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Employees of a sewing workshop in the Lodz ghetto.Photo Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum5. Women in the Holocaust The views or opinions expressed in this journal, and the context in which the images are used, do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of, nor imply approval or endorsement by, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Professor Lenore J. Weitzman (USA) is the author/editor of five books and many articles including Women in the Holocaust(Yale, 1998) coedited with Professor Dalia Ofer. This seminal work focused attention on the importance of gender in the Second World War.She is now completing a book on “the Kashariyot”, the young women who were secret underground “couriers” for the Jewish resistance movements in the ghettos. This book chronicles their courageous missions to reach Jews trapped behind ghetto walls and to mobilise resistance, revolt and rescue. Lenore Weitzman has been a Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, the University of California, George Mason University and Harvard University, where she received the Phi Beta Kappa distinguished teaching award. Professor Weitzman was the keynote speaker during the Holocaust memorial ceremony in the United Nations General Assembly Hall, which was held on 10 February 2011.Professor Lenore J. WeitzmanUN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
Women in the Holocaustby Lenore J. WeitzmanProfessor Emeritus, George Mason UniversityWhy, you may ask, should we talk about WOMEN when we know that the Nazis murdered six million Jews without regard to whether they were men, women, or children?1One answer is that concen-trating on a particular group helps us break down that daunting number of six million, and helps us think about individuals .When we hear about a mother who saved the one piece of bread she was given in the ghetto factory for “lunch”, to take home to share with her emaciated children; and when we hear about the teenage girl who was helping her grandmother, and held her arm on the ramp at Auschwitz, and ended up being sent to the gas chambers with her, we understand that these were ordinary women like us — like our mothers, and our sisters, and like our daughters and granddaughters — ordinary innocent people who were caught up in Nazi terror .A second answer is that a focus on women provides us with a more detailed, more nuanced and more complete understanding of what happened to Jews during the Holocaust .1 I am indebted to Professor Dalia Ofer of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, my co-author of the original article on “Women in the Holocaust”, which is the basis for this talk. It was first published in our coedited book Women in the Holocaust(Yale University Press, 1998).
52 The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach ProgrammeThis paper explores three spheres of gender differences:First, how the roles of women before the war shaped their expe-riences during the Holocaust; second, how German policy treated women differently; and third, how Jewish women developed differ-ent ways of coping in the ghettos and the camps .