Acts of Deposition: Gender and Testimony in the Scrolls of Auschwitz
This chapter reflects on gender roles in the Sonderkommando writings, more specifically on the ways in which the testimony from other survivors, including women, can be brought into dialogue with those writings. We argue that attending to the Scrolls provides important insights into sexual violence as it manifested in the extermination camp. This violence was one that members of the SK worked hard to bear witness to and understand. We look at Zalman Lewental and Zalman Gradowski’s brief accounts of the death of SS-Unterscharführer Joseph Schillinger alongside other versions of the same incident that came out of Auschwitz-Birkenau to show the complex figurings of masculinity and femininity in their retellings. We then go on to consider Gradowski’s reflections about the violence of the male gaze as it was experienced by women in the crematorium undressing room and about female attempts to circumvent that violence, and finally to Leyb Langfus’s own meditations on sadism, basing this last part on a material analysis of his original manuscript.