More and More I see the holocaust as a direct assault upon the reading life.
This is my first observation of International Holocaust Day. All this week I hope to post in observation of this event.
Ravensbrück Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm is the first book length study that focuses on Ravensbrück, a concentration camp exclusively for women. Most sent there were Jews but there were also Gypsies, Jehovah' Witnesses, political prisoners and common criminals. On a side note I recently read a memoir by a French Jewish woman who survived Auschwitz who was asked when she returned to Paris if she had been raped by camp guards or German soldiers. She said no there were very few cases of sexual contact between guards and inmates as the women were regarded as filthy vermin, just to kiss a Jewish woman could lead to the death penalty for a German guard. The camp for women was set up because it was felt a mass of women would have less use as laborers than men so the killing process would be excelerated as women inmates would less be able to work for a shorter time then men.
Non-Jewish criminal inmates were given the jobs of running the various barracks. Everyday was a struggle to survive and food became the overwhelming obsession.
Helm goes into a lot of detail explaining the operations of the camp. She also details the liberation of the camp by Russian soldiers and the frantic attempts of the Nazis to kill as many Jews as they could once they realized the war was lost.
This is a very much worth reading book.