"The Unethical and the Unspeakable"
Joan Ringelheim's April 7, 1981 lecture at the National Conference for Christians and Jews (presently National Conference for Community and Justice).
Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
1981 April 07
Conference papers and proceedings.
2 sound cassettes.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joan Ringelheim
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 22:01:41
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn700324
Also in Joan Ringelheim collection
The Joan Ringelheim collection consists of materials related to Dr. Ringelheim's scholarly work on the subject of women and the Holocaust and includes oral history interviews; writings, recorded lectures, subject files, printed materials, and correspondence documenting her research; and planning materials, correspondence, and photographs from Ringelheim's conference “Women Surviving: The Holocaust" which was held at Stern College in 1983.
Date: approximately 1980-2008
Oral history interview with Cecile Kassow
Cecile Kassow (née Cymer, also spelled Cimmer), born October 23, 1923 in Czosnów, Poland, discusses the importance of weapons to the partisans; life with the partisans, including the romantic relationships; how she first learned about antisemitism from a childhood friend; memories from living in the Postow ghetto; working for the German commandant as a waitress; helping people escape the ghetto through use of the files she encountered while serving tables; the fatal shooting of her father while in the ghetto and her narrow escape after the policeman’s gun jammed; being hit by a jealous mother whose children had all been murdered; her mother’s relocation to the Postow ghetto in December 1942; her mother’s death in the ghetto; memories of the prevalence of prostitution, sexual violence, and abortions in the ghetto; the unjustified reputation she received as a result of guards repeatedly propositioning her for sexual favors; being saved by a non-Jewish farmer who put on a yellow star to infiltrate the ghetto where she resided; hiding in a hole in the floor of a barn from June 1942 until October 1943; her younger sister’s escape from the ghetto; how her sister joined her under the floor where she was hiding in December of 1942; how her sister gave birth in nearby woods without any medical support; being bathed and fed by Polish farmers who were also housing her best friend from school, Helen Vunkiewicz, and had saved hundreds of other Jews; bombing around the ghetto; reuniting with her brothers, one of whom risked his life many times to supply stolen weapons to prisoners; and her struggles with emotional health after the war.
Oral history interview with Chevka Svedosh
Chevka Svedosh, born in May 1919 in Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania, discusses the backgrounds of her parents before the war; living in Vilna through the age of five; moving to Warsaw, Poland and being raised in the Warsaw ghetto through most of her childhood; belonging to the youth group her father directed; her father’s political journalism and subsequent persecution by German authorities; her romantic relationships and sex-education in Warsaw; her mother’s resourceful efforts to feed hospitalized children as well as her own children in 1939, despite the severe lack of food; her father’s escape to Russia and Japan, while she stayed with her headstrong mother to care for other victims; the lack of contraception and abundant access to abortion services within Warsaw because of the high rates of pregnancy; graduating from nursing school in 1940 and working in a Jewish hospital; meeting her future husband Ludwig through the hospital where they were both employed; the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943; and her life experiences after the war.
Oral history interview with Gina Sack
Gina Sack, born on October 19, 1924 in Warsaw, Poland, discusses her childhood; her Zionist parents; her experiences studying at an elite art school as a teenager; travelling to Israel two or three years before the war; the bombing of Warsaw; her experiences in Warsaw, including feelings of guilt over wearing nice clothes to a café surrounded by dying children and starving people; leaving Warsaw in April 1943 via cattle car for Majdanek; her experiences in the Radom ghetto for the year she resided at the camp; her forced walk from Radom to Auschwitz; cessation of her menstrual periods while in the ghettos and camps; her comments about the fluidity of gender roles within ghettos, in contrast to rigid gender roles enforced in death camps; exploiting her sexual attractiveness to persuade male camp guards to give her better shelter; her memories of interactions with Kapos; witnessing prisoners changing line-up positions during roll calls to keep each other warm; taking her cousin’s coat after the cousin died in a hospital from complications from an abortion; her interactions with Elie Wiesel; giving her bread to her younger brother each night through an electric fence; the murder of her brother; her constant fear of being raped by German guards; making a facial paste with her mother and cousin to make herself look less attractive in an effort to discourage men from sexually violating her; liberation; and travelling to Israel after the war.
Oral history interview with Roszka Korchack and Fanny Loc
Roszka Korchak, born in 1921, discusses her experiences interacting with fellow captives, many of whom were women younger than she, in a ghetto (for which she does not specify a name); and, in discussion with Fanny Loc, reflects on her feelings both about gender roles, sex differences, and about literature written by survivors.
Oral history interview with Susan Roth
Susan Roth, who is a relative of Judy Freeman and the sister of Perry Roth, born August 14, 1914, discusses her family’s background and religious beliefs; riding in a cattle car to Auschwitz; being shaved upon camp arrival in 1944; roll calls; being tattooed; her memories of living in barracks; the cessation of her menstrual cycle while imprisoned; asking Dr. Mengele to spare her mother’s life; her mother’s deathbed remarks of disgust that Susan interacted with such a “villain;” the lethal gassing of her sister; stealing clothes to give to other prisoners and other acts of sabotage she performed while imprisoned at Auschwitz; befriending a young Polish girl; being beaten when she bent down to pick up a small onion; first learning of the crematoria; her experiences working at a motorcycle factory in Saxony, Germany until April 4, 1945; her observation of encounters with lesbian women in the factory; her escape from the locked factory and flight into nearby woods when a bombing started; and seeing herself in a mirror for the first time after her time in Auschwitz.
Oral history interview with Lillian Saunders
Lillian Saunders (née Konigsbach), born in 1929 in Munkatch, Czechoslovakia (Mukacheve, Ukraine), discusses her family; the family business; her father’s death in 1939; her siblings; how the men were taken for forced labor beginning in 1940; antisemitic laws; her memories of Theresienstadt; her daily experiences with her sister in Auschwitz in 1944; barely missing selections and twice being saved from gas chambers; the cessation of her menstrual period, which she attributes to drugged food in camp; sleeping arrangements in the barracks; her fear of being raped by German and Hungarian men while imprisoned; her family relations and life after her liberation; and her postwar work as a bookkeeper for thirteen years.
Oral history interview with Mary Roll
Mary Roll, born in November 1909 in Czernowitz, Romania (Chernivtsi, Ukraine), discusses her childhood; her experiences with antisemitic Russians; trading her clothes to peasants for food; giving up her seven-year-old daughter to the Red Cross camp visitors in hope that her daughter would survive the war; daily life in Mogilev (Mahiliou), Belarus; her husband’s death in 1942; liberation; being smuggled by her brother across the border into Germany in 1945; her work for the American Army, reading mail; immigrating to the United States in 1945 and working in a hospital as a bookkeeper; and her difficulties raising her daughter after the war.
Oral history interview with Olga Ritter
Olga Ritter, born in August 10, 1915 in Humenne, Czechoslovakia (Humenné, Slovakia), discusses her family; her father’s vinegar factory; getting married in 1939; how her husband and father had to hide because there was a search for male Jews; the gradual enactment of antisemitic laws; being caught trying to cross the border; her wartime experiences and her memories of some women who were imprisoned with her in Auschwitz, including Helen Ickowitz, Rachel Szatmary, Ibi Austern, and her niece, Evelyn Ritter; and her mother and three sisters.
Oral history interview with Perry Roth
Perry Roth (née Freed), born December 16, 1915 in Užhorod, Czechoslovakia (Uzhhorod, Ukraine), discusses the arrival of Polish immigrants in Užhorod; how when the Germans arrived they took over a large Jewish home; her family life and her sister, Susan Roth; her father’s death in 1921; the collection of Jewish property; seeing the forced march to a ghetto; not having to go the ghetto because her father was dead; the laws and restrictions placed on Jews; her experiences on the transport to Lübberstedt, Germany; her year-long imprisonment in Lübberstedt; arriving at Auschwitz and seeing the infamous sign; the last time she saw her step-father and step-brother; the selection process; being separated from her mother and beaten; the gas chambers; her time in Auschwitz; being forced to sing German songs when they marched to work; working at an underground munitions factory filling bombshells near Lübberstedt; leaving Lübberstedt in April 1945, traveling by foot, trucks, and train; experiencing air raids; how many of their group got on a boat, which was subsequently bombed; how the SS guards pleaded for forgiveness when they realized the Germans were going to lose; being liberated on May 6, 1945 by the British Army; being put in a displaced persons camp; her fiancé’s immigration to the United States in 1939; working with her cousins for the British Army as waitresses; going to Paris, France where her fiancé was stationed and getting married; and immigrating to the U.S.
Oral history interview with Judy Freeman
Judy Freeman (née Beitscher), born March 2, 1929, discusses her childhood in Uzhorzad, Czechoslovakia (Uzhhorod, Ukraine); her deportation to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen; her experiences while imprisoned in the camps; her fear of rape upon entering the camps; various forms of humiliation inflicted on women in the camps; effects on her menstruation while imprisoned; daily life in labor camps; her experiences with crematoriums; her interactions with Dr. Mengele; her memories of a death march in 1944, during which two friends helped her survive; the liberation of Bergen-Belsen; moving to the United States with her husband, a fellow survivor; and her public speaking and journalism about her wartime experiences.
Oral history interview with Nellie Dunkel
Nellie B. Dunkel (née Blit), born in Warsaw, Poland in 1931, discusses her family relations before the war; how her mother was a scientist and worked with the resistance; the arrest of her father how her uncle smuggled jewelry to German civilians; being taken out of the ghetto with her fraternal-twin sister and how it was difficult for her mother to let her children go; her experiences hiding in a cellar with her extended family; her early views on religion and experiences in places of worship; being sexually harassed and attacked by Polish men during the war; and her post-war schooling in England.
Oral history interview with Susan Cernyak-Spatz
Susan Cernyak-Spatz (née Eckstein), born in Vienna, Austria in 1922, describes her family’s concerns about Hitler in 1933; the gradual deprivation of Jewish citizens’ rights in Vienna; moving to Prague, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic) in 1938; her father’s plan to move her family across the border illegally into Poland and then Belgium to escape the Nazis; being arrested with her mother in Prague; being deported in 1942 to Theresienstadt; her choice to separate from her mother who was gassed upon arrival at Auschwitz; her later deportation to Auschwitz in 1943; the physical effects of camp food on the prisoners’ bodies; her brief experience as a political interrogation stenographer in Auschwitz and her use of the exclusive privileges accompanying that position; her attempt at a romantic relationship as a prisoner; her efforts to foster a sense of community between women in the labor camps to keep each others’ spirits alive; and her views on women’s forced reliance on male authority figures in the business world.
Oral history interview with Rose Bour
Rose Bour, born in Miskolc, Hungary on July 2, 1919, describes moving to Czechoslovakia when she was 18 months old; her family; how her father moved to the United States when she was very young, leaving his wife and three children; her experiences as a hairdresser before the war; her deportation to and three year imprisonment in Auschwitz; acts of humiliation inflicted upon women in camp; the fleas in the camp; having her hair shaved 12 times while she was in the camp; her mother’s arrival at Auschwitz; witnessing her mother being marched to the gas chamber; her experiences in the barracks; being spared from the gas chamber by Commandant Hess (Höss) in 1944; additional instances in which she was unintentionally spared from death by Nazi hands; her forced labor in the sauna, shaving new prisoners; her experiences bartering hair-coiffing to a female SS officer in exchange for cigarettes and bread; cooking for the officer whose hair she styled; dining with her Kapo; prostitution among prisoners and Polish gentiles; violence inflicted upon women and girls in the camp; her friendship with a camp woman; Dr. Mengele’s attempts to sterilize women; her emphasis on maintaining working friendships with fellow female prisoners in order to help each other survive; and her post-war experience starting a family.
Oral history interview with Marion Davis
Marion Davis (née Lazarus but changed to Landers in 1926), born in Hamburg, Germany on July 26, 1922, discusses her childhood in Munich and Berlin as the Nazis gradually restricted social activities; her lack of religious consciousness before the war; her desire to change her name to “Miriam,” a Jewish name, but her parents refusal because they feared she would be killed as a result; turning eleven years old when Hitler came to power; being sheltered from understanding the social conditions in Germany; wanting to join the Bund Deutsche Martin for the Hitler Youth in grade school; her loss of access to education while in hiding; her reflections on the differences in societal expectations for men and women; sexism in the Nazi regime; getting food on the black market; having difficulty getting visas; her networking with a communist companion; sex-education in her school; her pre-war interest in linguistics; living with her first love and his mother; her family’s fear of being resettled once the war began; the arrests of her cousin, mother, and sister; the Dutch underground movement that extended to Berlin; whistling “Lili Marlene” as a resistance song; conditions while she was in hiding; being liberated by the Russians on May 10, 1945; the Russian soldiers who stayed in her building and the threat of sexual assault; the sexual assault of the women in her building, including her mother; how one woman committed suicide after being raped; the punishment of the Russian soldiers for attacking women; and the gratification she took in belonging to a group persecuted by the Nazis because of her magnetism toward aiding disadvantaged persons.
Joan Ringelheim papers
The Joan Ringelheim papers consist of materials related to the conference Ringelheim organized in 1983, “Women Surviving: The Holocaust,” including conference planning materials, correspondence, and photographs, as well as writings, lectures, subject files, printed materials, and correspondence documenting Ringelheim’s scholarly work on the subject of women and the Holocaust. The “Women Surviving: The Holocaust” series documents the groundbreaking conference Ringelheim organized in New York in 1983 on the topic of women and the Holocaust and combining Holocaust study with feminist theory. The series includes conference planning materials, correspondence, and photographs. Subseries 1 includes applications, announcements, notes, proceedings, questionnaires, reports, and clippings documenting the organization, execution, and evaluation of the “Women Surviving: The Holocaust” conference. Subseries 2 includes correspondence with conference organizers, participants, attendees, and interested parties and documents conference planning as well as reflections and feedback following the conference. Subseries 3 consist of photographs depicting conference organizers, participants, and attendees during conference registration, presentations, workshops, and breaks. The writings series consists of published and unpublished articles, lectures, and essays as well as a book proposal and unpublished book manuscript. Most of the writings document RIngelheim’s work combining feminist theory with Holocaust studies. Subject files consists of notes, correspondence, printed materials, and photocopies of source materials on topics related to women’s experiences during the Holocaust. Subjects include lesbians, menstruation, pregnancy, abortion, and the shaving of women’s head. This series also includes statistical information about transports, labor selection, murder, and survival rates in several countries, ghettos, and concentration camps examining patterns of difference between women’s and men’s experiences. Printed materials include clippings about Joan Ringelheim and her academic work as well as photocopies of articles by other Holocaust scholars about the experiences of women during the Holocaust. The small correspondence series consists of correspondence Ringelheim received from Irene Eber and Raul Hilberg about their academic careers and research pursuits. This series also includes praise and criticism in responses to Ringelheim’s article “Women and the Holocaust: A Reconsideration of Research” published in Signs in 1985.
Oral history interview with Helen Spitzer Tichauer
Opening session and workshops on ghettos
Workshops on concentration camps
"The Camp Setting"
Lecture by Henry Friedlander
Workshops on Resistance and Non-compliance
"Women and the Holocaust"
Joan Ringelheim's April 7, 1983 lecture at Woman Books in New York, NY.
"Women and the Holocaust: A Reconsideration"
Joan Ringelheim's December 29, 1984 lecture at the APA.
Lectures at Hunter College
Post Women and the Holocaust conference discussion