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We are pleased to announce that the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous named Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust as their book of the month for February 2012.


Historic symposium is first to address sexual violence during the Holocaust

Jane Fonda featured at public event about sexual violence

Jerusalem Book Launch Mielec, Poland: The Shtetl That Became a Nazi Concentration Camp, by Rochelle G. Saidel

Women Under Siege: Gloria Steinem cites Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust as inspiration to launch website to combat sexual violence in war

Personal documents by Moshe Borger presented to the Yad Vashem Archives

Women of Ravensbrück, Portraits of Courage: Art by Julia Terwilliger

61st Annual National Jewish Book Awards Ceremony

42nd Annual Scholars' Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches

I Came to Testify: Rape as a Weapon of War

"Ravensbrück and the Victimization of Women"


November 7-8, 2012

Historic symposium is first to address sexual violence during the Holocaust

A historic symposium on sexual violence during the Holocaust took place on November 7-8, 2012, in Los Angeles, co-sponsored by the Remember the Women Institute and the USC Shoah Foundation. The meeting of some 20 invited academics and activists who have worked on this issue was held at University of Southern California. The symposium was prompted by the publication of the book Sexual Violence Against Jewish Women During the Holocaust (eds. Sonja M. Hedgepeth and Rochelle G. Saidel), which breaks new ground in exploring the evidence that has been overlooked or ignored by mainstream Holocaust scholars for the last 65 years. It is also an outgrowth of Remember the Women Institute's project to seek living survivors of sexual violence during the Holocaust who will be willing to testify. USC Shoah Foundation has over 1,700 testimonies that refer to sexual assaults in all stages of the Holocaust -- from ghettos to camps, and from forced marches to DP camps. View event video.


Shoah Symposium
Jane Fonda, center, with Dan Leshem, Eva Fogelman, Jessica Neuwirth, Rochelle Saidel, Sonja Hedgepeth, Karen Shulman. Photo: Courtesy of USC Shoah Foundation/Kim Fox


Over these two days, participants reflected on the types of evidence that point to sexual violence, the place of sexual violence within genocidal processes, and the ways in which genocide is shaped by gender. For example, workshops and presentations discussed the role of testimony in understanding sexual violence in the Holocaust, the credibility of testimony as a primary historical source, how the Holocaust and other genocidal experiences are gendered, how understanding the role of sexual violence informs Holocaust historiography, and how shame has played a role in survivors’ willingness to share the story.

After two days of deliberations the participants drafted a group statement of purpose for going forward, which says:

Evidence, information, and scholarship are emerging that sexual violence, long largely ignored, was an integral part of the Holocaust in many forms. Absence of acknowledgment of this reality has not only harmed survivors but also the understanding of and efforts to prevent genocide, and efforts to stop sexual violence in genocide, war, and every day. We hope that increasing awareness of this subject, obscured by shame and denial, will bring recognition to the victims, many of whom did not survive, rectify this omission from history, and support the work of those who oppose these atrocities.

The list of participants (alphabetical order) is:
Patrice Bensimon
Dr. Paula David
Dr. Richard Dekmejian
Dr. Monika Flaschka
Dr. Eva Fogelman
Dr. Myrna Goldenberg
Dr. Wolf Gruner
Dr. Sonja Hedgepeth
Dr. Karen Jungblut
Dr. Dan Leshem
Dr. Catharine MacKinnon
Daisy Miller
Jessica Neuwirth
Dr. Amy Parish
Dr. Andrea Peto
Dr. John Roth
Dr. Rochelle Saidel
Karen Shulman
Dr. Stephen Smith
Dr. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey
Dr. Zoe Waxman

Shoah Symposium Participants Participants at the November 7-8, 2012, symposium on sexual violence during the Holocaust are shown with Jane Fonda, center, holding her dog. Left to right: Dr. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, Dr. Zoe Waxman, Dr. Amy Parish, Dr. Andrea Peto, Dr. Myrna Goldenberg, Dr. Eva Fogelman, Jessica Neuwirth, Dr. Dan Leshem, Jane Fonda, Dr. Rochelle Saidel, Dr. Sonja Hedgepeth, Dr. Catharine MacKinnon, Dr. Paula David, Karen Shulman, Dr.Monika Flaschka, Dr. John Roth. Photo: Courtesy of USC Shoah Foundation/Kim Fox

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November 8, 2012

Jane Fonda featured at public event about sexual violence

As a highlight of the two-day seminar on Sexual Violence during the Holocaust, Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda hosted a public evening on Thursday, November 8, 2012, at the CAA Ray Kurtzman Theater in Los Angeles.

Ms. Fonda read excerpts from And the Rat Laughed, a novel by acclaimed Israeli writer Nava Semel, herself a child of Holocaust survivors. The novel, published in English in 2008, tells the story of a five-year-old Jewish girl who was sexually abused by Jane FondaStefan, the son of Polish farmers who were hiding her from the Nazis. It takes place in the past, present, and future, and focuses on memory being transferred via the chain of generations from 1943 until 2099. Her dramatic and moving reading left many audience members with tears in their eyes. It also inspired two Holocaust survivors in the audience to share their thoughts. Ms. Fonda also introduced a clip reel from the USC Shoah Foundation's archives, specially made for the occasion by USC Shoah Foundation and Remember the Women Institute. In this interview segment, a woman who had been raped by a Nazi guard at Auschwitz-Birkenau testified about her experience and urged others to come forward. Read the story in the Times of Israel.

The event was co-sponsored by Remember the Women Institute, the USC Shoah Foundation, and Equality Now. Following Ms. Fonda's presentation and the clip reel, there was a panel discussion with Jessica Neuwirth, founder and president of Equality Now, Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, founder and executive director of Remember the Women Institute, and Dr. Stephen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation. This program was the culmination of an historic symposium on Sexual Violence during the Holocaust on November 7-8, 2012, during which invited participants discussed whether we can actually still find primary testimony and how to make victims' voices heard; how we can research and compile for scholars the citations of sexual violence already available in published works; and how we can endeavor to ensure that sexual violence is included in the Holocaust narrative for future generations.

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Monday, January 23, 2012, 8:00 pm

Mielec, PolandJerusalem Book Launch for Mielec, Poland: The Shtetl That Became a Nazi Concentration Camp, by Rochelle G. Saidel
Congregation Moreshet Israel
Agron Street
Jerusalem, Israel

Mielec, Poland: The Shtetl That Became a Nazi Concentration Camp by Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, just published by Gefen Publishing House, is the subject of a book launch co-sponsored by Congregation Moreshet Israel and The Fuchsberg Center on Monday evening, January 23. Mielec is just one of many small dots on the map of the Holocaust, but its remarkable and unique history calls for closer scrutiny. Using an experimental process that was not repeated, the Nazis destroyed the Mielec Jewish community on March 9, 1942. The visual and written documentation in this book allows us to learn about the Jewish community that had flourished in Mielec until the Holocaust, as well as the way in which it was wiped out by the Nazis. Another unusual aspect of the Mielec story is that a labor camp, later a concentration camp, was located there to build Heinkel airplanes. Many of the rare visuals about Mielec during the Holocaust are from survivor Moshe Borger, who was given Holocaust-era correspondence and his sister's photograph album by a Polish neighbor after World War II. Mr. Borger is participating in the event.

Congregation Moreshet event

Photo, left: Moshe Borger, Mielec survivor, is seated in center of photo, first row, with cane. Photo, right: Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel speaking about her book on Mielec, Poland.

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February 8, 2012

Women Under Siege: Gloria Steinem cites Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust as inspiration to launch website to combat sexual violence in war

Through Gloria Steinem, the Women's Media Center has just launched a website called Women Under Siege, designed to draw attention to the fight against sexualized violence as a tool in genocide and conflict zones around the world. When asked what drew her to this project, she said she got the idea after reading Sexual Violence Against Jewish Women During the Holocaust by Sonja M. Hedgepeth and Rochelle G. Saidel, as well as At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance by Danielle McGuire. Lauren Wolfe, director of the Women Under Siege site, consulted Remember the Women Institute before writing the section on the Holocaust for the new site.

"This particular form of violence seems profoundly invisible and therefore it continues to punish the victim and rarely punishes the criminal,” said Steinem. Sexualized violence "is a perennial longstanding deep issue," she said. "We've been working on it as long as I can remember. In the first instance explaining rape was not sex, it was violence." She knew there were lessons to be learned from the experiences of women in conflict zones, and wondered whether the experiences of women raped during the Holocaust could have helped society understand and perhaps prevent further sexualized violence in Bosnia and the Congo.

Created by Gloria Steinem, and with a pioneering grant from activist and philanthropist Bonnie Schaefer, Women Under Siege breaks down how rape and other forms of sexualized violence are used as tools in genocide and conflict throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. This project works from the belief that understanding what has happened from the Holocaust onward might have helped us to prevent or prepare for the mass sexual assaults of other conflicts.

"Documenting the problem allows individual victims to know they're not alone or at fault, and allows the institutions of society to create remedies, from laws to education," says Steinem. "By making clear that sexualized violence is political and public, it admits that sexualized violence can be changed."

With blog entries by CBS correspondent Lara Logan—a very personal telling of what happened to her in Tahrir Square and how it has changed her understanding of sexualized violence; photojournalist Lynsey Addario, on how painful it has been for her to cover rape in Congo; Gloria Steinem, on why she founded the project; as well as Tia Palermo, author of last year’s groundbreaking study that revealed that four women are raped every five minutes in Congo; and Karestan Koenen, who writes about her own rape in Niger from the perspective of her work as a Harvard psychologist and epidemiologist—Women Under Siege has created a space for writers, photographers, and survivors to share their work in the field.

The site includes analyses of how sexualized violence has been used as a tool of war—whether to humiliate, to ethnically cleanse, to retaliate, and so on—and provides testimonies of victims in the Holocaust, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, and Egypt.

Both the World Health Organization and the UN Security Council have recognized that there is a lack of research on sexualized violence in conflict, while there is increasing demand for better analysis in order to work toward prevention and healing. Women Under Siege brings insight that can now be used in this fight to decommission one of war’s most effective means of destroying the enemy—sexualized violence. Women Under Siege is an offshoot of the Women's Media Center, a non-profit media advocacy group that Steinem began in 2005 along with actress Jane Fonda and writer Robin Morgan.

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March 5, 2012

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel

Yad Vashem Archives Division, Libraries, and International Institute for Holocaust Research held an event on March 5, 2012, at 3:00 pm on the occasion of the presentation to the Yad Vashem Archives of personal documents by Moshe Borger, Shoah survivor from Mielec, and the presentation to the Yad Vashem Library of the book Mielec, Poland: The Shtetl That Became a Nazi Concentration Camp by author Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel. The ceremony took place at the Archives and Library Building, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel. A gathering of scholars, friends, and family were present to honor Moshe Borger as he handed over to Yad Vashem for safekeeping and future research his precious and unique photos and documents about his hometown. At the same time, Dr. Saidel presented her new book about Mielec, which details the story of the shtetl and its Jewish community, as well as a Nazi labor camp located there. See more information about Mielec and the book.

Yad Vashem

Photo, left to right: Remember the Women Institute Board Member Dr. Sonja M. Hedgepeth, Mielec, Poland author Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, Mielec survivor Moshe Borger, and Dr. Ilya Altman, co-chair of the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center in Moscow, at the Yad Vashem ceremony on March 5, 2012.

Yad Vashem

Photo, left (left to right): Dr. Haim Gertner, Director of Yad Vashem Archive, Mielec survivor Moshe Borger, and Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, at a ceremony at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, on March 5, 2012. Photo, right: Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, left, author of Mielec, Poland: The Shtetl That Became a Nazi Concentration Camp, watches survivor Moshe Borger present his documents and photographs of Mielec to Dr. Haim Gertner, Director of the Yad Vashem Archive.

Yad Vashem

Photo, left: At an event held at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, on March 5, 2012, Rodica Jacob (right), Head of the Yad Vashem Library's Cataloguing and Classification Department, accepts a copy of Mielec, Poland for the library from author Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel. Photo, right: Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel speaks about her book, Mielec, Poland: The Shtetl That Became a Nazi Concentration Camp, at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, March 5, 2012.

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March 11-June 30, 2012

Women of Ravensbrück, Portraits of Courage: Art by Julia Terwilliger
Farmington Hills (Detroit), MI
The Holocaust Memorial Center
Zekelman Family Campus
28123 Orchard Lake Rd.
Farmington Hills, MI 48334-3738

Curated by Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel. Dr. Saidel will speak about the exhibit at the Holocaust Memorial Center at 7:00 pm on June 5, 2012.

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March 14, 2012, 8:00 pm

61st Annual National Jewish Book Awards Ceremony
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York City

Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust (eds Sonja M. Hedgepeth and Rochelle G. Saidel) is a finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards for 2011 for the category of Women's Studies (sponsored by Barbara Dobkin). Please see a list of all winners and finalists in all categories. The 2011 winners are honored at the event, which is hosted by Samuel G. Freedman and Abigail Pogrebin, and free and open to the public.

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March 18, 2012

Jewish Women's Archive Annual Luncheon

Gloria Steinem, Rochelle SaidelDr. Rochelle G. Saidel and Karen Shulman represented Remember the Women Institute at the annual luncheon of the Jewish Women's Archive, held on March 18, 2012, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York. Gloria Steinem, in her remarks as the award presenter at the luncheon, singled out Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust and its co-editors, Dr. Saidel and Dr. Sonja M. Hedgepeth, for praise as a groundbreaking work that inspired her to create a website about sexual violence during conflict, Women Under Siege. The honorees at the event, who received "Making Trouble/Making History" Awards, are Elizabeth A. Sackler, Rebecca Traister, and Letty Cottin Pogrebin. Pictured at the luncheon are Gloria Steinem and Rochelle G. Saidel.

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May 12-14, 2012

Congregation Moreshet event42nd Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches
Monroe Community College
Rochester, NY

A special plenary session at the 42nd Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, held at Monroe Community College, Rochester, New York, from May 12-14, 2012, discussed sexual violence against Jewish women during the Holocaust. Dr. Sonja M. Hedgepeth and Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, co-editors of a book with this title, participated. Dr. Hedgepeth spoke of "What No One Wants to Talk About." She traced the genesis of the book, highlighted its interdisciplinary and international chapter authors, and addressed the fact that some Holocaust scholars and others discouraged publication. Dr. Saidel then spoke of "Where Do We Go From Here?" She outlined some of the events, activities, and projects that have been engendered as a result of the book's publication. A lively and thought-provoking question and answer session followed. See more information about Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust. Dr. Marcia Sachs Littell, emeritus executive director of the Scholars' Conference served as session chair. The central theme of this year's conference was: "70 Years Later: The Lingering Shadow of Wannsee." For more information on the conference, go to http://ascconf.org/. Pictured (left to right) at the special plenary session and book signing are: Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel and Dr. Sonja M. Hedgepeth, co-editors, and Dr. Marcia Sachs Littell, who organized and chaired the session. Photo by Catherine Howell

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May 23, 2012, 6-8:30 pm

I Came to Testify: Rape as a Weapon of War
Women’s eNews HQ
6 Barclay Street
6th Floor
New York

Women’s eNews and the Anne Frank Center USA presented a private screening of I Came to Testify, the lead documentary in the Women, War and Peace series produced by Abigail Disney for PBS.

After the screening, Dr. Rochelle Saidel co-editor of Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust and executive director of Remember the Women Institute; Refik Hodzic, Director of Communications at the International Center for Transnational Justice (ICTJ); and Vijaya Thakur, founder and executive director of Resolve Network, a grassroots peace-building organization working in Eastern Congo, discussed various aspects of sexual violence against women in war. Kelli Muddell, a gender specialist with ICTJ, was moderator.

While the war in Bosnia brought rape prosecutions as crimes against humanity to the international court in The Hague for the first time in 2001, it took until 2008 and the continuing brutal sexual violence directed at women to see rape named as a weapon of war. Has this legal change made it any easier to talk about the rapes women have faced in the past, and continue to face today? Or are there still too few forums willing to address the unique experiences of women during war?

I Came To Testify: When the Balkans exploded into war in the 1990s, reports that tens of thousands of women were being systematically raped by Serb-led forces as a tactic of ethnic cleansing captured the international spotlight. I Came to Testify illuminates the momentous courage of two women who survived these atrocities. "Witness 99," as she is called in the film, broke history's great silence when she and 15 others stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law, resulting in a triumphant verdict that defined sexual enslavement as a crime against humanity for the first time in history. "Z.R." is pressing her case in Bosnia's backlogged national courts, despite death threats meant to silence her--but like most female war survivors is still waiting for justice while her attacker walks free. The film powerfully reveals the scars remaining more than fifteen years after the end of the war and explores the role of justice in healing and reconciliation.

Panelist Refik Hodzic was in The Hague during the war crimes trial at which these women testified, and is also featured in the film. He spoke movingly about the strife in his native country, and about the lack of support afterward for the brave women who had the courage to testify in 2001. Rochelle Saidel provided a historical perspective, reminding the audience that rape and sexual violence were also part of the Holocaust, and Vijaya Thakur explained some of the details of the situation in Congo. There was a lively and intelligent question and answer session, followed by a call for action by Women's eNews editor-and-chief Rita Henley Jensen.

I Came to Testify screening

Photo: The panel at an event held on May 23 at Women's eNews headquarters and co-sponsored by the Anne Frank Center, New York, discussed rape during war and genocide. Panelists (left to right): Moderator Kelli Muddell, Vijaya Thakur, Refik Hodzic, and Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel. Photo: Women's eNews

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June 5, 2012, 7:00 pm

"Ravensbrück and the Victimization of Women"
Farmington Hills (Detroit), MI
The Holocaust Memorial Center
Zekelman Family Campus
28123 Orchard Lake Rd.
Farmington Hills, MI 48334-3738

In conjunction with the exhibition, Women of Ravensbrück, Portraits of Courage: Art by Julia Terwilliger, curator Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel discussed the exhibition, the history of the concentration camp and its memorial, and sexual violence during the Holocaust. A book signing for both The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp written by Dr. Saidel and Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust co-edited by Dr. Saidel followed her presentation. The exhibition was originally created for the Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL, when the current executive director in Michigan, Stephen Goldman, was the executive director in Florida. For the current exhibit, the memorial center added a new panel with photographs of nineteen local survivors of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Some survivors of the camp were in attendance.

Ravensbruck

Photo, far left: A panel portraying nineteen survivors of Ravensbrück in the local Detroit area was added to the exhibition. This photograph displays five sisters and their sister-in-law, all of whom survived. Photo, second from left: Part of the exhibition, showing a portrait at right of Dr. Kate Leichter, a Viennese Jewish leader of the Social Democrats who was murdered as a Ravensbrück prisoner. Photo, second from right: Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, curator, at a poster that welcomes visitors to the exhibition in the Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills, MI. Photo, far right: "Yetta of the Rudnicki Forest" by Tanya-Cherokee G. Walker. After Dr. Saidel's talk, artist Tanya-Cherokee G. Walker, an artist who says she was inspired by the Remember the Women Institute's website, showed her a mixed media portrait of "Yetta of the Rudnicki Forest," a Holocaust survivor that she created. Yetta's right eye contains her Holocaust experience, according to the artist. The artwork includes stiffened fabric, beads, and wires, and the artist describes it as a beaded canvas sculpture.

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