In their formulation of the “Final Solution,” National Socialist leaders did not distinguish between Jewish men and women. While they initially targeted Jewish men for arrest and deportation, their attentions soon turned to all Jews, male and female, adult and child, Orthodox and secular. In this wave of events later known as “the Holocaust,” however, individual experiences varied, and in particular, women often lived and died differently than men.
Biological, psychological, sociological, and other differences left women at times more vulnerable to beatings, rape, forced abortions, and exploitation. Women with children were often killed first. But women’s differences also gave them certain advantages for survival. Because circumcision did not reveal their Jewishness, women could pass as non-Jewish more readily. Women coped with hunger differently and often provided mutual support to each other in the unsanitary and overcrowded camps.
It is with these and other differences in mind that scholars have turned to studying women’s unique experiences in the Holocaust, examining how women’s place in European society and their own enculturation and socialization exposed them to greater risk or prepared them to cope better in the midst of such terror and deprivation. These studies have looked at women under varying circumstances: in the ghettos and camps, in the resistance, in hiding, and as refugees. Because non-Jewish women were also caught up by the Nazi regime, scholars have also examined women’s lives in Nazi Germany, such as Nazi supporters, collaborators, perpetrators, resistors, and rescuers.
The following bibliography was compiled to guide readers to selected materials on women during the Holocaust that are in the Library’s collection. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Annotations are provided to help the user determine the item’s focus, and call numbers for the Museum’s Library are given in parentheses following each citation. Those unable to visit might be able to find these works in a nearby public library or acquire them through interlibrary loan. Follow the “Find in a library near you” link in each citation and enter your zip code at the Open WorldCat search screen. The results of that search indicate all libraries in your area that own that particular title. Talk to your local librarian for assistance.
In the Holocaust
Baer, Elizabeth R., and Myrna Goldenberg, editors. Experience and Expression: Women, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2003. (D 804.47 .E86 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Interdisciplinary collection of essays covering an array of topics relating to the study of gender and the Holocaust. Essay subjects include the persecution of Roma and Sinti women, forced labor, the role of nurses in the Nazi involuntary euthanasia program, women in rescue and resistance movements, and postwar expressions of the experiences of women in art, fiction, and film.
Baumel, Judith Tydor. Double Jeopardy: Gender and the Holocaust. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 1998. (D 804.47 .B38 1998) [Find in a library near you]
A collection of historical essays illuminating the factors that shaped the lives of Jewish women during and after the Holocaust. Comprised of seven sections focusing on different aspects of the treatment of gender and identity in Holocaust studies, including the fellowship and resistance of women in the camps and their postwar role in DP camp organizations. Concludes with an epilogue and an extensive bibliography of sources and studies dealing with various gender-related aspects of the Holocaust.
Bendremer, Jutta T. Women Surviving the Holocaust: In Spite of the Horror. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997. (D 804.47 .B46 1997) [Find in a library near you]
Collects the testimonies of ten anonymous female Holocaust survivors who each settled in the Akron, Ohio area, recounting their wartime experiences and their postwar adjustment to life as immigrants in America. Based on research gathered through interviews and a questionnaire. Appends the questionnaire, a list of the interview questions, and a summary of basic information regarding each survivor.
Bernadac, Christian. Women’s Kommandos. Geneva: Ferni Publishing House, 1978. (D 805 .G3 B4737913 1978) [Find in a library near you]
A collection of personal narratives focusing on nineteen of the principal prisoner detachments associated with the women’s camp at Ravensbrück. Describes the work and living conditions in the various labor camps and factories in which these women were imprisoned and forced to work, including Beendorf, Gartenfeld, Genthin, Hanover-Limmer, Neubrandenburg, Torgau, and Zwodau. Includes some photographs.
Buber Agassi, Judith. The Jewish Women Prisoners of Ravensbrück: Who Were They? Oxford: Oneworld, 2007. (D 805.5 .R38 B83 2007) [Find in a library near you]
Comprehensive analysis of the prisoner population of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Traces the evolving nature of the prisoner population during the war, including the arrival of prisoners of various nationalities and ages. Includes charts summarizing extensive statistical analysis of the prisoner population as well as a CD-ROM listing the names and basic data about all known Jewish women in the camp.
Buonagurio, Frank, and Beile Delechky. The Last Bright Days: A Young Woman's Life in a Lithuanian Shtetl on the Eve of the Holocaust. New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 2011. (DS 135 .L52 K28 2011). [Find in a library near you]
Uses personal photographs taken by Beile Delechky and excerpts from her journals and poetry to create a portrait of daily life in her hometown, the Lithuanian shtetl of Kavarsk, which she left for America in 1938.
Choko, Isabelle, et al. Stolen Youth: Five Women’s Survival in the Holocaust. New York: Holocaust Survivors’ Memoirs Project, 2005. (D 804.195 .S86 2005) [Find in a library near you]
Presents five separate memoirs by women who survived the Holocaust. Describes life in the ghettos, in the labor and death camps, the death march to Mauthausen, and liberation. Includes numerous photographs.
Clementi, Federica K. Holocaust Mothers & Daughters: Family, History, and Trauma. Waltheim, Mass: Brandeis University Press, 2013. (D 804.47 .C54 2013). [Find in a library near you]
Contains six memoirs each exploring the individual relationships between the author and her mother before, during, and after the Holocaust and how their experiences affected these bonds. Includes notes, bibliography, and index. The survivors included are Edith Bruck, Ruth Klüger, Sarah Kofman, Milena Roth, Helena Janeczek, and Anne Frank.
Eibeschitz, Jehoshua, and Anna Eilenberg-Eibeshitz. Women in the Holocaust: A Collection of Testimonies. Brooklyn: Remember, 1993. (D 810 .W6 W66 1993) [Find in a library near you]
Gathers the testimonies of thirty Israeli Holocaust survivors into two volumes, grouped according to those who survived in the camps, in the ghettos or in hiding. Recounts the sufferings and travails of young women who, in many cases, were the only members of their families to survive. Translated from the Hebrew.
Eibuszyc, Suzanna. Memory is Our Home: Loss and Remembering: Three Generations in Poland and Russia 1917-1960s. Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag, 2015. (DS 134.72 .T344 E53 2015). [Find in a library near you]
Biographical memoir based on the diaries of Roma Talasiewicz-Eibuszyc, translated by her daughter Suzanna Eibuszyc. Recounts Roma’s life in Warsaw and how she escaped from Nazi atrocities by escaping to Soviet Russia and Uzbekistan. Includes family genealogy, recommended books, and acknowledgements.
Ford, Carole Bell. After the Girls Club: How Teenaged Holocaust Survivors Built New Lives in America. Lanham, Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 2010. (F 128.9 .J5 F63 2010). [Find in a library near you]
Describes how the Girls Club of Brooklyn, New York became a safe place for orphaned teenage Holocaust survivors following World War II. Explores not only the survival stories of the women, but also the manner in which the club allowed these survivors to find healing and friendship as they attempted to rebuild their lives after the horrific actions of the Nazi regime during World War II. Includes notes, bibliography, and index.
Fuchs, Esther, editor. Women and the Holocaust: Narrative and Representation. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1999. (D 804.47 .W65 1999) [Find in a library near you]
Collects 11 essays exploring various aspects of women’s experiences in the ghettos and concentration camps and how they have been represented in poetry and film. Individual essays cover topics including reproductive choices as a form of resistance, the experiences of lesbians in the Third Reich, and the poetry of Nelly Sachs.
Gaitanos, Sarah. The Violinist: Clare Galambos Winter, Holocaust Survivor. Wellington New Zealand: Victoria University Press, 2011. (DS 135 .H93 W56 2011). [Find in a library near you]
Relates the true story of Clare Galambos, a violin student in Budapest who was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. Based on interviews with the survivor, it chronicles her time in Budapest, as a prisoner in Birkenau, her transfer to Münchmühle in 1944, and her experience performing for SS officers in the camp. Also chronicles her time as a member of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra after the war. Includes endnotes, a bibliography, and index.
Gelissen, Rena Kornreich, and Heather Dune Macadam. Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz. Boston: Beacon Press, 2015. (D 805 .P7 G45 2015). [Find in a library near you]
Chronicles the story of Rena Kornreich and her sister Danka, who were transported from Tylicz, Poland to Auschwitz-Birkenau in March 1942. Recounts how the sisters survived the concentration camp for over three years, overcoming starvation, sickness, and the death march of 1945. Includes a bibliography and a study guide.
Goldenberg, Myrna. “Different Horrors, Same Hell: Women Remembering the Holocaust.” In Thinking the Unthinkable: Meanings of the Holocaust, edited by Roger S. Gottlieb, 150-166. New York: Paulist Press, 1990. (D 804.3 .T49 1990) [Find in a library near you]
A brief gender study of Holocaust literature, using personal narratives to explore the differences in women’s and men’s Holocaust experiences. Examines the variations in themes addressed, incidents related, and the degree of vulnerability acknowledged. Also highlights different approaches to survival and resistance in the camps.
Goldenberg, Myrna. “Lessons Learned from Gentle Heroism: Women’s Holocaust Narratives.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 548 (1996): 78-93. (Subject File) [Find in a library near you]
Examines memoirs written by female Holocaust survivors to identify common themes of communal help, cooperation, and a sense of being a “double victim” of a misogynistic and antisemitic regime.
Gurewitsch, Brana, editor. Mothers, Sisters, Resisters: Oral Histories of Women who Survived the Holocaust. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998. (D 804.47 .M67 1998) [Find in a library near you]
Twenty-five first-person accounts of the Holocaust by women who survived in hiding, in the camps, or through some form of resistance. Groups the stories into sections focused on the women’s roles as mothers, sisters (or “camp sisters”), and resistors. Explores how women faced the special challenges and vulnerabilities of being a parent during the Holocaust. Describes the sustaining relationships that developed between women, siblings or not, when faced with the horrors of the camps. Highlights the many ways both Jewish and non-Jewish women took action against the Nazis. Includes photographs, end notes, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.
Herz, Gabriele. The Women’s Camp in Moringen: A Memoir of Imprisonment in Germany, 1936-1937. New York: Berghahn Books, 2006. (D 805.5 .M67 H47 2006) [Find in a library near you]
English translation of the memoirs of a German Jewish woman who was sent to the women’s camp at Moringen, at a time when most of the inmates there were political prisoners or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Contains Herz’s detailed observations of her fellow inmates and life in the camp. Includes a bibliography, an index, and a brief history of Moringen written by historian Jane Caplan.
Karay, Felicja. Hasag-Leipzig Slave Labour Camp for Women: The Struggle for Survival, Told by Women and their Poetry. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2002. (D 805.5 .H38 K3713 2002) [Find in a library near you]
Describes the history of the Hasag-Leipzig forced labor camp, the largest women’s auxiliary sub-camp of Buchenwald. Combines in-depth historical analysis with personal observations of the author, who was a survivor of the camp, and examples of poetry and other writings by prisoners. Includes photographs, document reproductions, a bibliography, and an index.
Katz, Esther, and Joan Miriam Ringelheim. Proceedings of the Conference on Women Surviving: The Holocaust. New York: Institute for Research in History, 1983. (D 810 .J4 C654 1983) [Find in a library near you]
Contains the transcripts of the formal presentations and panel sessions from the 1983 conference held at Stern College in New York City. Surveys the role of women in ghettos, camps, and resistance activities. Recounts a majority of the discussions held at open forums involving survivors, scholars, and other conference attendees.
Kubica, Helena. Pregnant Women and Children Born in Auschwitz. Oświęcim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2010. (D 805.5 .A96 .K8313 2010). [Find in a library near you]
Draws from camp records and survivor testimonies in the archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum to explore the experience of pregnant women in the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, including the experiments conducted upon them and the enduring psychological and physical scars of the survivors. Includes photographs and bibliographical references.
Loridan, Marceline, Judith Perrignon, and Sandra Smith. But You Did Not Come Back. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2016. (D 805.5 .B57 L6713 2016). [Find in a library near you]
Autobiographical account of Marceline Loridan-Ivens experiences, recounting her arrest at age 15 along with her father in the Vaucluse of Nazi-occupied France and their subsequent internment in concentration camps, the father in Auschwitz and Marceline in Birkenau. Written as a letter to her father, who died in the Auschwitz concentration camp, the author reflects on her father’s death, her unending grief, and the current state of antisemitism in Europe.
Miller, Joy Erlichman. Love Carried Me Home: Women Surviving Auschwitz. Deerfield Beach, FL: Simcha Press, 2000. (D 804.47 .M55 2000) [Find in a library near you]
Probes the importance of emotional bonding and affiliation to the survival of sixteen women prisoners at Auschwitz, suggesting that love and human connection notably enhanced their resiliency. Drawn from research into the coping strategies of Holocaust survivors as revealed in oral history testimonies. Includes a glossary, chronology, bibliography, and index.
Morrison, Jack G. Ravensbrück: Everyday Life in a Women’s Concentration Camp, 1939-45. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2000. (D 805 .G3 M6143 2000) [Find in a library near you]
Chronicles the daily existence of the prisoners at Ravensbrück, a women’s camp established in 1939 north of Berlin. Details the prisoners’ health and nutritional concerns, as well as the forced labor, punishments, and executions to which they were subjected. Based on the archival holdings of the memorial museum at Ravensbrück and interviews with survivors. Illustrated with photos from the camp, along with drawings by camp inmates created both during and after their imprisonment. Includes maps, end notes, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.
Ofer, Dalia, and Lenore J. Weitzman, editors. Women in the Holocaust. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998. (D 804.47 .W66 1998) [Find in a library near you]
A collection of twenty-one essays on both Jewish and non-Jewish women in the Holocaust. Examines how women’s roles before the Nazis came to power shaped how they responded to the onslaught of the Holocaust. Describes women’s experiences in the ghettos, in the camps, and among resistance groups. Also discusses a variety of gender-specific issues, such as rape, pregnancy, abortion, and family health. Includes both scholarly works and personal narratives.
Oren, Ram. Gertruda's Oath: A Child, a Promise, and a Heroic Escape During World War II. New York: Doubleday, 2009. (DS 134.72 .S76 O7413 2009). [Find in a library near you]
Describes the true story of young Polish Jew Michael Stolowitzky from Warsaw and his Roman Catholic nanny Gertruda Bablińksa, who promised Michael’s dying mother that she would care for the boy and take him to safety, arriving in Tel Aviv after an arduous journey in 1948. Gertruda and Michael moved to Jaffa a few months after arriving and remained in Israel after the War. Gertruda was named a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1963. Includes bibliography.
Philipp, Grit. Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Frauen-Konzentrationslager Ravensbrück, 1939-1945. Berlin: Metropol, 1999. (Reference D 805.5 .R38 P55 1999) [Find in a library near you]
A day-by-day record of events in the women’s camp at Ravensbrück. Provides an historical overview for each year of the camp’s existence, a chronological list of transports into Ravensbrück—with supporting details—and a collection of photographs of the camp. Includes a map of the camp, a glossary of abbreviations and Nazi terminology, a bibliography, and a personal and geographical index. [German]
Ringelheim, Joan. “Thoughts about Women and the Holocaust.” In Thinking the Unthinkable: Meanings of the Holocaust, edited by Roger S. Gottlieb, 141-149. New York: Paulist Press, 1990. (D 804.3 .T49 1990) [Find in a library near you]
Examines the arguments for and against studying women during the Holocaust. Explains how antisemitism and sexism worked together to endanger women’s lives at a rate higher than that of men, pointing out the ways in which women’s lives were considered less valuable, even to the Jewish leadership in the ghettos. Also highlights basic differences between men’s and women’s Holocaust experiences.
Ringelheim, Joan. “The Unethical and the Unspeakable: Women and the Holocaust.” Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual 1 (1984): 69-87. (D 804.3 .S5953 1984 v. 1) [Find in a library near you]
Reviews the representation of women and the Holocaust in works by several leading historians and authors. Criticizes the analytical framework behind these studies, many of which did not treat the concentration camp experiences of women as unique from men. Examines the misconceptions created when the treatment of women in the camps is not viewed distinctly from that of men.
Rittner, Carol, and John K. Roth, editors. Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust. New York: Paragon House, 1993. (D 810 .W6 D54 1993) [Find in a library near you]
A collection of excerpts and interdisciplinary writings chronicling the experiences of women during the Holocaust and reflecting on the unique suffering women endured due to their gender. Includes personal testimonies, scholarly articles, and contemplative essays describing women’s responses to the difficult situations in which they found themselves, in hiding, in the camps, or as part of resistance groups. Includes contributions by Etty Hillesum, Charlotte Delbo, Olga Lengyel, Gisela Bok, Sybil Milton, Deborah Lipstadt, and Joan Ringelheim.
Ritvo, Roger A., and Diane M. Plotkin, compilers. Sisters in Sorrow: Voices of Care in the Holocaust. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998. (D 804.47 .S57 1998) [Find in a library near you]
A compilation of a dozen personal narratives by women regarding medical attention, or the lack thereof, in the ghettos and camps. Also describes the general living conditions in the camps, including the poor nutrition, lack of sanitation, insufficient clothing or shelter, and rampant disease. Includes entries by doctors and nurses who secretly provided medical care or who worked in the camp infirmaries. Includes a few illustrations, end notes, a lengthy bibliography, and an index.
Roth, Marika. All the Pretty Shoes. Deadwood, Oregon: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, 2011. (DS 135 .H93 R684 2011). [Find in a library near you]
Author relates how as a twelve-year old she witnessed and managed to escape the 1945 execution of Jews in Budapest on the banks of the Danube River, as well as how she survived World War II. Includes photographs.
Saidel, Rochelle G. The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2004. (D 804.47 .S35 2004) [Find in a library near you]
Detailed exploration of the lives of women in Ravensbrück, with emphasis on personal testimonies from survivors. Provides a chronological overview of the history and development of the camp by describing the experiences of over 60 women, based on interviews, personal accounts, and archival documentation. Includes numerous photographs, a selected bibliography, and an index.
Schwertfeger, Ruth. Women of Theresienstadt: Voices from a Concentration Camp. New York: Berg, 1989. (D 805.5 .T54 S39 1989) [Find in a library near you]
Attempts to create a collective memory for the women of Theresienstadt through the collection and analysis of literary texts, including songs, poems, and memoirs, written during or after imprisonment. Introduces some literature translated into English for the first time. Includes a collection of poems by survivor Else Dormitzer, a bibliography, and an index.
Shelley, Lore, editor. Auschwitz—the Nazi Civilization: Twenty-three Women Prisoners’ Accounts. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992. (D 805.5 .A96 A9659 1992) [Find in a library near you]
The complete testimonies of twenty-three female prisoners who worked in the staff offices of Auschwitz and its sub-camps, organized by the work detail to which they were assigned. Includes a glossary of common foreign words, biographical notes on the SS stationed at the camp, and the words and melody to the “Auschwitz Song.”
Shelley, Lore, editor. Criminal Experiments on Human Beings in Auschwitz and War Research Laboratories: Twenty Women Prisoners’ Accounts. San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press, 1991. (D 805.5 .A96 C75 1991) [Find in a library near you]
Contains testimonies of women who worked primarily in Rajsko and Block 10, the main locations for scientific experiments at the Auschwitz complex. Reproduces correspondence between the editor and the former SS physician, Dr. Hans Münch. Includes a small collection of illustrations of Auschwitz drawn by a survivor, as well as a glossary, a bibliography, and an index of named persons.
Tec, Nechama. Resilience and Courage: Women, Men, and the Holocaust. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003. (D 804.47 .T43 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Compares and contrasts the experiences of men and women during the Holocaust, including methods of coping with the brutality of life in the ghettos and camps. Based on diaries and memoirs, archival materials, and interviews with survivors. Contains an extensive bibliography and index.
Explore our comprehensive entries on the events, people, and places of the Holocaust.
In the Third Reich
Bridenthal, Renate, Atina Grossmann, and Marion Kaplan, editors. When Biology Became Destiny: Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1984. (HQ 1623 .W475 1984) [Find in a library near you]
A collection of essays analyzing the experiences of women in Weimar and Nazi Germany. Explores issues such as reproduction, family life, and feminism, along with the political and cultural factors that encouraged women’s self-sacrifice and overall subjugation to the state. Addresses issues of significance to both Jewish and non-Jewish women of the time. Includes contributions by Gisela Bock, Claudia Koonz, and Sybil Milton, as well as the editors. Supplemented by a lengthy historical introduction, photographs, and end notes.
Brown, Daniel Patrick. The Beautiful Beast: The Life & Crimes of SS-Aufseherin Irma Grese. Ventura, CA: Golden West Historical Publications, 1996. (D 805 .G3 B7459 1996) [Find in a library near you]
A short biography of Irma Grese, a Nazi concentration camp guard noted for her extreme cruelty. Traces her early life, her growing Nazi fanaticism, and her employment at the concentration camps at Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. Describes her treatment of the prisoners, and her arrest, trial, and execution following the war. Includes photographs, footnotes, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.
Brown, Daniel Patrick. The Camp Women: The Female Auxiliaries who Assisted the SS in Running the Nazi Concentration Camp System. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 2002. (Reference D 805 .A2 B76 2002) [Find in a library near you]
A list of the women who served as overseers in the Nazi concentration camp system. Identifies each guard by name and then provides, when available, her birthdate, birth place, position, file number, employment date, and location of camp service. Supplements this biographical data with a review of the circumstances under which women came to serve in the camps, describing their recruitment, training, and duty responsibilities, as well as the arrest and trial of many of them following the war. Also offers a descriptive and statistical analysis of the women as a group, along with forty-one photographs section. Includes maps, a bibliography, and an index.
Cosner, Shaaron, and Victoria Cosner. Women under the Third Reich: A Biographical Dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. (Reference HQ 1623 .C65 1998) [Find in a library near you]
Provides biographical information on approximately 100 women whose lives were shaped by the Nazi regime. Includes women from both sides of the Third Reich, from its supporters to its victims. Focuses primarily on women whose biography or autobiography is published and available in English. Includes appendices organizing the women by roles (artists, political dissidents, scientists, etc.) and country of origin. Also includes numerous photographs, a bibliography, and an index.
Harvey, Elizabeth. Women and the Nazi East: Agents and Witnesses of Germanization. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003. (DD 256.7 .H37 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Detailed exploration of the role of women in the “Germanization” of Poland and the eastern borderlands of the Third Reich. Discusses the extent to which women embraced Nazi racial policies as well as the involvement of women in Nazi education and family life in occupied areas. Includes an extensive bibliography and index.
Haste, Cate. Nazi Women: Hitler’s Seduction of a Nation. London: Channel 4, 2001. (DD 256.5 .H3252 2001) [Find in a library near you]
Explores the role of women in the Third Reich, from idealized “mothers of the nation” who were encouraged to have children to build an “Aryan” nation, to women who acted as secretaries and assistants to leading Nazi officials. Companion book to the Channel 4 (UK) series “Hitler’s Women” and “Hitler’s Brides.”
Joshi, Vandana. Gender and Power in the Third Reich: Female Denouncers and the Gestapo (1933-45). Houndmills, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. (DD 256.5 .J68 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Examines the actions of individuals who denounced or informed the Gestapo of their Jewish and anti-Nazi neighbors, spouses, and acquaintances. Also discusses sexual violence against foreign laborers by German camp directors. Includes an extensive bibliography and an index.
Koonz, Claudia. Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. (HQ 1623 .K66 1987) [Find in a library near you]
Explores the various roles of German women in the Third Reich as Nazi supporters, members of resistance groups, or targets of persecution. Examines the reasons women supported Nazism despite Hitler’s and the Party’s contempt for women. Also analyzes the contradiction of a regime that encouraged women into the role of creator and protector of an idyllic home life while leading Germany to the military, economic and social ruin that made such a life impossible to achieve. Includes eighteen photographs, detailed end notes, a lengthy bibliography, and an index.
Lower, Wendy. Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. (D 810 .W7 L69 2013). [Find in a library near you]
Explores women’s role in Nazi Germany, particularly those women who took part in the Nazi extermination of Jews. Draws on interviews with German witnesses and recounts how Nazi women plundered Jewish homes, acted as concentration-camp guards, and participated in mass shootings of Jews, among other atrocities. Includes photographs, endnotes, and an index.
Mailänder Koslov, Elissa, and Patricia Szobar. Female SS Guards and Workaday Violence: The Majdanek Concentration Camp, 1942-1944. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2015. (D 805.5 .M35 M34513 2015) [Find in a library near you]
Analyzes 28 female SS guards who oversaw female prisoners in the Majdanek concentration camp. Examines Nazi records, court testimonies, memoirs, and interviews to explore the relationships of female SS guards with male coworkers and superiors, as well as the social order of the concentration camp and the manner in which female SS guards resorted to violence in daily duties such as supervising prisoners, conducting roll calls, and selecting prisoners for extermination in the gas chambers. Includes notes, bibliography, and index.
Owings, Alison. Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993. (D 810 .W6 O95 1993) [Find in a library near you]
Relates the life stories of twenty-nine women who lived in Nazi Germany. Uses interviews with women from many social spectra, including German-Jews, individuals of “mixed” parentage, a countess, a camp guard, women who hid Jews, Nazi supporters, Communists, and other seemingly ordinary women, to probe the hardships faced and moral compromises made by many Germans. Includes a glossary and an index.
Passmore, Kevin. Women, Gender, and Fascism in Europe, 1919-45. New Brunswick, N.J. : Manchester University Press, 2003. (HQ 1236.5 .E8 W644 2003). [Find in a library near you]
Comprised of 14 essays on women, gender, and fascism in 20th-century Central and Eastern European countries, examining the interaction between the women’s movement and the extreme right as well as women’s role in the collapse of democracy in interwar Europe. Includes bibliographical references and index.
Stephenson, Jill. Women in Nazi Germany. New York: Longman, 2001. (HQ 1623 .S73 2001) [Find in a library near you]
Investigates the status of primarily non-Jewish women in Nazi Germany, examining their roles as both perpetrators and victims. Analyzes the importance of gender persecution and women’s willing participation in gender-segregated activities to the success of the Nazi state. Features a chapter of primary-source documents, translated into English when necessary, pertaining to women and Nazi Germany. Includes an extensive collection of references, an index, a glossary, and a guide to further reading.
Resistance and Rescue
Delbo, Charlotte. Convoy to Auschwitz: Women of the French Resistance. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997. (D 805 .P7 D4313 1997) [Find in a library near you]
A collective biography of the 230 French women, almost all of whom were involved in the resistance movement, who were on the same transport from Compiégne, France, to Auschwitz in January, 1943. Provides for each woman her name, a summary of her life before the war, and a description of her resistance activities and subsequent arrest, followed by her prisoner number at Auschwitz, a statement regarding her camp experience or her fate, and information regarding post-war life, if applicable. Includes an introductory essay by the author, one of only 49 survivors out of the 230 women on the transport.
Holden, Wendy. Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope. New York: Harper, 2015. (D 804.47 .H65 2015) [Find in a library near you]
Recounts the true story of three pregnant Jewish women from Zlaté Moravce, Pabianice, and Třebechovice pod Orebem who met in Birkenau and whose husbands and families were murdered. Describes how the women concealed their pregnancies from Josef Mengele and how the women and newborn children survived at Birkenau until liberation. Includes bibliography and sources.
Laska, Vera, editor. Women in the Resistance and in the Holocaust: The Voices of Eyewitnesses. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983. (D 810 .J4 W58 1983) [Find in a library near you]
A collection of first-person accounts, many reprinted from other sources, detailing the different roles women played in the various phases of the Holocaust. Addresses women’s part in resistance groups or activities, and describes their experiences in the concentration camps and in hiding. Precedes each contribution with background information on the topic to follow. Includes a foreword by Simon Wiesenthal, an historical introduction by the editor, illustrations, a lengthy bibliography, and an index.
Lucamante, Stefania. Forging Shoah Memories: Italian Women Writers, Jewish Identity, and the Holocaust. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. (PQ 4055 .W6 L827 2014). [Find in a library near you]
Analyzes the works of Italian women who are authors of Shoah-related works in a variety of genres. Follows the history of these works from writings immediately following the end of the war through present day, and explores the transition of works from nonfiction personal memoirs written by survivors to fictional works written by first- and second-generation women. Includes bibliographical references and index.
Phayer, Michael, and Eva Fleischner. Cries in the Night: Women Who Challenged the Holocaust. Kansas City, MO: Sheed & Ward, 1997. (D 804.65 .P48 1997) [Find in a library near you]
The stories of seven Catholic lay women who defied the Nazis by saving Jews during the Holocaust. Explores the motivating factors behind the women’s heroic rescue efforts and the tension between their actions and the seeming inaction of the Catholic Church. Based on both archival research and personal interviews.
Thon, Elsa. If Only It Were Fiction. Toronto: Azrieli Foundation, 2013. (DS 134.72 .T446 A3 2013). [Find in a library near you]
Details author’s experience living in Nazi-occupied Pruszków, Poland, her separation from her family when she managed to escape from the Warsaw Ghetto, and her involvement with the underground resistance movement before being caught with false papers in Krakow in the summer of 1943 and deported to Plaszow Concentration Camp. Includes photographs and index.
Weitz, Margaret Collins. Sisters in the Resistance: How Women Fought to Free France, 1940-1945. New York: J. Wiley, 1995. (D 802 .F8 W44 1995) [Find in a library near you]
A collection of first-person interviews of women who fought for the French Resistance. Examines the driving forces behind their struggle, the ideals that motivated them, and the daily hardships of life in occupied France. Supplements the personal accounts with historical background, brief biographical statements regarding each woman, a chronology, end notes, a bibliography, and an index.
Ziolkowska-Boehm, Aleksandra. Kaia, Heroine of the 1944 Warsaw Rising. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2012. (DK 4420 .I44 Z5613 2012). [Find in a library near you]
Describes the life of Kaia Iljin in Warsaw before World War II and during the Nazi occupation, as well as her participation in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising as a member of the Home Army. Also recounts Kaia’s capture by the Russian NKVD and her subsequent time in the Soviet Ostashkov prison from November 1944-February 1945, as well her role as an architect in the rebuilding of Warsaw at the end of World War II. Includes notes, appendices, and an index.
Film and Video
Attie, Barbara, and Martha Goell Lubell. Daring to Resist [videorecording]. New York: Distributed by Women Make Movies, 1999. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Tells the stories of three teenage girls who resisted the Nazis and helped save many lives: Barbara Rodbell, a ballerina in Amsterdam who delivered underground newspapers and secured food and transportation for Jews in hiding; Shulamit Lack, who acquired false papers and a safe house for Jews attempting to escape from Hungary; and Faye Schulman, a photographer and partisan fighter in the forests of Poland. Includes interviews with each woman, home movies, and never-before-published photographs.
Frogner, Karoline. Mørketid: kvinners møte med nazismen = Into Darkness [videorecording]. New York: Distributed by Women Make Movies, 1997. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
A ninety-minute documentary that tells the story of women’s survival and resistance in German-occupied countries. In Norwegian with English subtitles.
Reahl, Ed, and Arlene Weiner. Triumph of the Spirit [videorecording]. Baltimore: Ed Reahl Productions, 1995. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
A documentary presenting the stories of three Jewish women survivors of the Holocaust: Alice Lok-Cahana, a Hungarian Auschwitz survivor who later became an artist of the Holocaust; Renée Fritz, who, as a young child, was hidden in a convent, and later at a farm and an orphanage; and Deli Strummer, who lived through the terrors of multiple camps and a death march.
Rescuers: Portraits of Courage: Two Women [videorecording]. Hollywood: Paramount Home Video, 1998. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
A dramatic retelling of the true stories of two women who risked their lives to save Jews. Re-enacts the rescue activities of Marie-Rose Gineste, a French Catholic who provided false documents to Jews needing to escape, and Gertruda Babilinska, a devout Polish Catholic housekeeper and nursemaid to a wealthy Jewish family, who saved the life of their son by taking him on as her own child. Stars Elizabeth Perkins and Sela Ward.
Museum Web Resources
Briefly reviews the Nazi treatment of women during the Holocaust, highlighting those experiences or elements unique to women. Addresses life in the ghettos and camps, as well as women’s roles in the resistance. Includes photographs, relevant artifacts, personal stories, and related links.
Ask at the reference desk to see the subject file labeled “Women” containing newspaper and periodical articles.
To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on women during the Holocaust, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:
- Jewish women in the Holocaust
- National socialism and women
- Women concentration camp guards
- Women concentration camp inmates
- Women guerrillas
- Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)–Personal narratives (NOTE: This subject heading will yield personal narratives by both women and men.)