When they lost family members during the Holocaust, many Jewish women and girls formed substitute “families” with other women. These sisterhoods were particularly important inside concentration camps, where the bonds formed between women often helped them survive constant danger.
This lecture explores the phenomenon of camp shvesters (sisters) with Dr. Michael Berenbaum, world-renowned historian and Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute at American Jewish University. The program was co-presented by the Museum and Project Witness.
Watch the program below.
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Ari Goldstein: I'm Ari Goldstein Senior Public programs producer at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust.
00:00:45.120 --> 00:00:52.950
Ari Goldstein: it's a pleasure to welcome you to today's lecture on when families disappeared campus festers or camp sisters, but Dr Michael berenbaum.
00:00:53.790 --> 00:01:00.600
Ari Goldstein: we're proud to co present today's program with project witness an organization doing essential Holocaust education, work here in New York.
00:01:01.320 --> 00:01:12.720
Ari Goldstein: The museum and project witness work together to organize today's program because we feel it's more essential now than ever to learn and teach about the experiences of Jews and especially Jewish women under Nazi rule.
00:01:13.230 --> 00:01:18.990
Ari Goldstein: Both to commemorate their lived experiences and so that we can learn the lessons of their experiences for a world today.
00:01:20.040 --> 00:01:25.620
Ari Goldstein: In a moment we'll hear from my colleague project witness free to alicia in ski and then from Dr Michael berenbaum.
00:01:26.910 --> 00:01:39.060
Ari Goldstein: During michael's lecture please feel free to share questions in the zoom chat or i'm sorry the zoom Q amp a box and will include as many as we can in a Q amp a portion at the end of the program without further ado i'll hand things off now to freedom missions view.
00:01:40.110 --> 00:01:46.200
Frieda Loshinsky: Thank you IRA welcome everyone, and thank you for your patience, while we are going through some technical difficulties.
00:01:46.560 --> 00:01:50.700
Frieda Loshinsky: My name is cradle the Shin ski i'm the program coordinator of project witness.
00:01:50.970 --> 00:01:58.740
Frieda Loshinsky: on behalf of ruthless and stained the founder and director of project witness we'd like to welcome you to Dr Michael burnham's presentation.
00:01:58.980 --> 00:02:09.990
Frieda Loshinsky: Of when families disappeared cash registers or sisters, we are proud to join the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust and hosting today's lecture to you.
00:02:10.710 --> 00:02:21.000
Frieda Loshinsky: today's topic delves into the bonds that were formed between women in concentration camps, which often help them survive the most unimaginable and impossible circumstances.
00:02:21.360 --> 00:02:30.540
Frieda Loshinsky: we're very excited for Dr Byrne bounce fascinating lecture so let's get started it's after birnbaum a world renowned historian is the director of.
00:02:31.320 --> 00:02:36.330
Frieda Loshinsky: Institute and a professor of Jewish studies at the American Jewish University in La.
00:02:36.870 --> 00:02:52.320
Frieda Loshinsky: He was the project director overseeing the creation of US hmm and was the first director of its research institute he later served as its President and CEO of the show out visual history foundation which took the testimony of.
00:02:53.970 --> 00:03:01.110
Frieda Loshinsky: Holocaust survivors from 57 countries his work in film has won both academy and emmy awards.
00:03:01.590 --> 00:03:13.710
Frieda Loshinsky: that's a birnbaum was the author and editor of 22 books scores of scholarly articles hundreds of journalistic pieces and was the executive editor of the second edition of the encyclopedia judaica.
00:03:14.130 --> 00:03:23.070
Frieda Loshinsky: He won the Simon rock over memorial award the American Jewish Press Association three times three categories over two years.
00:03:23.580 --> 00:03:33.720
Frieda Loshinsky: Dr birnbaum is a dear friend and consultant to both the Museum of Jewish heritage and to project witness, it is my true honor and pleasure to welcome Dr mark birnbaum.
00:03:35.550 --> 00:03:36.840
Michael Berenbaum: Thank you very much freedom.
00:03:37.950 --> 00:03:48.540
Michael Berenbaum: I have to apologize to everyone, I have been having technical difficulties this morning somehow between two computers and iPhone we've barely been able to connect.
00:03:49.830 --> 00:03:56.430
Michael Berenbaum: So we've been barely able to connect and consequently we had some difficulties, so I apologize blake.
00:03:57.570 --> 00:04:06.000
Michael Berenbaum: Being that and being formerly from New York, I can speak quickly, which will allow us to cover the material, let me first thank my.
00:04:07.020 --> 00:04:21.990
Michael Berenbaum: The people who have invited me the museum Jewish heritage and New York City, which I have worked with, and also my colleagues at project witness which i've also worked with and enjoyed my association with both institutions.
00:04:23.070 --> 00:04:34.410
Michael Berenbaum: Let me begin the long way about, and that is let's begin by talking about how the subject of women got introduced the Holocaust studies.
00:04:35.100 --> 00:04:50.520
Michael Berenbaum: And what the evolution has been in there for what we've learned about the experience of women in particular and then talk about what is unique to the woman's experience within the Holocaust.
00:04:51.870 --> 00:04:56.550
Michael Berenbaum: It doesn't take much to imagine that the issue of feminism and feminist.
00:04:58.470 --> 00:04:59.520
Michael Berenbaum: And feminist.
00:05:01.230 --> 00:05:13.080
Michael Berenbaum: Studies had been coming forward with regard to every field of human endeavor and it also came forward very strongly with regard to the Holocaust.
00:05:13.710 --> 00:05:29.670
Michael Berenbaum: That originally led to a tremendous clash, and the clash was wait a minute here you're talking about women, but the reason that the women were killed was because they were Jews.
00:05:30.120 --> 00:05:52.050
Michael Berenbaum: And we can't distinguish between the victim groups of Jews, on the basis of gender and don't use the Holocaust, to verify or to make particular claims about gender theories and about feminist theories and it's a misuse of the experience.
00:05:53.340 --> 00:05:56.250
Michael Berenbaum: I have a also a particular.
00:05:58.410 --> 00:06:08.280
Michael Berenbaum: Experience with that in three ways I refereed the one of the earliest books on women and the Holocaust.
00:06:09.060 --> 00:06:26.520
Michael Berenbaum: and found that it was describing a phenomenon of victimization without describing anything else that was involved in the experience and touching on some of the unique dimensions of the woman's experience and asked that essentially.
00:06:28.020 --> 00:06:38.970
Michael Berenbaum: In addition to all of its major chapters that begin to consider certain other issues, the second thing that happened is I published with my friend john Ross.
00:06:39.990 --> 00:06:56.760
Michael Berenbaum: a wonderful volume called the Holocaust philosophical and religious implications, the volume was intriguing because it developed over an evenings conversation in which we both bemoaned.
00:06:59.100 --> 00:07:11.880
Michael Berenbaum: A problem that we had had, which is in those days, we had to copy everything that we were looking for, because there was no one place to find some of the major essays.
00:07:12.360 --> 00:07:25.950
Michael Berenbaum: On the Holocaust, we started talking and we went through what we considered the major essays on the Holocaust and we discovered that we had redone essentially we had used in our teaching.
00:07:27.000 --> 00:07:37.260
Michael Berenbaum: 15 of the same major essays and therefore we decided let's make a book out of it by collecting these essays and bring them together.
00:07:38.940 --> 00:08:00.840
Michael Berenbaum: My friend Carol written or who's a religious sister of mercy both the Roman Catholic nun and a very fine Holocaust scholar looked at our collection of essays and she noted we noticed one thing when we collected these says we noted that we noticed that half the people.
00:08:02.070 --> 00:08:05.370
Michael Berenbaum: On the cover had taken their own lives.
00:08:06.450 --> 00:08:15.330
Michael Berenbaum: And that frightened us in terms of one aspect of studying the Holocaust, because it meant that when you close come close to this material.
00:08:16.110 --> 00:08:31.980
Michael Berenbaum: It exact surprise and very often it exact a very heavy price on those who work with this material Carol notice something very different, and that is she noticed that we had almost no women.
00:08:32.880 --> 00:08:46.530
Michael Berenbaum: In the discussion and that our use of testimony did not bring any women's testimony and, as I like to say that gave rise to a very important collection of essays.
00:08:46.950 --> 00:09:08.040
Michael Berenbaum: called in a different voice women in the Holocaust and Carol wrote that book edited that book with my colleague john Ross and I discovered something after that, which is that I had not included in the very important canon of Holocaust literature, I had not included.
00:09:09.600 --> 00:09:10.200
Michael Berenbaum: The.
00:09:11.580 --> 00:09:19.860
Michael Berenbaum: voice of women and I had to begin, including the voice of women, the third thing happened, which is that.
00:09:22.230 --> 00:09:36.720
Michael Berenbaum: I had started paying attention in listening to oral histories, to the unique perspective of women and consequently it began to transform and change.
00:09:37.350 --> 00:09:45.120
Michael Berenbaum: A good deal of my understanding of how I read Holocaust literature and how I understood the event themselves.
00:09:45.780 --> 00:09:54.480
Michael Berenbaum: Over time, the rift between those who had a feminist perspective or let me say a feminist orthodoxy, and those who were.
00:09:54.840 --> 00:10:05.430
Michael Berenbaum: Holocaust historians Holocaust literary figures, and these are some of the giants of the field, including people like Lawrence Langer began to narrow tremendously.
00:10:06.060 --> 00:10:27.150
Michael Berenbaum: As we began to understand that we had to look at the totality of human experience and the totality of human experience differentiated in not differentiated it included some unique as some aspects of the experience that were unique to women.
00:10:28.170 --> 00:10:40.980
Michael Berenbaum: So let me give you a summary paragraph or two on what we say, is unique to women and then let's take through some of the testimonies as we understand them.
00:10:42.300 --> 00:10:47.730
Michael Berenbaum: Number one, we have to say that more women were killed than men.
00:10:49.980 --> 00:10:53.520
Michael Berenbaum: Let me documented in a very particular way.
00:10:55.020 --> 00:10:55.830
Michael Berenbaum: Number One.
00:10:57.450 --> 00:10:57.990
Michael Berenbaum: Women.
00:11:00.360 --> 00:11:19.830
Michael Berenbaum: During the beginning and of the evolution of the Holocaust men some men thought that the Nazis would target only men and that the Nazis would not go after women and children, and consequently many men escaped.
00:11:20.880 --> 00:11:32.760
Michael Berenbaum: In order to protect themselves, thinking that by that they were also protecting their families Lo and behold, that what happened, they could not imagine.
00:11:33.420 --> 00:11:53.430
Michael Berenbaum: Which is that they escaped into freedom and men and and women and children were left to be victimized women, in particular, therefore, died were murdered more in greater numbers than men, you all know that at the selection.
00:11:54.540 --> 00:11:55.350
Michael Berenbaum: At the ramp.
00:11:57.780 --> 00:12:18.720
Michael Berenbaum: And that is the moment after arrival, the groups would divided men were on one side, women and children are, on the other, and they were divided into groups of five before they underwent the selection and it was automatic that women with children were sent to their death.
00:12:20.400 --> 00:12:34.770
Michael Berenbaum: That meant that, if you take the population that has children under the age of 14 or 15 meaning those who could not pass for being over the age of 16.
00:12:35.490 --> 00:12:48.480
Michael Berenbaum: which was the quayside demarcation point for selection those women with young children were sent to the death their husbands and their older sons had a greater.
00:12:49.470 --> 00:13:03.840
Michael Berenbaum: probability, not a great probability, but a greater proper probability of a surviving consequently more women turned out to be victim than men.
00:13:04.590 --> 00:13:19.950
Michael Berenbaum: And we see that in the numbers killed, and we see that in the extraordinary experiences that women at let's now talk about for a moment, some of the unique experiences of women.
00:13:21.480 --> 00:13:24.840
Michael Berenbaum: let's turn to a very important moment.
00:13:26.880 --> 00:13:38.700
Michael Berenbaum: in which women showed a tremendous and a tremendous amount of resiliency and a tremendous amount of creativity, imagination and during.
00:13:40.350 --> 00:13:46.590
Michael Berenbaum: You all know that between 1933 and 1938 his family had to make a.
00:13:47.910 --> 00:13:55.230
Michael Berenbaum: difficult decision if they were in Germany, and that is the decision is, do we leave or do we stay.
00:13:56.580 --> 00:14:09.270
Michael Berenbaum: And the question of do we leave or do we stay is an intriguing question because it means what's the moment that which you give up everything you have, and you go into the unknown.
00:14:10.230 --> 00:14:18.270
Michael Berenbaum: Because you understand that your situation is deteriorating and it's getting terrible and keep in mind something else.
00:14:19.590 --> 00:14:33.120
Michael Berenbaum: Which is that and I want to use analogy, if you put a frog into water and you heat up the water gradually the frog will stay and be cooked alive.
00:14:34.320 --> 00:14:43.170
Michael Berenbaum: If you drop a frog and i'm not God forbid, suggesting this if you drop a frog into boiling water, it will jump out immediately.
00:14:43.860 --> 00:15:05.430
Michael Berenbaum: meaning if the situation gets worse dramatically immediately and it becomes clear to everyone that it's intolerable, then a whole range of people take the bus have the possibility of leaving and they take the steps necessary to leave if the situation deteriorates slowly.
00:15:06.480 --> 00:15:20.100
Michael Berenbaum: Then it takes a certain different measure in order to leave want to occur one set it in the following way, if you want to crystallize it the lake water will occur of blessed memory said.
00:15:21.300 --> 00:15:31.560
Michael Berenbaum: The pessimists left the optimists died meaning if you said, the situation is bad and it's getting worse tomorrow will be worse than yesterday.
00:15:31.980 --> 00:15:41.070
Michael Berenbaum: You took the steps that were necessary to leave, however difficult they were and I don't want to minimize how difficult they were and if.
00:15:41.730 --> 00:15:46.890
Michael Berenbaum: A little bit you said, I believe that the German people will come to their senses.
00:15:47.610 --> 00:15:58.140
Michael Berenbaum: I believe that the allies will not allow this to happen that a whole range of things will take place and you're optimistic or, for example in Hungary that.
00:15:58.560 --> 00:16:12.330
Michael Berenbaum: it's not going to happen in Hungary, then you stayed and very often you stayed until it was too late, what is the moment at which German Jewish women showed their capacity.
00:16:13.380 --> 00:16:21.330
Michael Berenbaum: was a very intriguing moment after the November programs November 1938 programs that are known as Kristallnacht.
00:16:22.320 --> 00:16:32.160
Michael Berenbaum: And the reason I use the 1938 programs is in contemporary German is great they believe that Kristallnacht, which was a term invented by the Nazis.
00:16:32.550 --> 00:16:40.800
Michael Berenbaum: The night of broken glass Crystal and krystal is supposed to be beautiful and fragile crystal glass the night of the broken glass.
00:16:41.520 --> 00:16:55.200
Michael Berenbaum: is to beautify an event that was horrific and they now call it the 1938 rights pogroms the pogroms being a word that is well known in Jewish history and therefore.
00:16:55.860 --> 00:17:12.150
Michael Berenbaum: descriptive of an event that is episodic hora in which the police were I the perpetrators are by standards and then which the mob rules, you know that more than thousand synagogues were burned 7000.
00:17:14.160 --> 00:17:23.970
Michael Berenbaum: Businesses were looted and destroyed and 30,000 men aged 16 to 60 were arrested.
00:17:25.140 --> 00:17:32.190
Michael Berenbaum: that's a moment in which, if you think of the question of optimistic pessimist.
00:17:33.450 --> 00:17:49.200
Michael Berenbaum: And you think that your husband your son your brother your father is in a concentration camp and at that point, if a man was in a concentration camp if a Jewish man was in a concentration camp and he would.
00:17:50.580 --> 00:17:51.450
Michael Berenbaum: could prove.
00:17:52.800 --> 00:18:09.630
Michael Berenbaum: That within a fortnight, he would leave the country, it was possible to get out of the camps, that was a window of opportunity in 1938 and 1939 that closed very quickly.
00:18:10.980 --> 00:18:23.100
Michael Berenbaum: And once the window of opportunity closed very quickly, then it was impossible to get out but in November 1938 and early 1939 if you could leave.
00:18:24.750 --> 00:18:36.090
Michael Berenbaum: And prove you could leave that's the moment in which you could be get out of the concentration camp once your husband your son your father your brother was in the camp.
00:18:36.990 --> 00:18:59.370
Michael Berenbaum: Then Jewish women, and it was only Jewish women because there weren't adult Jewish men around at that point only Jewish women began the enormously Herculean task of finding a place to go the means by which to buy tickets and to get a visa out to beseech the authorities.
00:19:00.540 --> 00:19:09.270
Michael Berenbaum: In order to prove that you could get out of the camp of the country, and they moved heaven and earth.
00:19:10.530 --> 00:19:20.850
Michael Berenbaum: Essentially, because they had no other alternative but to move heaven and earth they moved heaven and earth in order to what to get their husbands out.
00:19:22.470 --> 00:19:36.030
Michael Berenbaum: So that's one of the areas in which we see a tremendous amount and one must pay attention to the tremendous amount of innovation of creativity of imagination of discipline.
00:19:36.720 --> 00:19:56.880
Michael Berenbaum: And many of these women were assuming financial responsibilities for the family in the first time at the for the first time, and this event was restricted primarily to German and Austrian women whose husbands were whose husbands were.
00:19:58.830 --> 00:20:07.230
Michael Berenbaum: husbands fathers sons and brothers were arrested and it's a tremendous amount of.
00:20:08.250 --> 00:20:28.950
Michael Berenbaum: innovation and creativity and I want to teach you a phrase that I learned from a former director of the Museum of Jewish heritage in New York, David more well said just because the Jews were powerless did not mean that they were passive.
00:20:30.810 --> 00:20:51.960
Michael Berenbaum: And that becomes an important mode ality that which you see how they used whatever limited capacity, they had in order to get their husbands free and out their husbands their brothers their fathers free and out of Germany let's now go to the second.
00:20:53.490 --> 00:21:05.730
Michael Berenbaum: moment in which women's experience differ significantly from men and let's particularly deal with religious women for a moment.
00:21:07.350 --> 00:21:22.770
Michael Berenbaum: we're now moving not into the build up to the Holocaust two years 33 to 39 we're now dealing in 1939 onward and most especially in the question of can you hide.
00:21:23.760 --> 00:21:35.730
Michael Berenbaum: And that involves ghettoisation, it also involves escaped from the mobile killing units and the question of can you if you have to understand that in Eastern Europe.
00:21:36.810 --> 00:21:59.670
Michael Berenbaum: Many Jewish men from religious families went to Jewish schools in which they studied Lima, a coalition which they studied Jewish learning and they had less secular skills and less command of the secular language of the native language of the land in order to survive.
00:22:00.900 --> 00:22:09.030
Michael Berenbaum: Jewish women, for the most part, with the exception of the base jaco of women, the base shock of girls, we can say at that point.
00:22:10.230 --> 00:22:24.510
Michael Berenbaum: Essentially, went to public schools and the older women who had a function before there was based yaakov went to public schools and they had a greater native command of the language.
00:22:25.890 --> 00:22:35.370
Michael Berenbaum: And they also had therefore spoke, the language without an accent, in order to hide you needed to there were two types of it.
00:22:36.120 --> 00:22:50.850
Michael Berenbaum: Hiding number one was trying to pass as a non Jew, and for that you needed language skills for that you needed a certain measure of looks or else to dye your hair blonde, as it were.
00:22:51.510 --> 00:23:02.340
Michael Berenbaum: Under the myth that that that the aryans were blonde and blue eyed the Jews were dark haired not really the truth but we'll stick with the myth for a moment.
00:23:03.420 --> 00:23:07.710
Michael Berenbaum: And you needed linguist link linguistic skills in order to function.
00:23:09.990 --> 00:23:18.090
Michael Berenbaum: The second means of hiding was to hide clandestinely which depended on on finding somebody.
00:23:19.770 --> 00:23:30.000
Michael Berenbaum: Who would hide you and not appearing in public and the like, and that was the alternative to ghetto ization.
00:23:30.750 --> 00:23:43.650
Michael Berenbaum: or very much the alternative to the mobile killing units and being victimized as the mobile killing units in 1941 42 one from town to town village to village Hamlet Hamlet.
00:23:44.370 --> 00:23:54.570
Michael Berenbaum: and killed Jewish men, women and children bullet bullet bullet and the only alternative to that was to find a place to hide.
00:23:55.230 --> 00:24:07.050
Michael Berenbaum: It was significantly easier for women to find a place to hide, even though that they had that extra special vulnerability, because they were women and could be violated.
00:24:08.520 --> 00:24:24.390
Michael Berenbaum: Because they had greater linguistic skill and very often had greater knowledge of the non Jewish community then then did the religious Jewish men who had studied in Jewish school with fellow Jewish students and to therefore.
00:24:26.100 --> 00:24:29.040
Michael Berenbaum: had less able skills.
00:24:30.180 --> 00:24:34.620
Michael Berenbaum: In order to at least survive by hiding.
00:24:35.670 --> 00:24:41.370
Michael Berenbaum: There is another aspect of ghetto life which we don't necessarily.
00:24:42.990 --> 00:24:49.560
Michael Berenbaum: appreciate fully, and that is that if the man was defined by work.
00:24:50.730 --> 00:24:56.640
Michael Berenbaum: The loss of job left a measure of greater responsibility on women.
00:24:58.020 --> 00:25:17.790
Michael Berenbaum: In order to function in the ghetto, and they very often had to assume primary responsibility for the family and we hear this again and again and again in testimony We also know that in contacts between ghettos.
00:25:19.230 --> 00:25:23.280
Michael Berenbaum: Women were used as couriers.
00:25:24.330 --> 00:25:32.760
Michael Berenbaum: They were the link between ghettos and the reason they were the link between ghettos, is because a they had linguistic skills.
00:25:33.300 --> 00:25:46.140
Michael Berenbaum: And secondly, for a very basic reason, which is their Jewish identity, could not be determined in the same way that a man's Jewish identity could be determined by the Brits me law by the circumcision.
00:25:46.830 --> 00:25:57.570
Michael Berenbaum: And consequently they were part of the great network that was used to connect you knows, and therefore to have greater information.
00:25:58.740 --> 00:26:14.280
Michael Berenbaum: let's now move for a moment to camps and understand this, we spoke before about the fact that women who arrived with children were sent immediately to their death, you also have.
00:26:15.420 --> 00:26:19.110
Michael Berenbaum: Enormous any number of examples.
00:26:21.000 --> 00:26:25.740
Michael Berenbaum: And let me give you two that i've heard from testimony.
00:26:27.600 --> 00:26:29.820
Michael Berenbaum: Even in recent weeks.
00:26:31.920 --> 00:26:33.210
Michael Berenbaum: So seal climbing.
00:26:34.230 --> 00:26:38.880
Michael Berenbaum: arrived in Camp with her mother and her sister.
00:26:40.740 --> 00:26:46.710
Michael Berenbaum: and her mother said to her upon arrival almost in tooling.
00:26:47.730 --> 00:26:51.540
Michael Berenbaum: What was about to happen, give me the baby.
00:26:52.620 --> 00:26:54.180
Michael Berenbaum: Because they will treat.
00:26:57.000 --> 00:27:04.230
Michael Berenbaum: Very will treat women with children, better than they will treat an old woman, like me, if i'm alone.
00:27:05.670 --> 00:27:18.930
Michael Berenbaum: And she had her two younger daughters, who were in the age where they would be selected to work go on, and she took the grandchild she took her a nickel and the bubby took her a nickel.
00:27:20.190 --> 00:27:31.620
Michael Berenbaum: And what march to her death, the mother was then forced to live with the consequences of the fact that our mother, on the one hand saved her life.
00:27:32.880 --> 00:27:37.290
Michael Berenbaum: And on the other hand, she separated herself from her child.
00:27:38.790 --> 00:27:41.550
Michael Berenbaum: And that became enormously.
00:27:43.980 --> 00:27:52.440
Michael Berenbaum: As you can imagine, psychologically burdensome and difficult for the remainder of her life.
00:27:53.880 --> 00:27:54.780
Michael Berenbaum: Another woman.
00:27:57.090 --> 00:28:07.590
Michael Berenbaum: her son describes the experience there was a woman in the train with us, who had three children, all under the age of five.
00:28:09.540 --> 00:28:32.760
Michael Berenbaum: And my mother turned to her and said look, let me give you a hand and help you with the child and she came off the train with the child in her arms and, consequently, she was marched to her death, with the child were given her age, I was a 13 year old boy my mother was under 35.
00:28:33.990 --> 00:28:43.020
Michael Berenbaum: My mother could have possibly survive and she come off the train without volunteering to what to carry another child.
00:28:44.670 --> 00:28:45.600
Michael Berenbaum: in camps.
00:28:46.770 --> 00:28:49.170
Michael Berenbaum: themselves in the concentration camps.
00:28:50.340 --> 00:28:55.050
Michael Berenbaum: There are a couple things we have to say i'm going to be number one.
00:28:57.210 --> 00:29:08.130
Michael Berenbaum: Women testify repeatedly to something that is not true and that's had an impact in the post war years enormously.
00:29:09.150 --> 00:29:11.670
Michael Berenbaum: Which is they cease to men straight.
00:29:12.990 --> 00:29:23.580
Michael Berenbaum: And they presume that the Nazis put something in the food that forced them to cease to men straight, we now know biologically that the pressures.
00:29:25.050 --> 00:29:27.210
Michael Berenbaum: The enormous pressures of.
00:29:28.770 --> 00:29:43.350
Michael Berenbaum: Lack of food and tension caused the city a cessation of menstruation and, therefore, one of the important questions that women had throughout the camps is will I ever be able to give birth.
00:29:44.310 --> 00:29:54.750
Michael Berenbaum: And that's one of the reasons that immediately after the war in the displaced persons camp, the Jewish response to death was to recreate life.
00:29:55.650 --> 00:30:12.360
Michael Berenbaum: Part of that was an instinctive sense of the last word in Jewish life cannot be in in the Jewish history cannot be death, but life itself, but the second is many women were desperately afraid that they would never again be women.
00:30:14.460 --> 00:30:19.590
Michael Berenbaum: Now let's talk about the notion of Camp sisters.
00:30:20.880 --> 00:30:32.940
Michael Berenbaum: Women developed and you must listen to hundreds of testimonies in order to understand it women developed a network of mutual support in the camps.
00:30:34.200 --> 00:30:45.000
Michael Berenbaum: And they use a couple of words they use camp sisters and camp mothers, the interest for camps sisters is restless and let me describe it to you in.
00:30:46.230 --> 00:30:52.440
Michael Berenbaum: In one woman's testimony which you can see in the United States Holocaust Memorial museum.
00:30:54.600 --> 00:30:58.980
Michael Berenbaum: I had a comrade a a friend and camp we became sisters.
00:31:00.570 --> 00:31:02.190
Michael Berenbaum: We shared everything.
00:31:04.170 --> 00:31:05.970
Michael Berenbaum: And then she goes on to say.
00:31:07.200 --> 00:31:08.700
Michael Berenbaum: We shared all of our food.
00:31:10.020 --> 00:31:13.650
Michael Berenbaum: If we got one piece of food we split it.
00:31:14.700 --> 00:31:19.050
Michael Berenbaum: And she said, even with soup we ate the soup together.
00:31:20.070 --> 00:31:22.050
Michael Berenbaum: But then she said something else.
00:31:23.250 --> 00:31:26.370
Michael Berenbaum: I am certain that she never.
00:31:27.660 --> 00:31:33.000
Michael Berenbaum: took an extra drop of soup splitting the bowl of soup in half.
00:31:34.140 --> 00:31:36.480
Michael Berenbaum: But i'm equally certain that she never.
00:31:39.090 --> 00:31:41.640
Michael Berenbaum: left an extra drop of soup.
00:31:42.720 --> 00:31:53.310
Michael Berenbaum: That was not going to be hers, in other words we split it 5050 we split it up in a very basic way so that was guaranteed.
00:31:54.750 --> 00:31:57.780
Michael Berenbaum: Another group of women described the following.
00:31:59.130 --> 00:32:01.320
Michael Berenbaum: that whatever we got we split.
00:32:03.150 --> 00:32:07.350
Michael Berenbaum: And in order to make sure that when you cut something.
00:32:08.550 --> 00:32:14.310
Michael Berenbaum: You cut it as equally as imaginable we developed this system, where we had straws.
00:32:16.320 --> 00:32:18.750
Michael Berenbaum: And one person cut the food.
00:32:19.890 --> 00:32:31.560
Michael Berenbaum: And we each had a straw and then we picked the portion number one number two number three number four based on the straws and since we never knew, whose portion that would be.
00:32:32.850 --> 00:32:38.760
Michael Berenbaum: We understood that somebody tried to divide it as equally as possible.
00:32:40.140 --> 00:32:45.960
Michael Berenbaum: In order to be fair, and in order to develop what we would call mutual support.
00:32:46.980 --> 00:32:59.250
Michael Berenbaum: let's take a second example, this is a survivor from skokie Illinois who recently died, she was also a survivor who had a very unique experience.
00:33:00.270 --> 00:33:12.450
Michael Berenbaum: of which I only know of one moment in time, in which this happened, and that is she was in a guest in a gas Chamber crematoria.
00:33:13.470 --> 00:33:30.900
Michael Berenbaum: In the dressing room on October 7 1944 when there was an uprising in these under commando in the vicinity of the gas chambers and what did they do, they then brought the women back from the gas chamber.
00:33:31.920 --> 00:33:43.320
Michael Berenbaum: And they came back into the barracks and that was not supposed to happen, I have heard testimony from about five women who were part of that experience.
00:33:44.160 --> 00:34:01.020
Michael Berenbaum: And consequently they are the only people we know who went into the gas chamber and came out precisely because of the fact that it was the sonderkommando that engaged and uprising at crematoria.
00:34:02.130 --> 00:34:02.520
Michael Berenbaum: To.
00:34:03.570 --> 00:34:08.880
Michael Berenbaum: On October 7 1944 they were ironically helped.
00:34:10.620 --> 00:34:14.010
Michael Berenbaum: By four women who brought.
00:34:15.690 --> 00:34:32.910
Michael Berenbaum: To them some gunpowder which could be used for explosives when they set the crematorium on fire, and these four women were killed on January 6 1945 among them were Rosa rebekah and.
00:34:36.300 --> 00:34:37.620
Michael Berenbaum: As the sacristy.
00:34:39.270 --> 00:34:44.400
Michael Berenbaum: and the like, and Rosa butters last word she was a young.
00:34:45.540 --> 00:34:47.820
Michael Berenbaum: woman from Johanna of.
00:34:48.990 --> 00:34:51.600
Michael Berenbaum: and her last words was Isaac velma.
00:34:53.640 --> 00:35:03.840
Michael Berenbaum: be strong and have great strength which are ironically, the words in the Torah that Moshe beno used when he told spoke to joshua.
00:35:05.460 --> 00:35:16.770
Michael Berenbaum: When he spoke to joshua and he gave him responsibility for the future of the Jewish people 14 for itself says that she was the youngest in the barracks.
00:35:18.360 --> 00:35:25.110
Michael Berenbaum: She was about 15 years old, she was the youngest in the barracks and she said, therefore, I had 800 mothers.
00:35:26.370 --> 00:35:45.270
Michael Berenbaum: Everyone was looking out for me, meaning that they felt that they couldn't save everyone they couldn't go out of their way to provide for everyone, but they could go out of their way to provide for someone and the way in which they sustained their humanity.
00:35:46.590 --> 00:35:58.500
Michael Berenbaum: The way in which they sustain their humanity was by providing for one person, the youngest person in the lot and, therefore, she was taken through.
00:35:59.970 --> 00:36:02.220
Michael Berenbaum: and able to come out of it.
00:36:03.240 --> 00:36:06.450
Michael Berenbaum: So women in the camps had a.
00:36:08.280 --> 00:36:11.610
Michael Berenbaum: Much greater social support network.
00:36:13.380 --> 00:36:23.970
Michael Berenbaum: of neutrality, then we hear in mail testimony and it could either be that the women speak of that because it was so important.
00:36:25.080 --> 00:36:35.400
Michael Berenbaum: Or that men are had less and therefore were reflecting their own experience of greater isolation.
00:36:36.540 --> 00:36:38.670
Michael Berenbaum: When they were in camps themselves.
00:36:40.500 --> 00:36:42.330
Michael Berenbaum: let's now talk about.
00:36:46.620 --> 00:36:47.400
Michael Berenbaum: marriage.
00:36:48.630 --> 00:36:51.750
Michael Berenbaum: In the ghettos and i'm going to use.
00:36:53.430 --> 00:36:54.480
Michael Berenbaum: Two examples.
00:36:56.010 --> 00:36:57.540
Michael Berenbaum: of marriage in the ghetto.
00:36:58.890 --> 00:37:05.340
Michael Berenbaum: One as an example of testimony by a woman named Helen K that was taken it yell.
00:37:07.230 --> 00:37:11.730
Michael Berenbaum: And this is what we would call a marriage of survival and marriage of safety.
00:37:13.890 --> 00:37:16.350
Michael Berenbaum: And Helen Jay was a very beautiful young woman.
00:37:17.370 --> 00:37:22.530
Michael Berenbaum: and her parents said to her, we want you to marry the wealthiest man in the ghetto.
00:37:25.410 --> 00:37:35.190
Michael Berenbaum: Who was the wealthiest man in the ghetto you didn't have Rockefellers in the ghetto you didn't have Bloomberg in the ghetto the wealthiest man in the ghetto was the Baker.
00:37:36.930 --> 00:37:43.800
Michael Berenbaum: Why was the Baker, the wealthiest man, we get off because if there was any food to be had the Baker had food.
00:37:45.450 --> 00:37:52.860
Michael Berenbaum: And the Baker was first able to provide for himself and for his family, with regard to food.
00:37:53.880 --> 00:37:58.050
Michael Berenbaum: and food was the single most valuable currency, you could have.
00:37:59.820 --> 00:38:02.280
Michael Berenbaum: Both in the ghetto, and in the camps.
00:38:03.780 --> 00:38:10.650
Michael Berenbaum: So she ended up marrying the Baker, it was a marriage of what you would call survival.
00:38:12.210 --> 00:38:15.720
Michael Berenbaum: there's a second story of survivors soon, some of you know.
00:38:16.770 --> 00:38:20.730
Michael Berenbaum: Which is the story of Ben and lot gummy.
00:38:22.020 --> 00:38:37.860
Michael Berenbaum: Blood camino his final final impactful and who's known the gabba gabba was Blocker tells the following story about how been and block of became quotation marks boyfriends and girlfriends.
00:38:41.880 --> 00:38:50.490
Michael Berenbaum: Blocker was working in the underground and being a redheaded woman who did not particularly quotation marks look Jewish.
00:38:51.060 --> 00:39:05.400
Michael Berenbaum: She was working on the air inside will she was sent in order to buy arms and also to smuggle out information, the most important piece of information she ever smuggled out was a map of Treblinka.
00:39:06.420 --> 00:39:10.530
Michael Berenbaum: And a map of Treblinka with the knowledge that Treblinka was def jam.
00:39:11.880 --> 00:39:30.990
Michael Berenbaum: And with the knowledge that there were people that essentially in Treblinka there was no selection there was millie annihilation, and one can say that, of all the Jews who arrived in Treblinka 99 point 99.999% were killed.
00:39:32.220 --> 00:39:47.790
Michael Berenbaum: The best way to put it is 920 5000 people were killed at Treblinka there were less than 100 known survivors and some viewer more skilled at math can give me the numerical calculations of that.
00:39:49.800 --> 00:39:59.040
Michael Berenbaum: locker says the way Ben became my boyfriend was as follows, and this couple who has been married for 50 some odd years.
00:40:02.100 --> 00:40:06.030
Michael Berenbaum: then became my boyfriend because I said to him i'm going somewhere.
00:40:07.170 --> 00:40:08.910
Michael Berenbaum: And I don't know if i'm coming back.
00:40:11.250 --> 00:40:12.570
Michael Berenbaum: My father has gotten.
00:40:13.740 --> 00:40:21.840
Michael Berenbaum: My mother and my brother are gone her mother and her brother had reported for deportation to Treblinka because they promised.
00:40:22.290 --> 00:40:33.330
Michael Berenbaum: somebody who reported to Treblinka that they would give them a piece of bread and some marmalade and even if they knew they were going to an unknown place not necessarily death.
00:40:34.200 --> 00:40:45.180
Michael Berenbaum: They understood that they were so desperate for piece of bread and marmalade that they reported to the death she turned to him if I don't come back I want someone to care.
00:40:46.560 --> 00:40:48.150
Michael Berenbaum: Therefore, you can be my boyfriend.
00:40:52.920 --> 00:40:58.530
Michael Berenbaum: ben's mother and father understood what was happening with this couple.
00:40:59.850 --> 00:41:03.390
Michael Berenbaum: And ben's mother took off her ring.
00:41:05.700 --> 00:41:07.890
Michael Berenbaum: And took a glass of water.
00:41:09.210 --> 00:41:12.720
Michael Berenbaum: And said Benjamin give this to lock up.
00:41:14.400 --> 00:41:21.000
Michael Berenbaum: which he did she lifted a glass of water and she said so assignment Mazel let it be, with luck.
00:41:22.140 --> 00:41:24.720
Michael Berenbaum: And that's the way in which they had their first.
00:41:25.740 --> 00:41:33.960
Michael Berenbaum: of several wedding ceremonies they let her were robbed more married by a rabbi and the hoop up and condition.
00:41:35.820 --> 00:41:43.350
Michael Berenbaum: But that's an example of marriage it's an example of what we would call the marriage of desperation.
00:41:44.520 --> 00:41:55.260
Michael Berenbaum: but also a love that was born of desperation and a marriage, that was born by a love that was forged in desperation there's going to be a book coming out.
00:41:55.980 --> 00:42:04.890
Michael Berenbaum: In the next couple of months, which is going to describe the various ways in which people found each other and married each other.
00:42:05.550 --> 00:42:20.130
Michael Berenbaum: In order to show that not every experience of male female relationship was one of violation and taking advantage of but there were a whole range of other examples of what happened.
00:42:21.180 --> 00:42:31.710
Michael Berenbaum: let's now talk for a moment, because we want to leave time for questions and answers let's talk for a moment about the post war.
00:42:33.690 --> 00:42:35.040
Michael Berenbaum: In a very important way.
00:42:37.200 --> 00:42:41.520
Michael Berenbaum: The experience of women in the post war situation was also unique.
00:42:42.690 --> 00:43:02.130
Michael Berenbaum: First of all, there was tremendous sense of isolation, there was also tremendous fear that they could no longer give birth, that they had been deprived of their womanhood and of their capacity, there also was a very important rabbinical question that had to be raised.
00:43:03.210 --> 00:43:06.180
Michael Berenbaum: In a very dramatic way, which is that.
00:43:07.440 --> 00:43:24.930
Michael Berenbaum: Normally, in order to remarry if a woman had been married you needed a witness to the fact that the man had been killed or had died normally a death certificate suffices in that, and then the woman is free to remarry.
00:43:26.160 --> 00:43:29.040
Michael Berenbaum: The problem is that if you went to Treblinka.
00:43:30.630 --> 00:43:40.740
Michael Berenbaum: 925,000 killed less than 100 known survivors, how do you know if your husband was not among those survivors.
00:43:42.030 --> 00:43:46.710
Michael Berenbaum: And how do you know that he or he ended up being killed, if you.
00:43:50.070 --> 00:43:52.050
Michael Berenbaum: What if you went to a place like.
00:43:53.430 --> 00:43:54.000
Michael Berenbaum: Belgium.
00:43:55.140 --> 00:44:03.840
Michael Berenbaum: 500,000 killed two known survivors, therefore, interestingly enough in both belts and in Treblinka.
00:44:05.040 --> 00:44:17.280
Michael Berenbaum: There was very little known about the camps too much, much, much later because, unlike Auschwitz, there were very few survivors who could testify to what happened in the camps.
00:44:18.570 --> 00:44:29.310
Michael Berenbaum: And there was a tremendous effort by the rabbi's to find the means in order to free these women and allow them to remarry.
00:44:30.120 --> 00:44:40.650
Michael Berenbaum: And one of the most important rabbinic decision rabbinic deciders was a men by them rabbi mizell who himself was a survivor of Auschwitz.
00:44:41.370 --> 00:44:56.610
Michael Berenbaum: And therefore understood precisely precisely the questions that had to be asked in order to allow for marriage to take place, the point we want to make also is that in the dp camps.
00:44:58.080 --> 00:45:18.420
Michael Berenbaum: There was a dramatic return to life, first of all people got married sometimes they got married out of love the sometimes they got married out of loneliness I heard the following testimony i'm all alone, I have no one you're all alone, you have no one let's be alone together.
00:45:19.650 --> 00:45:44.160
Michael Berenbaum: But out of that there was what out of that they're developed a long lasting and a happy marriage, but it was a marriage, born of despair and isolation and then women dare to do something which was the, to my mind, the most courageous, but in one sense, on imaginatively a bold.
00:45:46.860 --> 00:46:05.010
Michael Berenbaum: decisions to make, and that is before they knew where they were going to be before they were no know how they were going to create their life before they knew that the world would be safe for them, they dared to have faith in the future and to bring a young child into the world.
00:46:06.240 --> 00:46:11.880
Michael Berenbaum: And because these were Jewish children when they were boys they dared to circumcise them.
00:46:13.230 --> 00:46:24.300
Michael Berenbaum: And that in in a very real sense is something we don't particularly think is anything other than the most ordinary thing in our world.
00:46:25.890 --> 00:46:39.510
Michael Berenbaum: But in that world be after six years which of a man was as blower his trousers, he was dead to bring a child into the world and to make an indelible sign of the Covenant on that child on that boy.
00:46:40.290 --> 00:46:50.640
Michael Berenbaum: was an act of enormous courage which took place and which was an indication of an in defeat the fatigue double spirit.
00:46:52.860 --> 00:47:11.190
Michael Berenbaum: and indefatigable spirit of Jews, to answer death by recreating life let's leave it here for a moment, take your questions because we've gone on and i'm going to hear from array and he's going to feel the questions, please.
00:47:14.640 --> 00:47:17.550
Ari Goldstein: Michael Thank you so much for that very interesting lecture.
00:47:18.990 --> 00:47:24.570
Ari Goldstein: To our audience, please feel free to share questions in the Q amp a box we'll start with some of the best questions that have come in so far.
00:47:25.260 --> 00:47:34.110
Ari Goldstein: Michael there's a question from an audience Member named sheldon about national differences between women's experiences Polish Jewish women German Jewish women Russian Jewish women.
00:47:34.440 --> 00:47:41.400
Ari Goldstein: How might you answer that and i'm curious about the way that those differences manifested in each of the chronologies that you discussed.
00:47:43.020 --> 00:47:43.320
Michael Berenbaum: well.
00:47:44.400 --> 00:47:52.320
Michael Berenbaum: We can we learn only say that there may have been national differences there may have also been differences between urban urban and rural.
00:47:55.050 --> 00:48:12.240
Michael Berenbaum: I can say that the first thing is that that if you had to hide, or if you had to go out into the forest if you had to forage women who grew up in a rural environment had better skills at that and better knowledge of it.
00:48:13.350 --> 00:48:16.200
Michael Berenbaum: And a greater ability to get by.
00:48:17.670 --> 00:48:22.050
Michael Berenbaum: let's begin with by talking about the difference between German women.
00:48:23.610 --> 00:48:29.880
Michael Berenbaum: Polish women Hungarian women and and Russian women.
00:48:30.930 --> 00:48:43.470
Michael Berenbaum: And by the way, Russian women were really talking about people that be in what was the old Soviet Union German women had a had a build up of six years.
00:48:44.820 --> 00:48:46.410
Michael Berenbaum: In order to understand the Nazis.
00:48:48.360 --> 00:48:51.990
Michael Berenbaum: And the build up of six years meant that they had lots of.
00:48:53.130 --> 00:48:57.390
Michael Berenbaum: Decisions along the way that they had to grapple with.
00:48:58.470 --> 00:49:06.870
Michael Berenbaum: And remember that the bulk of the German Jewish population left Germany before the Holocaust.
00:49:08.580 --> 00:49:10.830
Michael Berenbaum: Most German Jews were refugees.
00:49:12.000 --> 00:49:26.790
Michael Berenbaum: And sometimes I i'll tell a story, I know I know very personally, there was a great philosophy Jewish philosopher of education, been in micros back micros enact was the.
00:49:28.980 --> 00:49:45.420
Michael Berenbaum: First person in the Community in which I grew up with I grew up in who made alia he made on the on 1956 57 and it was a symbol to us somebody his father was a.
00:49:46.530 --> 00:49:51.540
Michael Berenbaum: very famous lawyer who was enormously influential.
00:49:52.860 --> 00:49:54.450
Michael Berenbaum: in getting Jews, to get out.
00:49:55.950 --> 00:50:01.710
Michael Berenbaum: and his mother went to his father, one day, and she said, I have a a woman with a child.
00:50:03.120 --> 00:50:07.530
Michael Berenbaum: whose husband refuses to leave because he thinks he's doing something very important.
00:50:09.450 --> 00:50:21.210
Michael Berenbaum: And Can you help the woman to leave with her child, because she doesn't want her child to grow up like this doesn't want her child to be subject to this doesn't want to continue to live like this.
00:50:21.720 --> 00:50:28.890
Michael Berenbaum: So he said, please do me a favor give me give me the woman's name, and of course i'll be able to help her.
00:50:30.480 --> 00:50:34.620
Michael Berenbaum: So she spelled out her name but used her maiden name.
00:50:35.940 --> 00:50:41.340
Michael Berenbaum: And he looked up from this desk and and she said it's time.
00:50:43.050 --> 00:50:43.920
Michael Berenbaum: And we're out of here.
00:50:45.600 --> 00:50:47.550
Michael Berenbaum: And she said we're out of here with you.
00:50:49.140 --> 00:50:55.140
Michael Berenbaum: or without or with without with or we're out of here without you.
00:50:56.730 --> 00:51:00.090
Michael Berenbaum: Let me give a second example of a choice that.
00:51:02.700 --> 00:51:17.670
Michael Berenbaum: A choice, the German women had some a German and by 1938 it was included Austrian women and some trek women had to make, which is the great act of rescue of 10,000 Jewish children.
00:51:18.960 --> 00:51:20.430
Michael Berenbaum: called kinzer kindertransport.
00:51:21.870 --> 00:51:38.460
Michael Berenbaum: But remember kindertransport means that parents that the British had to decide that were willing to receive 10,000 children, which they did after Kristallnacht, by the way, the Americans refused to receive 20,000 children and follow the British example.
00:51:40.740 --> 00:51:46.230
Michael Berenbaum: The problem was that these children would grow up to be adults and they would take American jobs.
00:51:47.610 --> 00:51:56.280
Michael Berenbaum: And that was called the Wagner Rogers bill it didn't even get out of committee in the United States Congress these women had to make a decision.
00:51:57.990 --> 00:52:06.270
Michael Berenbaum: That they love their children so much that they were willing to give them up to put them, let them go into the arms of strangers.
00:52:07.770 --> 00:52:10.140
Michael Berenbaum: They had to make a decision that they.
00:52:11.430 --> 00:52:13.230
Michael Berenbaum: couldn't protect their children.
00:52:14.670 --> 00:52:17.160
Michael Berenbaum: And the situation was so desperate.
00:52:18.660 --> 00:52:27.780
Michael Berenbaum: That they love their children so much that their children could would be better off living without them, then staying where they are.
00:52:28.950 --> 00:52:31.320
Michael Berenbaum: 10,000 families made that decision.
00:52:32.670 --> 00:52:39.180
Michael Berenbaum: So imagine what it what what they perceived what they felt what they sense in order to understand that.
00:52:40.620 --> 00:52:45.930
Michael Berenbaum: let's talk, for example, about Hungarian women.
00:52:47.010 --> 00:52:58.650
Michael Berenbaum: On gehring women and remember the whole Hungarian story is intriguing because the Hungarian story occurred occurred only after March 19 1944.
00:53:01.350 --> 00:53:17.940
Michael Berenbaum: Germans invaded march 19 ghettoisation took place in April and May deportations occurred between the 15th of May and the eighth of July and by the eighth of July, deportations that ended and then all that was left was the Jewish community of Budapest.
00:53:18.960 --> 00:53:28.050
Michael Berenbaum: Because the entire countryside had been had been rid of the Jews, so the question we came for Hungarian women, how do you survive a year.
00:53:30.030 --> 00:53:44.130
Michael Berenbaum: Because again everybody knew, by the time of the Hungarian and this is what gives you the sense of the Nazis priority everybody knew that by the time hungering was invaded the Germany was going to lose the war.
00:53:45.720 --> 00:53:55.410
Michael Berenbaum: Soviet Union was advancing the Allies gone up from North Africa, then entered Italy we didn't yet know about de de de de occurred about.
00:53:56.550 --> 00:54:05.820
Michael Berenbaum: Halfway through the deportation of Hungarian Jews and, consequently, their experience was how do I hold out until.
00:54:06.990 --> 00:54:08.520
Michael Berenbaum: The war comes to an end.
00:54:10.020 --> 00:54:24.150
Michael Berenbaum: And that's an incredible it's an incredible story in of itself Soviet Jews Soviet Jewish women face the question of how do you deal, how do you deal with these murderous.
00:54:25.380 --> 00:54:35.520
Michael Berenbaum: rampages that were taking place of mobile killing units, by the way in Lithuania two out of three Lithuanians were killed by with winnings.
00:54:36.000 --> 00:54:46.530
Michael Berenbaum: Not by not by Germans in Latvia, the same percentage in Estonia 100% were killed by Estonians, not by not by not by Germans.
00:54:46.920 --> 00:54:57.570
Michael Berenbaum: So the question becomes, how do you hide, how do you escape, how do you get out of there, how do you do, and then you also have another piece of of interesting.
00:54:58.290 --> 00:55:09.300
Michael Berenbaum: Evidence that's being drawn up now by men been them Patrick dubois and his group, which is they are now going to the mass killing fields digging upgrades.
00:55:10.080 --> 00:55:20.160
Michael Berenbaum: and finding out essentially that some of these people do not have some of these skeletons do not have bullet holes in them.
00:55:20.820 --> 00:55:30.750
Michael Berenbaum: Which means that you had fathers that stood in and took a bullet for their children, you had mothers who protected their sons and daughters, their experience was very different.
00:55:32.220 --> 00:55:37.290
Michael Berenbaum: And their experience was not one of concentration camp was not one.
00:55:38.370 --> 00:55:39.810
Michael Berenbaum: Of of.
00:55:40.980 --> 00:55:58.050
Michael Berenbaum: When do we leave what was question of how do we hide in Poland, you had essentially ghettoisation deportation concentration camp, you also have instances of resistance and remember in in resistance, women and men.
00:55:59.250 --> 00:56:14.430
Michael Berenbaum: form alongside each other and women perform the great task of being couriers and arms merchants lot committed herself climbed over the Warsaw ghetto wall with dynamite understanding that if she jumped.
00:56:16.020 --> 00:56:18.330
Michael Berenbaum: Or if they shouted her, she could be exploded.
00:56:19.770 --> 00:56:35.040
Michael Berenbaum: because she was carrying dynamite and What did she know about dynamite she said I couldn't even pronounce the word, so there are clearly geographic geographical differences, there are also differences between peasant and urbanite.
00:56:36.600 --> 00:56:42.240
Michael Berenbaum: Women, you also had a cultural divide between those who had been around.
00:56:44.100 --> 00:56:49.020
Michael Berenbaum: forms and animals and death and dying in a way that's different.
00:56:50.310 --> 00:56:53.940
Michael Berenbaum: that's how I can give it as short answer looks like the next question.
00:56:55.950 --> 00:57:04.650
Ari Goldstein: Thank you, Michael and I appreciate everyone's patience we're going to run a couple minutes late, since we started a few minutes late Michael let's try to fit in two more questions.
00:57:05.130 --> 00:57:19.080
Ari Goldstein: And there are several audience Members asking about the sexual violence that Jewish women experience, both from Nazis and also sometimes from Russian soldiers, did you find that that was something most women were willing to speak honestly about in their testimony.
00:57:21.960 --> 00:57:25.350
Michael Berenbaum: Look, there were a couple of points at which people.
00:57:27.870 --> 00:57:31.080
Michael Berenbaum: boil up let's click let's begin by saying that.
00:57:32.520 --> 00:57:37.020
Michael Berenbaum: The sexual violence that women experienced from Russia Russian soldiers.
00:57:38.280 --> 00:57:46.860
Michael Berenbaum: was not particularly directed at Jewish women, it was directed at all women and was directed at women of all ages.
00:57:48.570 --> 00:57:53.430
Michael Berenbaum: And that's an incredible thing to see it made it It made it.
00:57:55.290 --> 00:58:02.100
Michael Berenbaum: It may it gave the Russians a horrendous reputation among everything.
00:58:03.120 --> 00:58:19.200
Michael Berenbaum: The violence directed by Nazi the sexual violence directed by Nazis against Jews is seldom spoke of on either side, because for the Nazis, it was a violation, for the most part of the.
00:58:20.220 --> 00:58:32.040
Michael Berenbaum: The Aryan laws with regard to sexual relations between aryans and Jewish women and for the Jewish women, it was a violation.
00:58:33.390 --> 00:58:40.890
Michael Berenbaum: And incredible violation, let me tell you one story which I heard, not from a.
00:58:43.200 --> 00:58:46.080
Michael Berenbaum: Not from the woman, but I heard from a rabbi.
00:58:48.720 --> 00:58:53.220
Michael Berenbaum: rabbi was a rabbi in nashville Tennessee I won't give the year.
00:58:55.380 --> 00:58:58.410
Michael Berenbaum: And he said a couple came to me.
00:59:00.390 --> 00:59:01.380
Michael Berenbaum: To get married.
00:59:02.640 --> 00:59:06.960
Michael Berenbaum: And I met with them, we spoken great length, it was a joyous event.
00:59:07.980 --> 00:59:11.340
Michael Berenbaum: And then the man left and the woman said rob i'd like to see all along.
00:59:13.980 --> 00:59:14.610
Michael Berenbaum: and
00:59:16.050 --> 00:59:16.950
Michael Berenbaum: He said okay.
00:59:18.870 --> 00:59:20.430
Michael Berenbaum: She said I can't get married.
00:59:23.730 --> 00:59:29.070
Michael Berenbaum: And then she lifted up or blouse and showed him that she had been tattooed.
00:59:30.150 --> 00:59:31.230
Michael Berenbaum: Between her breasts.
00:59:33.930 --> 00:59:36.810
Michael Berenbaum: And that is that she had been used as a.
00:59:38.520 --> 00:59:44.820
Michael Berenbaum: What the Japanese referred to as comfort women enforced sexual violence.
00:59:45.870 --> 00:59:47.010
Michael Berenbaum: In one of the camps.
00:59:49.740 --> 00:59:50.670
Michael Berenbaum: And the rabbi.
00:59:51.720 --> 00:59:55.500
Michael Berenbaum: was absolutely startled obviously never happened to him before.
00:59:57.030 --> 01:00:01.890
Michael Berenbaum: And he said three things that were incredibly said number one, you must get married.
01:00:04.140 --> 01:00:09.690
Michael Berenbaum: Number two if you want me to talk to your husband, I will be the one to talk to your husband.
01:00:10.740 --> 01:00:11.610
Michael Berenbaum: your husband to be.
01:00:14.850 --> 01:00:19.200
Michael Berenbaum: And number three I will insist on your tuba that we write the tool.
01:00:23.400 --> 01:00:28.260
Michael Berenbaum: And that is that we treat you as if you have never been married never been touched.
01:00:32.550 --> 01:00:36.000
Michael Berenbaum: And when he recited This to me he had tears in his eyes.
01:00:38.670 --> 01:00:40.290
Michael Berenbaum: And he said, I know I did right.
01:00:45.420 --> 01:00:51.600
Michael Berenbaum: But that gives you an example of it, we are now hearing much more.
01:00:53.220 --> 01:00:58.950
Michael Berenbaum: Interestingly enough, there are two things that we hear about at the end of testimony.
01:00:59.970 --> 01:01:02.790
Michael Berenbaum: Very often, when they asked us to turn off the cameras.
01:01:05.010 --> 01:01:09.990
Michael Berenbaum: We hear of two things that are very difficult to talk about almost impossible talk about.
01:01:11.130 --> 01:01:16.680
Michael Berenbaum: We hear about sexual violence and sexual violation, not only of women, but also men.
01:01:18.570 --> 01:01:24.330
Michael Berenbaum: And we also hear of something else which is we hear of the occasions of cannibalism.
01:01:29.220 --> 01:01:35.970
Michael Berenbaum: And people to this thing that's a part of memory, they can't go to there's a fellow.
01:01:38.310 --> 01:01:49.170
Michael Berenbaum: Who just gave his testimony in one of these holograms that are being used by the shore foundation, you have it at the Museum of Jewish heritage.
01:01:51.480 --> 01:01:53.340
Michael Berenbaum: And he said I was.
01:01:54.540 --> 01:01:56.100
Michael Berenbaum: The boy for the couple.
01:01:58.530 --> 01:02:07.650
Michael Berenbaum: He said and psychologically, I understand by all that i've not done learned elsewhere that I must have been violated.
01:02:10.290 --> 01:02:12.240
Michael Berenbaum: But I can't remember anything about that.
01:02:14.970 --> 01:02:21.810
Michael Berenbaum: anytime I go into the privacy of the couple's room in the barracks I go blind.
01:02:35.100 --> 01:02:38.760
Ari Goldstein: Thank you for those stories Michael what's good give me the chills.
01:02:40.200 --> 01:02:51.030
Ari Goldstein: I want to ask you one more question if you if you have the time someone in the audience in general deems mother was a campus pastor or sister and experience, these networks women supporting each other.
01:02:51.600 --> 01:03:00.360
Ari Goldstein: she's asking whether the campus pastors whose stories you've heard stayed close to each other stayed sisters after the war.
01:03:05.370 --> 01:03:09.180
Michael Berenbaum: I can't give a general answer to that, but I can only say that.
01:03:10.980 --> 01:03:14.880
Michael Berenbaum: They had seen each other at their most vulnerable.
01:03:16.500 --> 01:03:21.300
Michael Berenbaum: And consequently everything else in life was relatively speaking, easy.
01:03:23.010 --> 01:03:28.020
Michael Berenbaum: They also understood that when push came to shove.
01:03:29.280 --> 01:03:32.790
Michael Berenbaum: There was nothing that they would not do for each other.
01:03:34.860 --> 01:03:38.700
Michael Berenbaum: And if you think of that as a quality of human relationship.
01:03:41.280 --> 01:03:43.500
Michael Berenbaum: You don't know that about many people.
01:03:46.200 --> 01:03:52.140
Michael Berenbaum: You can count on more many of us can count on one hand, perhaps if we're lucky.
01:03:53.520 --> 01:03:59.700
Michael Berenbaum: That we know that about anybody about other people and other people know that about ourselves.
01:04:00.990 --> 01:04:04.080
Michael Berenbaum: Those type of friendships that are forged in fury.
01:04:06.390 --> 01:04:16.890
Michael Berenbaum: And forged by fire and by flame and by desperation and by everything else those don't happen easily and lightly.
01:04:20.610 --> 01:04:34.950
Michael Berenbaum: So that's the best that's the best answer I can give them remember some of these women ended up in Australia some ended up in New York, some ended up in Canada some ended up in in in Israel.
01:04:36.270 --> 01:04:37.740
Michael Berenbaum: And some remain.
01:04:38.820 --> 01:04:43.830
Michael Berenbaum: for whatever reasons behind the Iron Curtain so whether an individual.
01:04:44.880 --> 01:04:46.980
Michael Berenbaum: was close to his camp semester.
01:04:48.180 --> 01:04:54.090
Michael Berenbaum: For the rest of your life depended in part on circumstances and some became inseparable.
01:04:56.520 --> 01:05:04.680
Michael Berenbaum: Some became absolutely inseparable Let me close with with with one more story which I didn't get to.
01:05:06.060 --> 01:05:08.220
Michael Berenbaum: And I want to do this for my my.
01:05:10.620 --> 01:05:14.640
Michael Berenbaum: Most, especially the the people at in.
01:05:15.900 --> 01:05:21.900
Michael Berenbaum: Project witness there's a word that I kept hearing in women's testimony called dufka.
01:05:23.700 --> 01:05:27.180
Michael Berenbaum: tosca is a Hebrew word and the Yiddish word.
01:05:29.010 --> 01:05:31.440
Michael Berenbaum: Which means Nevertheless, despite everything.
01:05:33.270 --> 01:05:34.440
Michael Berenbaum: You know, absolute.
01:05:37.470 --> 01:05:42.870
Michael Berenbaum: Several women i've heard described, for example, fasting on Yom Kippur.
01:05:45.150 --> 01:05:46.110
Michael Berenbaum: And they said dufka.
01:05:48.090 --> 01:05:55.050
Michael Berenbaum: We fasted on Yom Kippur not particularly because a because we fasted every day and outfits.
01:05:56.610 --> 01:06:10.380
Michael Berenbaum: But we fasted to show ourselves and to show them, even though they wouldn't be impressed by what we were showing them that even their juice could maintain tradition, even their juice could be faithful to God.
01:06:12.570 --> 01:06:16.290
Michael Berenbaum: And you have another number examples you have.
01:06:17.760 --> 01:06:26.400
Michael Berenbaum: A group of of secular girls quayside secular girls who were in a.
01:06:27.720 --> 01:06:28.920
Michael Berenbaum: slave Labor camp.
01:06:30.330 --> 01:06:42.030
Michael Berenbaum: Who specifically took the fat that they could get in order to create a little bit of wax and let hanukkah candles.
01:06:44.130 --> 01:06:46.020
Michael Berenbaum: And they again use the word dufka.
01:06:50.370 --> 01:06:53.520
Michael Berenbaum: And that's a spirit of defiance.
01:06:54.840 --> 01:06:58.740
Michael Berenbaum: which, in part, showed their humanity.
01:07:00.030 --> 01:07:02.310
Michael Berenbaum: But strengthen their humanity.
01:07:03.390 --> 01:07:06.540
Michael Berenbaum: And all of that helps people to survive.
01:07:08.280 --> 01:07:11.460
Michael Berenbaum: And in this case help people to survive as Jews.
01:07:16.140 --> 01:07:25.710
Ari Goldstein: Michael when we hear from you the rabbi and the doctor in your title both come through so clearly it's it's a joy and a privilege to learn from you, thank you for being with us today.
01:07:28.380 --> 01:07:30.810
Ari Goldstein: Well, Michael I was just i'm not sure if you could hear me, but it was just saying that.
01:07:31.260 --> 01:07:40.620
Ari Goldstein: we're deeply grateful for you, sharing your wisdom with us today, thank you to all of you in the audience for joining museum of Jewish heritage and project witness for michaels lecture today.
01:07:40.920 --> 01:07:47.580
Ari Goldstein: Everything both of our organizations do is made possible through donor support, so we thank those of you who are already generously supporting our work.
01:07:47.910 --> 01:07:57.060
Ari Goldstein: And if you're not and you're interested, you can find links to both of our organizations in the zoom chat share my thanks once again and i'll hand it off to free to alicia keys to close today's Program.
01:07:57.780 --> 01:08:10.350
Frieda Loshinsky: Thank you very much, all right, and thank you, Dr burns down for that enlightening important and extremely moving lecture that I know will definitely stay with me for a long time, and I could safely.
01:08:10.860 --> 01:08:17.160
Frieda Loshinsky: assume that it will stay with everyone in this audience for a very, very long time, it was just absolutely spectacular.
01:08:17.970 --> 01:08:22.410
Frieda Loshinsky: on behalf of project witness We thank the museum for co hosting this event, with us.
01:08:22.680 --> 01:08:33.330
Frieda Loshinsky: To Dr birnbaum to every to everyone involved for everything that you do for Holocaust education, we thank each and every one of you for joining us today, for your continued participation.
01:08:33.690 --> 01:08:42.600
Frieda Loshinsky: And please continue to participate in these types of programs that we can continue offering these types of programs for the for you in general.
01:08:43.830 --> 01:08:46.950
Frieda Loshinsky: Thank you all for joining stay safe stay well.
01:08:47.970 --> 01:08:48.930
Ari Goldstein: Take care of here.
Learn More from Dr. Michael Berenbaum
Dr. Michael Berenbaum is a world-renowned Holocaust historian. To learn more of his insights, watch Berenbaum discuss his curatorial work for the Museum’s Auschwitz exhibition in this conversation with Robert Jan van Pelt or watch an interview between Berenbaum and All the Horrors of War author Bernice Lerner.
Celebrate Jewish Women Who Resisted the Nazis
In her new book The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos, Judy Batalion brings to light the stories of “ghetto girls” who paid off Gestapo guards, hid revolvers in loaves of bread and jars of marmalade, and helped build systems of underground bunkers. Hear Batalion discuss their stories in this Museum interview with Molly Crabapple.
We would like to express our appreciation to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) for supporting this public program. Through recovering the assets of the victims of the Holocaust, the Claims Conference enables organizations around the world to provide education about the Shoah and to preserve the memory of those who perished.