women in such faraway places as Paraguay, Shanghai, or New York. Furthermore, the league intended to organize its members abroad so that they could extend aid to newly arrived refugees. Yet, as already mentioned, the league remained dissatisfied with the slow rate at which women emigrated. 94
After the November pogrom, the league was ordered dissolved. Its treasury and institutions were absorbed into the Central Organization of German Jews, and its leaders joined the staff of that organization. Although many of these women had opportunities to emigrate (many had accompanied children out of the country only to return), they chose to continue their work for the Jewish community. Their duties became more difficult and depressing. In July 1942, Hannah Karminski, former executive secretary of the League of Jewish Women, wrote a friend: "This work can no longer give any satisfaction. It hardly has anything to do with what we understood 'social work' to mean . . . but, because one continues to work with people, once in a while there are moments in which being here seems to make sense."95 Most of these women were deported in 1942 and became victims of Hitler's war against the Jews.
German Jewish women had lived in familiar, comfortable surroundings until these had turned hostile and murderous, like a grotesque dream. Their roles as housewives and mothers sharpened their alertness to danger, helping some plan for the future. Others, confronted with the increasing dreadfulness of daily life, uncomprehending children, escalating deprivation and anxiety, and the loss of friends tried to manage as best they could. They were able to resist complete despondency through family and social networks. They had to manage the proverbial double burden of employment and housework, and, indeed, a triple burden when one adds escalating emotional caretaking. In addition, many volunteered to work with women's organizations, which attempted to alleviate some of the practical and psychological stress within a community suddenly impoverished, ostracized, and torn apart by the emigration of its loved ones. In the limited time and space allotted them and with the restricted means at their disposal, women's organizations encouraged job retraining, emigration, and self-help and attempted to boost morale and a positive Jewish consciousness. Needless to say, neither organizations nor individuals were able to withstand the force of state persecution and terror or to prevent the annihilation of the Jewish community in Germany and the rest of Europe.
I would like to thank the following groups for their careful reading of earlier versions of this essay: the German Women's History Study Group, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Conference on 'Women in Dark Times," and the Columbia University Seminar on Women and Society. I would also like to thank Renate Bridenthal, Douglas Morris, Monika Richarz, and Sydney Weinberg for their scrupulous reading and supportive criticisms.