Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women

eBook - 2014
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A groundbreaking, masterful, and absorbing account of the last hidden atrocity of World War II. Ravensbruck--the largest female-only concentration camp, where more than 100,000 women consisting of more than twenty nationalities were imprisoned. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and the architect of the Holocaust, oversaw the construction of a special concentration camp just fifty miles north of Berlin. He called it Ravensbruck, and during the years that followed thousands of people died there after enduring brutal forms of torture. All were women. There are a handful of studies and memoirs that reference Ravensbruck, but until now no one has written a full account of this atrocity, perhaps due to the mostly masculine narrative of war, or perhaps because it lacks the Jewish context of most mainstream Holocaust history. Ninety percent of Ravensbruck's prisoners were not Jewish. Rather, they were political prisoners, Resistance fighters, lesbians, prostitutes, even the sister of New York's Mayor LaGuardia. In a perverse twist, most of the guards were women themselves. Sarah Helm's groundbreaking work sheds much-needed light on an aspect of World War II that has remained in the shadows for decades. Using research into German and newly opened Russian archives, as well as interviews with survivors, Helm has produced a landmark achievement that weaves together various accounts, allowing us to follow characters on both sides of the prisoner/guard divide. Chilling, compelling, and deeply unsettling, Ravensbruck is essential reading for anyone concerned with Nazi history.
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese, 2014
ISBN: 9780385539111
Branch Call Number: EBOOK OVERDRIVE
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Oct 12, 2015

This is a great book on the concentration camp for women, Ravensbruck. It was well researched and well written. It is long with over 650 pages, but well worth the time. Helm took the trouble to find as many people from that time as she could and it shows in the book. Read it !

athompson10 Sep 30, 2015

Meticulously researched and extremely well written. Much of the information in this book is horrifying but the author presents it clearly, concisely and with as many survivors' voices as can be found. It is fascinating to read about the entrenched political, class, religious and national differences among the prisoners at Ravensbruck and how so many of the women were able to work together for their mutual survival.

Feb 13, 2015

RAVENSBRUCK is such a fine example of exemplary non-fiction, treating its horrific and brutal subject with an even hand and a great deal of grace. Author Sarah Helm does not shy away from her subject of Hilter's concentration camp for women, detailing the barbaric conditions, the cruel treatment, and the overall futility. This detail is not offered just to shock; Helm shares it in such a way that the reader's exposure to the horror grows much as it must have for the women, letting us see what terrible impact it made on individuals.

This is what sets RAVENSBRUCK apart: Helm's focus on the women of the camp and their voices, many of which have been virtually unheard in writing about the concentration camps. Throughout the book, Helm takes the time to focus on the different groups brought into the camp and the women of those groups who led or held them together, and who worked to bring humanity into such a desolate place. This allows the reader to see on a human level what love and charity can grow in desperate times (such as the small gifts prisoners made for each other, or how they shared meager food and water), and also how horrible every day details we may not have heard are (stores of food and tinned milk in the storage sheds were discovered as the camp began to be shut down, even as women and babies were dying).


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