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As Jews throughout Europe faced Nazi persecution, Jewish women--wives, daughters, mothers--encountered special problems and had particular vulnerabilities. This is the first book of original scholarship devoted to women in the Holocaust. By examining women's unique responses, their incredible resourcefulness, their courage, and their suffering, the book enhances our understanding of the experiences of all Jews during the Nazi era. The introductory essay by Lenore Weitzman and Dalia Ofer stakes out new intellectual territory and shows how questions about gender lead to a richer and more finely nuanced understanding of the Holocaust. Testimonies of Holocaust survivors, written especially for this book, shed light on women's lives in the ghettos, the Jewish resistance movement, and the concentration camps. The narratives personalize and exemplify many of the larger themes explored in other chapters by Holocaust historians, sociologists, and literary experts. These chapters explore the variety and complexity of gender differences during the Holocaust. The culturally defined prewar roles of Jewish men and women endowed them with different spheres of knowledge, expertise, and skills with which to face the Nazi onslaught. During the war the Nazis imposed different regulations, work requirements, and sanctions on the two sexes. Women had to assume new roles as family protectors during the ghetto period, when men were more vulnerable. In contrast women, and especially mothers, were more vulnerable in the concentration camps. The detailed portraits of women in these chapters show us their individuality, strength, and humanity. Contributors to this volume: Gershon Bacon Yehuda Bauer Daniel Blatman Gisela Bock Ruth Bondy Liza Chapnik Ida Fink Myrna Goldenberg Sara R. Horowitz Paula E. Hyman Marion Kaplan Felicja Karay Bronka Klibansk Lawrence L. Langer Dalia Ofer Renee Poznanski Joan Ringelheim Nechama Tec Michal Unger Lidia Rosenfeld Vago Lenore J. Weitzman

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300080803
ISBN-10: 0300080808
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 23mm)
Pages: 414
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 5-Oct-1999
Country of Publication: United States

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Reviews

US Kirkus Review » A valuable collection of 21 articles by leading historians, sociologists, writers, literary scholars, and survivors. Ofer (Contemporary Jewish History/Hebrew Univ., Israel) and Weitzman (Sociology and Law/George Mason Univ.) divide their book into four sections: on life before the war, life in the ghettos, resistance and rescue, and labor and concentration camps. Two contributors express reservations about including women as a subcategory of Holocaust studies at all; they are answered by historian Joan Ringelheim's observation that "Jewish women carried the burdens of sexual victimization, pregnancy, abortion, childbirth, killing of newborn babies in the camps to save the mothers, care of children, and many decisions about separation from children." A fine piece by German historian Gisela Bock on "Ordinary Women in Nazi Germany" notes that females in the Third Reich performed almost all the political and administrative roles that their male counterparts did, thus countering Claudia Koontz's hypothesis that they occupied a "separate sphere." Particularly valuable are several memoirs by survivors about daily conditions and coping mechanisms in labor, concentration and death camps. And in a review of three memoirs by Auschwitz survivors, literary scholar Myrna Goldenberg notes how women formed emotional support networks, known as "camp sisters," while men tended to be more isolated. This is not the first collection of its kind, but it does bring together a particularly impressive interdisciplinary group from the US, Europe and Israel. It also reveals how much scholarly work remains to be done. It would be useful, for instance, to have some detailed comparative studies of male versus female behavior and to learn more about topics left uncovered here. Still what is included in Ofer's and Weitzman's collection is substantial and will help readers appreciate how gender sometimes significantly influenced an individual's fate during the Holocaust. (Kirkus Reviews)


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