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I recently read three different and very worthwhile books that have in common the subject of women and the Holocaust. The first is written as a play, the second is a sociological study, and the third is a collection of short stories.

Silence Not, A Love Story by Cindy Cooper (Gihon River Press, 2009) asks us to imagine a Munich train station in 1938 and focuses on a young Jewish woman in the resistance. Based on the true story of Gisa Peiper and her Catholic boyfriend, Paul Konopka, the play is about the couple's love for each other and for humanity. Unlike others who joined resistance groups in Nazi Germany, this couple survived and married. Gisa devoted her life afterward to helping others.

Memorializing the Holocaust: Gender, Genocide and Collective Memory by Jane Jacobs (I.B, Tauris, 2010) is the first book to explore gender in the collective memory of the Holocaust and genocide. After visiting concentration camp memorials, Jacobs analyzed how gender plays a role in memorialization. A professor of sociology and women and gender studies at University of Colorado, Jacobs uncovers ways in which images of violence against women have become universal symbols of mass trauma and genocide.

Four Women from Ravensbrück by Roberta Kalechofsky (Micha Publications, 2011) is a collection stories that have the Holocaust in common. The title story fictionalizes from the fact that the Dachau hypothermia "medical" experiments included using women prisoners to try to sexually revive dying male prisoners. Although some historical facts (e.g., the colors of triangles the Ravensbrück prisoners wore) should have been better researched, the general narrative is compelling. The author chose four categories of women prisoners, imagining their feelings and conversations as this horrendous experiment was forced upon them. While I read the book because of its title, I also liked the other stories: a priest brings groups of Jewish children to visit Nazi concentration camp memorials; a girl in Chile is branded with a "J" by German immigrant children; early political prisoners in Oranienburg; and a man wants to stop the cattle cars heading for a death camp.


The Remember the Women Institute welcomes reviews of books pertaining to women and history for our on-line library. Please contact Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel with your inquiries.

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