly asked for an armistice, which was signed at Compiègne on June 22. French collaboration resulted in a two-zone division of the country. The northern two-thirds, including Paris, was occupied directly by the Nazis; southern France, with governmental headquarters at the resort town of Vichy, was left unoccupied until early November 1942. Under these arrangements, the Germans allowed a French government, led by Pétain and then by Pierre Laval, to remain in place in exchange for its cooperation, which included financial exploitation that benefited Germany, labor brigades sent to work in German industry, and punitive measures against Jews.

Delbo was in Brazil with the great French director Louis Jouvet's theater company

-58-

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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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