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Past Projects

Conferences: Addressing the Issue Of Sexual Abuse
Gender Equality: New Brazilian Teacher Guide For Gender Equality In The Classroom

Exhibition: Women of Ravensbrück: Portraits of Courage
Ongoing Research Project: Antisemitism and Sexism: Jewish Women Who Immigrated to Brazil


Addressing the Issue Of Sexual Abuse

Forced prostitution, a related issue, is somewhat easier to document. Research on this has developed further in Germany than in the United States. A special conference at the Ravensbrück women's concentration camp memorial addressed the issue in September, with papers by mainly German scholars. Women from Ravensbrück and other camps were routinely taken to men's camps to serve as prostitutes for Nazis and privileged male prisoners.

Dr. Sonja Hedgepeth of Middle Tennessee State University was the representative of both her university and Remember the Women Institute at this conference. In addition to bringing back and sharing information, the conference was an opportunity to dialogue with scholars from Germany and other countries. For a complete program and list of participating scholars, please see

At a conference on the Holocaust at Middle Tennessee State University on November 8 – 10, Dr. Hedgepeth and Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel co-chaired a ground-breaking session organized by Remember the Women Institute and entitled “Sexual Coercion of Women During the Holocaust.” Featured presentations were “Silenced by Death, Silenced by Shame: Sexual Abuse in the Ghetto” by Helene J. Sinnreich, Ph.D., Director, Judaic and Holocaust Studies, Youngstown State University (; and “Gendered Violence: Rape in the Nazi-occupied East” by Monika Flaschka, Doctoral candidate, Modern European History, Kent State University and Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellow for Archival Research, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2007. Dr. Hedgepeth also reported on the September conference at the Ravensbrück memorial.

In addition to the German scholars and those mentioned above, some members of the Remember the Women Institute have worked on the issue of sexual abuse of women during the Holocaust, including Dr. Myrna Goldenberg, Dr. Ellen Ben-Sefer, and Dr. Miriam Sivan. Dr. Goldenberg is continuing to focus on rape in her research, and recently presented a paper on the subject at a genocide conference in Sarajevo. Dr. Zoë Waxman, Royal Holloway, University of London, presented a related paper at the spring 2007 conference on the Holocaust at Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

The subject of sexual abuse of women during the Holocaust has been addressed in literature, as early as Ka-tzetnik's House of Dolls, first published in English in 1956. Nava Semel, an outstanding contemporary Israeli novelist, wrote about the sexual abuse of a girl in hiding in The Rat Laughs (in Hebrew, soon to be published in English in Australia). However, much more academic research still needs to be carried out and reported.

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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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Pittsburgh Holocaust Center, Pittsburgh, PA. (October—December, 2002)
Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL. (February—September, 2001)

Detail, Terwilliger panelAn art and history exhibit from the Florida Holocaust Museum, Saint Petersburg, opened in October 2002 in the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh. Sponsored by the Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation and the American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, the exhibit ran for two months. The exhibit, which originally opened at the Florida Holocaust Museum on February 10, 2001 and ran through September 9, 2001, was curated and produced by Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, through the Remember the Women Institute. Entitled Women of Ravensbrück: Portraits of Courage, the exhibit is centered around seven large panels with mixed media and photo transfer images of Ravensbrück women, created by Florida artist Julia Terwilliger (detail pictured left and below). The artist also created a 10-foot memorial triangle and an “artifacts” installation. The original exhibit includes rare artifacts by inmates of the camp, such as a handmade recipe book.

Detail 2, Terwilliger panel







Dr. Saidel at exhibit in FloridaTo complete the exhibit, Dr. Saidel (pictured left) created seventeen panels on the history and background of this women’s concentration camp. In addition, she organized fourteen panels of photographs and texts about individual victims, to demonstrate the broad spectrum of women from 23 nations imprisoned in the camp.
This unique exhibit on Ravensbrück is designed to foster an understanding of why and how women experienced the Holocaust differently from men.

Julia Terwilliger was an artist who taught at the University of Central Florida. After her untimely death at the age of 50 in 1998, her husband, Bert Alan Terwilliger donated her artwork to the Florida Holocaust Museum.
Dr. Saidel at exhibit in Pittsburgh

Dr. Saidel was the keynote speaker for the opening event of the Pittsburgh exhibit on October 14, 2002 (pictured right).

The accompanying catalogue can be viewed online (courtesy Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota) or ordered directly from the
Florida Holocaust Museum

55 South Fifth Street
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701.

This exhibition is available for travel.

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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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