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Expanded Edition Book to be Published: My Story
NEW Book:
The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp
Gender Equality: New Brazilian Teacher Guide For Gender Equality In The Classroom
Ongoing Research Project: Antisemitism and Sexism: Jewish Women Who Immigrated to Brazil

My Story, 1961 cover

New Expanded Edition of Memoir by Gemma LaGuardia Gluck to be Published by Syracuse University Press in Spring 2007, with Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel as Editor

Fiorello's Sister: Gemma La Guardia Gluck's Story  is the working title for a new expanded edition of My Story, a memoir by Gemma LaGuardia Gluck, to be published by Syracuse University Press in Spring 2007. Gemma was the sister of former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (1933-1944), and she was held as a political hostage in Ravensbrück concentration camp. Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel  has edited Gluck's memoir, adding a prologue and epilogue. She also included an appendix with letters written between Gemma and Fiorello between 1947 and 1957, as well as visuals that trace Gemma's life story.

Gemma La Guardia Gluck's original memoir, My Story, edited by S. L. Shneiderman and published in 1961, has long been out of print. While the focus is on Gemma's experience in Ravensbrück, it is much more than a Holocaust memoir.  It begins with the great wave of immigration to the United States from Europe in the 1880s, and follows the family to army posts in Dakota Territory and Arizona. It also traces the family history of the La Guardias, including the background of Gemma and Fiorello’s Jewish mother,  Irene Coen La Guardia.

Gemma and her family returned to Italy in the early twentieth century, when she was in her twenties. Fiorello went back to New York to earn a law degree and launch a political career, but Gemma remained in Europe and married a Hungarian Jewish man. Living in Budapest in 1944, she was arrested by the Nazis. In addition to her incarceration in Ravensbrück, Gemma details the often untold story of the extreme hardships of living as a displaced person in post-World War II Berlin. She also describes how her daughter and infant grandson were reunited with her as she was sent out of the concentration camp, and how the three of them struggled for two years to immigrate to the United States.

Gemma's memoir is a story of a wise and strong woman who remained optimistic and resourceful,  even when life was much less than fair. Watch for details of the publication date, related lectures, and information on how to order your copy. For a summary of a lecture related to this book, please see


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The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp
The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp
by Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel
Imprint: Terrace Books, University of Wisconsin Press,
Paperback edition, 2006, ISBN 0-299-19864, with new preface, $21.95.
Hardcover, 2004, ISBN 0-299-19860-X, $29.95, 336 pp. with 63 images. ORDER FORM (requires Adobe Reader).

See information about book launch of paperback edition and reader comments.
The hardback and/or paperback edition is now available throughout Israel via Yad Vashem by phoning (02) 644-3511. Also available in Jerusalem at M. Pomeranz Bookseller, Shmuel HaNagid Street 4. Telephone (02) 623-5559. E-mail:
And at Tamir Books, Rehov Emek Refaim, Jerusalem, as well as at selected Steimatzky bookstores.

And at Tamir Books, Rehov Emek Refaim, Jerusalem, as well as at some Steimatzky stores.

Available in Brazil through the Livraria Cultura web site and retail store in Conjunto Nacional Av. Paulista, 2073, São Paulo, and in other cities in Brazil. São Paulo telephone (11) 3170-4033, fax (11) 3285-4457, and e-mail:

This is the first book in English to recount the experiences of Jewish prisoners in Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp, and to incorporate the camp into Holocaust memorialization. Based on the author’s interest in the camp and its victims, as well as her personal relationships with some of the survivors, the book was envisioned when she first visited the camp memorial (then in East Germany) in 1980. It includes narratives from interviews with some sixty survivors in the United States, Israel, Canada, Europe, and Brazil, as well as unpublished testimonies and documents. Some survivors shared a poem, diary excerpt, or unpublished memoir, which are incorporated into the book. There are also sixty-three graphic images, and an extensive bibliography.

This crossover book is of interest to scholars as well as general readers of memoirs, women’s lives and history, and twentieth century and Holocaust-related history. Although it is written in a style that is engaging to general readers, it is thoroughly researched, documented, and footnoted. The book fills a gap, because the camp and the experiences of its female Jewish victims are virtually unknown to most English language readers. Even anthologies that study women during the Holocaust have either omitted the camp or included only superficial information.

Because Ravensbrück was created as a camp for female political prisoners, many of them Communists, and was located in East Germany, the Cold War interfered with information about and interest in it after World War II. Furthermore, because many prisoners were political rather than Jewish, the camp has until now been downplayed in most of the literature, historical accounts, museums, and memorials that recount Jewish Holocaust experiences. However, thousands of Jewish women were murdered by slave labor, torture, starvation, shooting, lethal injection, “medical” experiments, and gassing in this camp, which was located about 50 miles north of Berlin. Among the some 132,000 women who were in the camp, about twenty percent were Jewish. This innovative book aims at bringing to life the stories of the Jewish prisoners in the context of the camp, so that readers can better understand the despair in Ravensbrück and the ways that some of its victims managed to survive and rebuild their lives.

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Mielec Jewish Cemetray gates

Preliminary Report on “The Untold Story of Mielec, Poland” - Yad Vashem Research Project.

As a Research Fellow at the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research during the Fall 2006 semester, Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel carried out archival research for a book or monograph about “The Untold Story of Mielec, Poland.” Research and writing for this project will continue throughout 2007.

The untold story of Mielec, Poland, might be entitled “From Kehillah to Konzentrationslager.” Like hundreds of other shtetls and small towns in Poland, its Jewish community was destroyed during the Holocaust. The entire population was murdered, sent to slave labor or deported en masse to the Lublin District on March 9, 1942. Mielec is unique because this was the first town that had its Jewish population deported in the context of the Final Solution. The decision to do so was made very early, in January 1942. Furthermore, after the deportation, the Mielec Jews were not murdered immediately. Nevertheless, histories of the Holocaust barely or never mention Mielec.

Located in the Rzeszow province in southern Poland, Mielec had a Jewish community that was first organized in the middle of the seventeenth century. Just prior to World War II, there were 3,000 to 4000 Jewish inhabitants (depending on source), about half of the population. Only about 200 Jewish residents survived the Holocaust. On September 13, 1939, erev Rosh Hashanah, the Nazis shot or burned alive at least 20 Jews in the synagogue-mikve-slaughterhouse complex.

In January 1942, a decision was made to deport the Mielec Jews, and on March 9, 1942, about 2000 to 3000 Jews or more (depending on source) were transferred to the Berdechow airport. Some sources claim a higher number, and the population had grown because Jews had fled to the town from other locations in Poland. Some were shot before arrival at the airport; the rest were herded into the hangar, where they were subject to a selection. After a group of young people (about 750) were chosen for slave labor in Pustkow concentration camp, the rest were deported to Parchew, Wlodawa, Niedzyrzec, Dubienka and other towns in the Lublin district. They lived there in dire circumstances, awaiting ultimate transfer to Belzec or Sobibor and murder. During that time, the Mielec church organist hid some of their belongings. As the victims waited, they wrote to him asking that he sell certain items and send them money for necessities. He did so, always carefully recording the transactions.

About four months after the Jewish population was removed from Mielec, a forced labor camp was established there to produce airplanes for Heinkel. This later became a full-fledged concentration camp. Survivors of the Mielec concentration camp, mostly not natives of the town, gave testimonies that provided graphic details about their daily life. There were both men and women in the Mielec camp, which functioned for about two years. Some of them provided testimony for trials against the various commandants of the camp. The last, Josef Schwammberger, was finally tried in Germany in 1990, after escaping to Argentina and living there for 40 years.

The idea for this research project began because of a survivor living in Jerusalem, Moshe Borger. He has rare documentation about Mielec before, during, and after the Holocaust, which helps to tell the story of Mielec and appropriately place it within Holocaust history. Research in the archives of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw have given the project added dimensions and information. Even though there are very few survivors who were natives of Mielec, there is a wealth of firsthand testimonies regarding the community and the concentration camp that was subsequently created there. These accounts about the pre-Holocaust community and the March 9, 1942 deportation are mostly from a few fortunate Jews who were able to escape into hiding. There are also testimonies by non-Jewish residents and Nazi documents that provide a time line and elaborate plans for the deportation.

This research project also uses as new primary source material Moshe Borger's rare photographs, letters, and documents that preserve the history of his community. These materials (typically unavailable for a destroyed community) tell the story of Mielec and its Jewish inhabitants. They also provide evidence that the Mielec church organist helped the deported Jews. (Mr. Borger owns the original materials, and some have been scanned by Yad Vashem's archives. Rochelle Saidel has Mr. Borger's permission to use them, as well as other materials in his Jerusalem home .)

Mr. Borger, then a teenager, was hidden near Mielec with the help of a school friend's family. His sisters, Sarah and Ziporah, were deported. (Testimony in the Mielec Yizkor Book describes how a friend tried to help them escape.) Mr. Borger has extraordinary correspondence between the deportees and the church organist, given to him after the war. His photographs include a variety of cultural, school, and youth group activities and people from Mielec before World War II, during the inter-war period. He also has photographs of post-war Mielec and correspondence with his Landsmannschaft and the organist. This is an unusual and rich collection. This previously unknown story of the organist helping deported members of the Jewish community, combined with other extant testimony and documentation from Nazi documents and Polish documents from post-war investigations will help to give Mielec its place in history.

Mielec map The testimonies in the Yad Vashem archive and other archives are in Polish, Hebrew, German, and English. Those not in English are being translated by competent translators. Nazi documents have also been translated, in an effort to understand why Mielec was chosen for this experiment, and why it was not repeated. A preliminary field investigation in Poland was made in May 2005. More intensive field research continues in May 2007 in in Mielec, as well as archival research in Krakow and possibly Przemysl. In addition, several survivors of either the town or the concentration camp have published their memoirs. There is a Yizkor book, and information in Pinkas Kehilla. Information from two books in Polish has been translated and is vital to this study.

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Dr. Rosa Ester Rossini, a member of the Advisory Board of Remember the Women Institute, is coordinator and Dr. Rochelle Saidel is part of the team that is editing a new edition of a guide on gender equality for Brazilian teachers. The guide is a project of NEMGE, the Center for the Study of Women and Social Relations of Gender at University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Eva Alterman Blay, a member of the Institute's Advisory Board, is the scientific coordinator of NEMGE.


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This ongoing project is analyzing the experiences of the Jewish immigrant women who came to São Paulo because of persecution in Europe during the German Third Reich. Using oral history interviews and written memoirs, some 25 women’s stories are included in the study.

The project’s purpose is to develop an understanding that Jewish women had to face certain issues not only because of their religion. The theoretical assumption is that within the universal suffering of all of the victims of the Holocaust and the general problems faced by all new immigrants, men’s and women's experiences were different. The study analyzes the specific issues of gender that made the female experience different from that of the male, examining both positive and negative gender-related aspects. Results of the study are projected to be published in both English and Portuguese, and will be made available to educational and cultural institutions. Interviews were done in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Women and Gender (NEMGE in Portuguese), University of São Paulo.

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