Somewhere amid the forests of Bohemia a birch tree bends its golden hair toward a reddish ruin.
In mourning, hands clasped at its chest.
And yet the bluebells dance around its feet,
And colored cow-wheat smiles upon the powerless dungeon tower, while grasses idle mournfully on buried walks.
Bright coppers flutter past the fallen, sunlit walls of vanished generations.
As one excavates what Ida Fink called "the ruins of memory," certain images and persons, events and phrases, become emblematic of women and the Holocaust. There is Lulu, that "practical woman" who helped Charlotte Delbo survive Auschwitz when she thought "none of us will return." There is the blanket that Sara Nomberg-Przytyk received from a caring woman during a freezing evacuation from Auschwitz. Or one might recall Theresa Stangl, wife of Treblinka's commandant, or Magda Trocmé, who saved Jews from the fate that Nazi Germany intended all of them to have. One thinks, too, of Myrna Goldenberg's "different horrors, same hell," four words that sum up what women experienced during the "Final Solution." Gertrud Kolmar's question--"You hear me speak. But do you hear me feel?"--is heard and felt as well.
Epitomizing what happened to women during the Holocaust, another episode with power to grip memory in those ways occurred in Auschwitz-