Jewish women at forced labor in a sewing workshop. Lodz ghetto, Poland, between 1940 and 1944.
Juedisches Museum der Stadt Frankfurt
Mothers, daughters, housewives, physicians, teachers, athletes—women of all ages and backgrounds were confronted with the horrors of the Holocaust.
The Nazis subjected women, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to unique and brutal persecution. Individual camps and certain areas within concentration camps were designated specifically for women. Often, women, especially those with small children, were the first to be “selected” for gassing at killing centers.
In both camps and ghettos, women were particularly vulnerable to beatings and rape. Pregnant Jewish women often tried to conceal their pregnancies or were forced to submit to abortions.
Some women were leaders or members of ghetto resistance organizations. Others were active in camp armed resistance. Women responded to Nazi oppression in various ways. This Special Focus page highlights the feelings and actions of women during the Nazi era.
Simone Weil kept this blank identification card bearing her picture in case her cover as “Simone Werlin” were blown and she needed to establish a new false identity. Both resistance workers and sympathetic government employees provided her the necessary stamps and signatures. Such forged documents assisted Weil in her work rescuing Jewish children as a member of the relief and rescue organization Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (Children’s Aid Society; OSE). —United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - Collections
My mother was an...an astonishing woman. She was 43 years old. I can thank her my survival because I didn't know when she took that piece of bread from me to...for safekeeping for the day, to give me a piece, you know, every few hours to sort of sustain me through all this, that not only did she give me the piece of bread that I was given, she was giving me a piece of her bread without me knowing so that I would have a little bit more food, so I could go on and survive.