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EUROPEAN SUMMER UNIVERSITY AT RAVENSBRÜCK CONCENTRATION CAMP MEMORIAL

DR. ROCHELLE G. SAIDEL TO LECTURE AT RAVENSBRÜCK CONCENTRATION CAMP MEMORIAL

RED FERN THEATRE COMPANY PARTNERS WITH REMEMBER THE WOMEN INSTITUTE FOR CHARLOTTE DELBO PLAY

EXHIBITION ABOUT FIORELLO'S SISTER: GEMMA LA GUARDIA GLUCK'S STORY

SPECIAL EXHIBIT ON JEWISH WOMEN FEATURED AT MAHN- UND GEDENKSTÄTTE RAVENSBRÜCK IN 2008


September 15 – 19, 2008

RAVENSBRÜCK SUMMER UNIVERSITY HELD AT THE CAMP MEMORIAL IN GERMANY

This year's theme is “Commemorating the Shoah at Sites of Former Concentration Camps in Western and Eastern Europe: History, Representation, Gender,” for the Summer University held at the camp memorial from September 15 – 19. 

Dedicated to the remembrance of the Shoah at sites of former concentration camps, the program. focuses on the question of the function and meaning of gender in various representations. The genesis, forms and narratives of memory will be discussed.

While key aspects are the historiography of the Shoah and the history of memory in Western and Eastern Europe, there is also a session that includes memorialization of the camp in the United States and Israel--a panel discussion  entitled “The Memory of Ravensbrück in the USA, Israel, Great Britain and France.”

Dr. Rochelle Saidel, representing Remember the Women Institute, discusses how the camp has been represented and remembered in the United States. Prof. Dr. Mechtild Gilzmer of Technische Universität Berlin will discuss France; Sarah Helm covers, Great Britain; and Dr. Susanne Urban of Yad Vashem, speaks about Israel.

Dr. Sonja Hedgepeth, Middle Tennessee State University, also represents Remember the Women Institute at the conference, which is under the patronage of the Minister of Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg, Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, Dr. Insa Eschebach,a member of the Advisory Board of Remember the Women Institute, is director of the memorial.  Remember the Women Institute Advisory Board Member Prof. Sara Horowitz of York University also spoke at the conference.

For a complete program, please see: http://www.ravensbrueck.de/mgr/english/home/index.htm

Ravensbrück Seminar

Pictured above, left to right: Dr. Sonja Hedgepeth, Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, and Dr. Insa Eschebach, Director of the Ravensbrück Memorial, at the Summer University in September 2008. Photo by Carolyn Gammon.


February 21 - March 2, 2008
Who Will Carry the Word posterWho Will Carry the Word?
Red Fern Theatre Company
Center Stage, 48 West 21st Street, New York City


Remember the Women Institute is honored that Red Fern co-founders Emilie E. Miller and Melanie Moyer Williams chose the Institute as their partner for their rare and fascinating performance. Who Will Carry the Word? by Auschwitz and Ravensbrück French political prisoner Charlotte Delbo, directed by Melanie Moyer Williams. The play was presented by Red Fern Theatre Company on February 21 - March 2, 2008 at Center Stage, 48 West 21st Street, New York City.  Remember the Women Institute is grateful that a portion of the proceeds was donated to the Institute to support our educational activities.  Please see http://www.redferntheatre.org/red_fern_theatre_philanthropies.asp

A special “talk back” session followed the March 1 performance, with the participation of Remember the Women Institute. There was a question and answer session with Auschwitz survivor Bronia Brandman, a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, director of Remember the Women Institute. A wine and cheese reception ended the special evening. For more information about Red Fern and their socially conscious productions, see http://www.redferntheatre.org/red_fern_theatre_home.asp

Charlotte Delbo was one of 230 French female political prisoners deported to Auschwitz on January 24, 1943. Most of them had worked for the French Resistance. Delbo, one of 49 of those women who survived, served as an assistant to French theatrical director and actor Louis Jouvet. Born in 1913, she was a member of the Communist Youth before World War II. She is the author of several essays and books, and numerous plays. Her play, Who Will Carry the Word?, written in 1966 and first performed in 1974, attempts to depict life in Auschwitz at the time she was living it. The 23 women in her play live in such dire circumstances that even their individuality has been taken from them. She also demonstrates the fine line between life and death in the concentration camp. A survivor of both Auschwitz and Ravensbrück, Delbo considered it her obligation to “carry the word” so that the Holocaust, and experiences of women during the Holocaust, are not forgotten. Delbo died in 1985.

At the Performance

Pictured above, left to right: Emilie E. Miller, Bronia Brandman, Melanie Moyer Williams, and Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel at the March 1, 2008 performance of Who Will Carry the Word? (photo courtesy of Red Fern Theatre Company).

Red Fern Cast

The cast of Who Will Carry the Word?, comprised of 23 outstanding professional actresses who volunteered their time and talent. (photo courtesy of Red Fern Theatre Company)


JANUARY 25, 2008
Final Day of Exhibition about FIORELLO'S SISTER: GEMMA LA GUARDIA GLUCK'S STORY
Now Available to Travel

Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, One West Fourth Street, New York, has concluded an exhibit of photographs, documents, and artifacts related to Fiorello's Sister: Gemma La Guardia Gluck's Story, a memoir edited by Rochelle G. Saidel and published in Spring 2007 by Syracuse University Press. Dr. Saidel is guest curator, in cooperation with Laura Kruger and Jean Bloch Rosensaft. The exhibition is now available to be shown in other locations. Contact Laura Kruger at Hebrew Union College.

Dr. Saidel and Laura Kruger
On December 12, 2007, Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel signed books at a reception and program in connection with the exhibition about Fiorello's Sister: Gemma La Guardia Gluck's Story. Laura Kruger, curator of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is at right of photograph. Photo by Sonja Hedgepeth.

Visitors view the exhibition

Visitors view the exhibition about Fiorello's Sister: Gemma La Guardia Gluck's Story at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York City. Photo by Sonja Hedgepeth.


Special Exhibit on Jewish Women Featured at Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück in 2008
Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück, Berlin

When I first visited the Ravensbrück memorial some fifty miles outside of Berlin in October 1980, it was part of the German Democratic Republic. Much of the area of the former concentration camp for women was then being used by the Soviet Army, and I did not have access to the grounds. Instead, I was accompanied by a German Communist former prisoner who showed me exhibits in the buildings that had housed the SS offices and the punishment bunker. I also saw the crematorium and a memorial wall of nations. The exhibitions in the bunker were designed according to nationalities. There was absolutely no evidence that any Jewish woman had ever been imprisoned in this concentration camp. I had almost no knowledge about the camp at the time, but I thought this seemed peculiar. Therefore I questioned my guide. In response she told me that one German Communist heroine, Olga Benario Prestes, had coincidentally been Jewish, and there had been a Jewish barrack.

My visit to the camp memorial on that October day more than 27 years ago led me to dedicating myself to discovering and documenting the history of the camp's Jewish victims. I learned that they came from most of the countries in Europe and even originally from the United States, in the case of Gemma La Guardia Gluck. They came first as German and Austrian political prisoners, and even these women were additionally marked as Jewish. After Hungary was taken over by the Nazis in March 1944 many Jewish women were sent to the camp. And thousands more were sent there on death marches after Auschwitz was liquidated in January 1945. The total is an estimated 20,000 Jewish women. All of this is told in detail in my book, The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp.

Soon before the unification of Germany, the GDR did install a small monument to the Jewish victims along the wall of the nations. The Communist-oriented wording seems odd today, but nevertheless a memorial did exist. Later, for the 1995 fiftieth anniversary of liberation ceremonies, a memorial room for Jewish victims was in place in the bunker, among those representing various nations. But the Jewish presence has always been underplayed, both at the memorial and even among some historians. Jewish survivors of the camp were not organized, and much of the memorialization over the years had been carried out by European survivor organizations that had few or no Jewish members, and often were politically oriented. For a very long time, the Jewish survivors “got lost in the shuffle.”

I thought of all of this with great emotion in October 2007, when I was once again on the road leading to Ravensbrück—my seventh visit to the memorial. My primary purpose for this trip was to be interviewed on site for a documentary film by Rosemarie Reed. However, I had also been asked by Dr. Insa Eschebach, director of the Ravensbrück memorial and a member of the Remember the Women Institute Advisory Board, to meet with Dr. Simone Erpel. A historian on staff at the memorial, Dr. Erpel was organizing an exhibit on the Jewish Victims of Ravensbrück, which opened on January 27, 2008 and will run for a year. I was more than glad to meet with her and help by providing photographs that she requested for the exhibition. I was even more pleased that after all these years—more than 62 since the camp's liberation and 27 since my first visit—there is finally a special exhibit that honors the Jewish victims of the camp.
by Rochelle G. Saidel

A yellow Star of David
A yellow Star of David, in case, is part of a new exhibition on Jewish women at Ravensbrück concentration camp, on view at the memorial through 2008. Photograph courtesy of Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück.

new exhibit on Jewish women at Ravensbrück
A view of the room housing a new exhibit on Jewish women at Ravensbrück, to be shown throughout the year at the memorial. Photograph courtesy of Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück.

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