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British Association for Holocaust Studies

British Association for Holocaust Studies
University of Birmingham, Great Britain
July 21-22 2015

Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel delivered a keynote address on the topic of "Giving Women their Place in Holocaust History" at the second annual conference of the British Association of Holocaust Studies (BAHS), held at University of Birmingham, UK, on July 21-22, 2015. The theme of the conference was: "Another Time, Another Place? Challenges in Commemorating, Teaching and Researching the Holocaust 70 Years On." BAHS is a body of academics, educators, practitioners, heritage professionals, charities, and others working in the area of Holocaust Studies across the UK. It was founded in 2013, in collaboration with Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History, in order to bridge the gap and provide a space for discussion among the different organizations and individuals. (Dr. Saidel is a member of the journal's editorial board.)

Dr. Saidel's lecture, which was open to the public, was sponsored by both BAHS and the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Birmingham. After pointing out that women have always been left out of history or underrepresented, and that the period of the Holocaust was no exception, Saidel reviewed the highlights of giving women their place in Holocaust history, as well as some examples of lost opportunities. After outlining the evolution of the subject of women and the Holocaust in general, beginning with the 1983 conference organized by Joan Ringelheim and Esther Katz at Stern College, New York, the lecture addressed the issue of rape and sexual abuse. Saidel said this was the last frontier for the inclusion of women's experiences in the Holocaust narrative, and discussed how the publication of Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust (Hedgepeth and Saidel, 2010) led to inclusion of the subject in sessions and plenaries at various conferences. She pointed out, using examples, that it still remains taboo among some scholars, as well as in most Holocaust museums and memorials.

The lecture also focused on relatively unknown women, giving them and others in similar circumstances their places in Holocaust history. Special emphasis was given to Haviva Reick. Although no one in the room knew who she was, she was a member of the SOE, the British Special Operations Executive, and she was murdered in Slovakia on November 20, 1944, while wearing a British military uniform. Like the much better known Hannah Szenes, she was recruited for the mission of parachutists who went back to their native countries from British Mandate Palestine. Saidel urged the BAHS members to find an appropriate way to commemorate Reick in the United Kingdom.

British Association of Holocaust Studies

Photo, left: Participants at the British Association for Holocaust Studies attending Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel's keynote address at University of Birmingham on July 21, 2015. Photo, right: Left to right: Dr. Isabel Wollaston, University of Birmingham, local conference coordinator; Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel; Dr. K. Hannah Holtschneider, University of Edinburgh, conference committee and a managing editor of Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History. Photos by Sarah Jeffery

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