I recently read three different and very worthwhile books that have in
common the subject of women and the Holocaust. The first is written as
a play, the second is a sociological study, and the third is a collection
of short stories.
Silence Not, A Love Story by Cindy Cooper (Gihon River Press, 2009) asks us to imagine a Munich train station in 1938 and focuses on a young
Jewish woman in the resistance. Based on the true story of Gisa Peiper
and her Catholic boyfriend, Paul Konopka, the play is about the couple's
love for each other and for humanity. Unlike others who joined resistance
groups in Nazi Germany, this couple survived and married. Gisa devoted
her life afterward to helping others.
Memorializing the Holocaust: Gender, Genocide and Collective Memory by
Jane Jacobs (I.B, Tauris, 2010) is the first book to explore gender in
the collective memory of the Holocaust and genocide. After visiting concentration
camp memorials, Jacobs analyzed how gender plays a role in memorialization.
A professor of sociology and women and gender studies at University of
Colorado, Jacobs uncovers ways in which images of violence against women
have become universal symbols of mass trauma and genocide.
Four Women from Ravensbrück by Roberta Kalechofsky (Micha Publications, 2011)
is a collection stories that have the Holocaust in common. The title story
fictionalizes from the fact that the Dachau hypothermia "medical" experiments
included using women prisoners to try to sexually revive dying male prisoners.
Although some historical facts (e.g., the colors of triangles the Ravensbrück
prisoners wore) should have been better researched, the general narrative
is compelling. The author chose four categories of women prisoners, imagining
their feelings and conversations as this horrendous experiment was forced
upon them. While I read the book because of its title, I also liked the other
stories: a priest brings groups of Jewish children to visit Nazi concentration
camp memorials; a girl in Chile is branded with a "J" by German immigrant
children; early political prisoners in Oranienburg; and a man wants to
stop the cattle cars heading for a death camp.
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