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 Rochelle Saidel

Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel displays her award as one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century. Photo: Karen Shulman

Women's eNews Honors 21 Leaders for the 21st Century

Remember the Women Institute's Executive Director Is Among the 21

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Jumeirah Marriott Essex House
160 Central Park South, New York City

Women's eNews held an event on May 5, 2015, to honor 21 individuals chosen by this prestigious on-line news service as Leaders for the 21st Century. This year's honorees are those who are "challenging the dominant narratives through words and deeds,” with the theme of "making the facts be known." According to Women's eNews, "the interruption of the powerful narratives that shape and reinforce cultures is a primary requirement for the movement for the equality and equity of women and girls. This task is central to our mission.... These 20 women and one man recast the stories of women and girls through words and deeds." Likewise, this task is central to the mission of Remember the Women Institute. Among the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century is Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, founder and executive director of Remember the Women Institute. Women's eNews honors her for commitment to giving Jewish women their place in Holocaust history. She is one of seven people who "give life to movements" and are "dedicated to improving lives of women and girls," according to Women's eNews. The recognition by Women's eNews of Dr. Saidel's work through Remember the Women Institute is significant, she said, because it draws awareness to women's experiences during the Holocaust—both their suffering as women and their heroism. Remember the Women Institute is proud that our work has been acknowledged along with that of the worthy and impressive causes connected with the other twenty people named Leaders for the 21st Century.

 Rochelle Saidel

Drawing by Flash Rosenberg. Created in real time during Rochelle Saidel's acceptance speech. Gallery of all drawings from the event.

Remarks by Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel at the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Women's eNews 2015 event (each awardee was alotted two minutes to speak)

"I would like to thank Women's eNews for this honor and congratulate all of the esteemed honorees. As everyone in this room knows, women have always been left out of history. When I had the rare opportunity to visit Ravensbrück women's concentration camp, then in East Germany, in 1980, I was doubly shocked. First, almost no one in the West had ever heard about this women's camp that had held about 130,000 of the Nazis' female victims. Second, there was no evidence at the camp memorial that any Jewish woman had ever been a prisoner there. Both the women's camp and the camp's Jewish victims had been written out of history. A colleague who was with me said I went crazy that day in 1980, and maybe I did. But it was a good kind of crazy, because this was the genesis of my work on giving women their place in Holocaust history.

"Since that day 35 years ago, through Remember the Women Institute, I have worked to change the narrative so that women's experiences as women are an important part of the story. Remember the Women Institute has produced books, museum exhibits, events, films, and academic programs, all geared to telling the varied stories of women during the Holocaust. One book is about our New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia's sister, Gemma, a Jewish prisoner in Ravensbrück. The Institute introduced the topic of sexual violence during the Holocaust, something that Holocaust institutions still don't want to discuss (publishing a book I co-edited with Dr. Sonja M. Hedgepeth). We created a resource handbook on Women, Theatre, and the Holocaust that goes way beyond Anne Frank (publishing a resource handbook that I created with Karen Shulman). Remember the Women Institute also works with others who deal with sexual violence during later genocides. And on June 3, you are invited to join us at a film premiere about an amazing virtually unknown heroine of the Holocaust, Haviva Reick. Our website will provide you with all the details. This recognition is really for all of the women who were victims of the Holocaust, those who survived and those who did not. Just as it is our duty to understand what they endured, it is our obligation to do all we can to prevent violence against women today. Thank you."

Press release (PDF 280K)

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