Gender and the Holocaust

Women’s Holocaust Writing
  • S. Lillian Kremer
Chapter

Abstract

Contentious debates on the appropriateness of gender studies of the Shoah have become increasingly acrimonious following the publication in 1998 of Women in the Holocaust, edited by Dalia Ofer and Lenore J. Weitzman.1 Perhaps the most vituperative voice is that of Gabriel Schoenfeld who, in his Commentary review, ‘Auschwitz and the Professors’, accused feminist scholars of disseminating ‘propaganda’. In his litany of academic sins regarding Holocaust study, Schoenfeld characterizes ‘the voguish hybrid known as gender studies’ as committing ‘the worst excesses of all on today’s campuses’.2 Although Schoenfeld condones study of Jewish women’s experience in ghettos and camps such as that commissioned by the ghetto historian Emannuel Ringelblum, he condemns recent feminist scholarship, which he diminishes as ‘intended explicitly to serve the purposes of “consciousness-raising”… a means of validating feminist theory itself.3 Writing as a dissenting voice in the Ofer/Weitzman collection, Lawrence Langer also rejects gendered Holocaust study. He claims that ‘Listening to the voices of women who survived those domains reminds us of the severely diminished role that gendered behavior played during those cruel years.’4 Langer concludes his essay ‘Gendered Suffering?’ with a dismissive declaration on gender:

the ultimate sense of loss unites former victims in a violated world beyond gender … given the unspeakable sorrow with which all victims were burdened, it seems to me that nothing could be crueler or more callous than the attempt to dredge up from this landscape of universal destruction a mythology of comparative endurance that awards favor to one group of individuals over another.5

Keywords

Rubber Schizophrenia Lime Expense Hunt 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Dalia Ofer and Leonore J. Weitzman, eds., Women in the Holocaust (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Lawrence Langer, ‘Gendered Suffering?’ in Women in the Holocaust, eds. Dalia Ofer and Leonore J. Weitzman (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998), p.351.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Joan Ringelheim, ‘The Split Between Gender and the Holocaust’, Women in the Holocaust, eds. Ofer and Weitzman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), p.344.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Saul Bellow, Mr. Sammler’s Planet (New York: Viking, 1970).Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Bernard Malamud, ‘The Last Mohican,’ The Magic Barrel (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Cudahy, 1958).Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Bernard Malamud, ‘The Lady of the Lake’, The Magic Barrel (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy, 1958).Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Edward Lewis Wallant, The Pawnbroker (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1961).Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    Richard M. Elman, The 28th Day of Elul (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1967).Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Richard Elman, The Reckoning: The Daily Ledgers of Newman Yagodah Advokat and Factor (New York: Charles Scriber’s Sons, 1969).Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    Richard Elman, Lilo’s Diary (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1968).Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    Art Spiegelman, MAUS: A Survivor’s Tale I: My Father Bleeds History (New York: Pantheon Books, 1973).Google Scholar
  12. 16.
    See S. Lillian Kremer, Women’s Holocaust Writing (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  13. 17.
    Sara R. Horowitz, ‘Memory and Testimony of Women Survivors of Nazi Genocide,’ Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing, ed. Judith R. Baskin (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994), p.268.Google Scholar
  14. 18.
    Ilona Karmel, An Estate of Memory (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969). Subsequent references to this edition appear parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  15. 19.
    Elżbieta Ettinger, Kindergarten (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970). Subsequent references to this edition appear parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  16. 20.
    Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989). Subsequent references to this edition appear parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  17. 21.
    Marge Piercy, Gone to Soldiers (New York: Summit Books, 1987). Subsequent references to this edition appear parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  18. 23.
    Joel E. Dimsdale, ‘The Coping Behavior of Nazi Concentration Camp Survivors’, in Survivors, Victims, and Perpetrators: Essays on the Nazi Holocaust, ed. Joel E. Dimsdale (Washington: Hemispheres Publishing Corp., 1980), p. 168.Google Scholar
  19. 24.
    On the burdens of motherhood see Marlene Heinemann, Gender and Destiny: Women Writers and the Holocaust (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  20. Katharina von Kellenbach, ‘Reproduction and Resistance during the Holocaust,’ Women and the Holocaust, ed. Esther Fuchs (New York: University Press of America, 1999), pp.19–32, S. Lillian Kremer, Women’s Holocaust Writing. Google Scholar
  21. 26.
    Ellen Fine, ‘Women Writers and the Holocaust: Strategies for Survival’, in Reflections of the Holocaust in Art and Literature, ed. Randolph L. Braham (New York: City University of New York, 1990), p.82.Google Scholar
  22. 29.
    Sidra Dekoven Ezrahi, By Words Alone: The Holocaust in Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p.87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 31.
    See ghetto historians Chaim A. Kaplan, Scroll of Agony: The Warsaw Diary of Chaim A, Kaplan, ed. Abraham I. Katsh (New York: Collier, 1973), pp.327–28Google Scholar
  24. and Emmanuel Ringelblum, Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto: The Journal of Emmanuel Ringelblum, ed. Jacob Sloan (New York: Schocken Books, 1974), p. 172. In 1942 Kaplan wrote that ragged six- or seven-year-olds were immediately recognizable by the humps on their backs filled with potatoes and onions. Likewise, Ringelblum recorded efforts of emaciated three- or four-year-olds crawling through rainwater conduits and culverts to bring food into the ghetto from the Aryan side of Warsaw. Ford a fictional delineation of child smugglers see Arnost Lustig, Diamonds of the Night, trans. Jeanne Nemcova (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1978)Google Scholar
  25. and Leslie Epstein, King of the Jews (New York: New American Library, 1979).Google Scholar
  26. 33.
    Elie Wiesel, Night, trans. Stella Rodway (New York: Hill and Wang, 1958), p.42.Google Scholar
  27. 34.
    Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, trans. Barbara Vedder (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1967), pp.45–46.Google Scholar
  28. 35.
    Olga Lengyel, Five Chimneys, trans. Clifford Coch and Paul B. Weiss (Chicago: Ziff-Davis Publishing, 1947), p.95.Google Scholar
  29. 36.
    Terrence Des Pres, The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976) pp.136, 138.Google Scholar
  30. 37.
    Sybil Milton, ‘Women and the Holocaust: The Case of German and German-Jewish Women,’ When Biology Becomes Destiny: Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany, eds. Renate Bridenthal, Anita Grossman, Marion Kaplan (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1984), p.313.Google Scholar
  31. 40.
    Nechama Tec writes, ‘When taking a step into the Christian world the destinies of the Jewish children were influenced by their appearance and the extent to which it conformed to the stereotypical “Jewish Look.” How well we could blend socially into the environment also made a difference.’ Nechama Tec, ‘A Historical Perspective: Tracing the History of the Hidden Child Experience,’ The Hidden Children: The Secret Survivors of the Holocaust, ed. Jane Marks (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1993), pp.285–286.Google Scholar
  32. 44.
    Henry Krystal, ‘Integration and Self-Healing in Psychotraumatic States’, Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Holocaust, eds. Steven A. Luel and Paul Marcus (New York: KTAV, 1984), p.125.Google Scholar
  33. 45.
    Arthur A. Cohen, The Tremendum: A Theological Interpretation of the Holocaust (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1981), p.2.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • S. Lillian Kremer

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