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Brooks 1Briannah BrooksProfessor GillermanJS 211T,Th 2:008 April 2018The Holocaust: Gender MatteredThe Holocaust is often looked at through a single lens, focused only on the victim population as a whole. This is likely due to the amount of available and/or famous material that emphasizes primarily that. Additionally, many works that attempt to alter this lens do so through race or religion. Instead, I’m going to explore the variety of experiences during the Holocaust through the lens of gender and specifically how it affected victims of Nazi rule during the war. Examining differences through gender is essential in understanding the reality of the Holocaust because it reveals a lot about the daily experiences of life as a woman, as well as offering insight about how Aryan and non-Aryan men treated Jewish women during the war.While gender is a valuable and essential topic when examining life under Nazi control, it doesn’t discredit that anti-Semitism that was at the root of the Holocaust. Those subject toharsh Nazi rule included anyone who was: Jewish, Gypsy (Roma and Sinti) or considered a threat/enemy of the nation. Moreover, being German in Nazi Germany didn’t guarantee
Brooks 2safety. The disabled and asocial population were also persecuted along with anyone belonging to or protecting someone in a political group opposed to Nazi policies (Reading). The experiences under Nazi rule varied based on gender and the consequences of not acknowledging that it did risks misrepresenting the reality of the Holocaust. Author Joan Ringelheim argues that much of the work reflecting on the Holocaust excludes experiences from the female perspective resulting in inaccuracies. One way this has occurred is through the lack of available material. It can be difficult getting women to speak about things like being raped or trading sex for food. Perhaps these topics resurrect painful memories or seemtoo shameful to discuss. However, one survivor credited her own silence to its lack of importance. Sexually abused at age 11 while in hiding, she referred to it as “trivial” in the scope of things (Ringelheim). This doesn’t mean that her experiences and suffering doesn’t matter. It matters. Rather, downplaying such trauma further emphasizes the severity and desperation that she felt under Nazi rule.Considering gender when examining the Holocaust could expand our understanding of it and offer more accurate insight into the unimaginable events that took place. Gender shaped victim experiences from the very beginning. During the flight period, many left Germany if they could. However, many women were robbed of this choice due to familial obligations. As a result, a lot of women were stuck under Nazi power not because they wouldn’t have left, but because they couldn’t, even before travel was completely restricted.