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row and Germans counted each prisoner, every single day, by number, people stood for hours every day first thing in the morning, no matter the weather. Hellen comments, “this is the way they wore us down, they wanted to wear us down” (Yale, 2014). Most women prisoners at Auschwitz survived only a few weeks or months. Those who were too ill or too weak to work were sentenced to death. Some committed suicide by throwing themselves against the electric wires. Yet other women prisoners were determined to stay alive. For example, after Helen’s bother died in her arms, she recalls, “I made up mind that I was going to defy Hitler. I’m not going to give in, because he wants me to die, I’m going to live, I’m going
to just be very very strong” (Yale, 2014). So, clearly prisoners state of mind, really did matter, women who had that inner strength, and a dynamic willpower survived. 2C: How Jewish Women Coped in the Ghettos and Concentration Camps: In the Warsaw Jews were forced into overcrowded ghettos and trapped behind walls. They were stripped of their homes and possessions, and cut off from their jobs, offices and businesses. “Jewish men, especially those who were most visible because of their beards and traditional clothing, were immediately targeted for beatings, humiliation, harassment, arrest and execution” (Dalia, 2009). In Warsaw Ghetto, for example, about half of the people had no jobs and were starving to death; most of them were women and children. Many Jewish men were simply afraid to leave their homes during the day because Jewish men were circumcised, making them an easy target for Jewish identification. So, lots of Jewish men heavily relied on their wives and daughters to deal with troubles outside of their homes. As a result, Jewish wives and daughters in a sense manned up, and began to take over many of their husband’s or fathers prior roles. For example, “the distinguished historian of the Warsaw ghetto, Emmanuel Ringelblum wrote in his diary: “(The) men don’t go out....She stands on the long line (for bread) ....When there is need to go to the Gestapo, the daughter or wife goes....The women are everywhere....(Women) who never thought of working are now performing the most difficult physical work” (Ringelblum, 1992)”. Another perfect example of women taking over is when only Helen’s mother, younger brother and herself were left in the Warsaw Ghetto, she states, “I remember I went over to a German solider and I said to him, I’ll give you a diamond ring, give me papers for my mother” (Yale, 2014). She was fifteen years of age at this time, you’d think who would dare do that, but she did,
and she got those papers, because without papers people just did not have a chance. Though in the end, despite all of their efforts, most women simply could not manage to support their families. The odds in the ghetto were stacked against them, most of them slowly drained themselves. In Helen’s case her mother was extremely dependent on her husband, and when the