Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust

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

The numbers begin to show a stark and disturbing reality. It can no longer be doubted that being male or female mattered during the Holocaust. Sexism attended antisemitism during the Holocaust, as it attends all forms of racism and, of course, exists even where there is no racism. Antisemitism, racism, and sexism were not separated in the theory of the Nazis or in their practice--nor was sexism absent from the responses of the Jewish community. Sexism, the division of social roles according to biological function, placed women at an extreme disadvantage during the Holocaust. It deprived them of skills that might have enabled more of them to survive. At the same time, the group that was supposed to protect them--men--was not able to do so.

It was the search about numbers of victims by gender that framed the research following the publication of my earlier article in Signs. It also helped to drive the themes for my recently drafted but as yet unpublished book, Double Jeopardy: Women and the Holocaust. So much work on women and the Holocaust remains to be done. What has been researched thus far merely touches the surface of a complex and difficult field of study.

Washington, D.C.

1992


NOTES

The research for this article was partially supported by a Kent Fellowship, Wesleyan University, and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship. Parts of this article were written for the conference "Communities of Women" sponsored by Signs and the Center for Research on Women at Stanford University, February 1983, and the Sixth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, June 1984. I want to thank the following people for reading versions of this article, for listening, criticizing, and supporting the work: Pamela Armstrong, Marylin Arthur, Mary Felstiner, Joy Johannessen, Sally Hanley, Esther Katz, Eva Fleischner, Susan Cernyak-Spatz, Irene Eber, Nancy McKenzie. I especially want to thank Ti-Grace Atkinson, whose honesty, insight, and friendship helped me to see, to cut through a wall I was up against, and to continue.

1.
The first conference on women and the Holocaust took place in March 1983 at Stern College. It was funded by the New York Council for the Humanities and sponsored by the Institute for Research in History. See Proceedings of the Conference, Women Surviving: The Holocaust, ed. Esther Katz and Joan Miriam Ringelheim ( New York: Institute for Research in History, 1983) (hereafter Proceedings of the Conference). See Joan Miriam Ringelheim, "The Unethical and the Unspeakable: Women and the Holocaust," Simon Wiesenthal Annual ( 1984): 69-87; "Communities in Distress: Women and the Holocaust" (Institute for Research in History, 1982, typescript); "Resources and Vulnerabilities" (Institute for Research in History, 1983, typescript); and "Thoughts about Women and the Holocaust," in Thinking the Unthinkable: Meanings of the Holocaust, ed. Roger S.Gottlieb

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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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