Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration

Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration
    Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration history."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 768 pages
  • Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women
  • Sarah Helm
  • English
  • 14 February 2017
  • 038552059X

Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women⚣ [PDF] ✅ Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women By Sarah Helm ✰ – Essayreview.co.uk A groundbreaking, masterful, and absorbing account of the last hidden atrocity of World War II Ravensbr ck the largest female only concentration camp, where than , women consisting of than twenty nati A groundbreaking, masterful, and absorbing account of the and Death Epub à last hidden atrocity of World War II Ravensbr ck the largest female only concentration camp, where than , women consisting of than twenty nationalities were imprisonedShortly 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 Ravensbr ck, and during the years that followed thousands of people died there after Ravensbrück: Life PDF \ enduring brutal forms of torture All were women There are a handful of studies and memoirs that reference Ravensbr ck, 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 Ravensbr ck 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 Life and Death Epub á 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, Ravensbr ck is essential reading for anyone concerned with Nazi history.


About the Author: Sarah Helm

Sarah Helm born November is a and Death Epub à British journalist and non fiction writer She worked for The Sunday Times and The Independent in the s and s Her first book A Life in Secrets, detailing the life of the secret agent Vera Atkins, was published in .


10 thoughts on “Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women

  1. says:

    I understood now what this book should be a biography of Ravensbr ck beginning at the beginning and ending at the end, piecing the broken story back together again as best I could The book would try to throw light on the Nazis crimes against women, showing, at the same time, how an understanding of what happened at the camp for women can illuminate the wider Nazi story Brief History lesson Ravensbr ck, the largest concentration camp for women, was constructed in 1938 and officially opened i I understood now what this book should be a biography of Ravensbr ck beginning at the beginning and ending at the end, piecing the broken story back together again as best I could The book would try to throw light on the Nazis crimes against women, showing, at the same time, how an understanding of what happened at the camp for women can illuminate the wider Nazi story Brief History lesson Ravensbr ck, the largest concentration camp for women, was constructed in 1938 and officially opened in May 1939, the camp was situated 90 km north of Berlin In size, the camp was second only to Auschwitz Birkenau and by January 1945, Ravensbr ck would holdthan 50,000 prisoners, the majority women from 30 different nationalities Although there were Jewish female prisoners in the camp, the SS saw the camp as an appropriate place to house political prisoners Communists , asocials such as the Roma Jehovah Witnesses, prostitutes, and race defilers women of impure race sleeping with men of the Aryan race , members of the French resistance, British female agents caught in France etc These women were forced into labor, including making supplies for the German army at the nearby Siemens factory Many of the Polish women became rabbits for the camp doctors, including sterilization, and being injected with gangrene gas When the Auschwitz Birkenau camp staff was forced to flee from the Soviets in Poland, Ravensbr ck quickly became an extermination camp as the SS hurried to hide evidence before the Allied troops would arrive in Germany After the war, many survivors were told that their stories of Ravensbr ck didn t need to be heard or that their countrymen wouldn t be interested in learning of their suffering and so many stayed quiet Sorry to get personal but When I was 22 and at university studying for my education degree, I attended a session in which I heard my first Holocaust survivor testimony, a man who lost his parents and all seven of his siblings in the camps, who survived Auschwitz, immigrated to Canada and for forty years never spoke to anyone about his experiences during the war Although his closest friends knew that he was Jewish, he never told them he was a survivor of the Holocaust He only decided to talk when the stories of Holocaust denial began to surface and he realized that he no longer could be silent During the QA, a young man, a history major, asked As a Holocaust survivor, which film Schindler s List or The Pianist has done a better job of telling the story of the Holocaust survivor You can imagine that all 100 people, including myself, leaned in to hear what he would say because of course we had watched those films He thought for a long moment and said Honestly, if Hollywood were ever to make a movie on what we all went through in those camps, no one in Canada or the United States would ever want to see it What he said that night lingers with me every time I read a book or watch a movie fiction or non fictionWhat I thought Sarah Helm presents a meticulously written account of what the many women of the camp endured during a six year period The truth is that there are not many books devoted to the Ravensbr ck camp and it is clear to see that Helm wants to have the voices of these women heard because for many it is the first time It reminded me of A Train in Winter An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France which also faced a lot of criticism from readers about how cumbersome it became having so many women introduced within chapters My suggestion to future readers is to make sure you have a hard copy of the book to flip back and forth to the footnotes with ease As well, don t be afraid to take breaks Each chapter or multiple chapters present testimony after testimony of what women from the different countries endured at the hands of the Ravensbr ck guards, doctors, and even among one another I had to read the book in small increments of time because there was only so much I felt that I could handle Although Helm does her best to maintain chronological order in the text, she also does have to let the readers know that sometimes she is actually speaking with one of the survivors So, she mentions things like sitting at their kitchen table in Moscow or Israel, or Germany I never felt this hinder my reading experience because there is also repetition of some names and events SO, I couldn t exactly forget Helm also focuses on some of the recognizable names that found themselves at the camp Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, Genevieve de Gaulle niece of a certain French general , Mary Lindell British nurse living in France that helped Allied airmen until she was caught by the Gestapo , British agents under the command of The Spymistress Vera Atkins and Germaine Tillion, who published a memoir in 1946 about her experiences in the campRavensbr ck On the subject of the Nuremberg and Hamburg trials Helm mentions that Tillion was critical and wrote to the effectIt was impossible to try the crimes of the abnormal world of concentration camps within the confines of a normal court Only the accused and the witnesses understood the abnormal world , which made them partners in the sharing of this awful knowledge the rest of the world was in the darkThe camp was a training ground or stepping stone for female guards to practice their skills and if they caught the eyes of their leadership, they would be able to be promoted to the coveted job as a guard in Auschwitz There is actually this segment in the book where Helm details how Rudolf H ss, commandant of Auschwitz, accuses one of the commandants of Ravensbr ck, of keeping the best female guards for himself Proving that even German high command could resort to pettiness There are inserts all the way through of the line of thinking of the top ranking Nazis, but Helm really concentrates on providing the reader with anecdotes on Heinrich Himmler as he often visited the camps Some I felt were interesting and others seemed ill placed given whatever the focus of the chapter was So why has the Ravensbr ck camp been largely ignored In her epilogue, Helm sums up some of the scholarly answers that have cropped up over the years It was smaller scale than many others it didn t fit easily into the central narrative camp documents had been completely destroyed it was hidden behind the Iron Curtain the prisoners were only women yet it is precisely because this was a camp for women that Ravensbr ck should have shaken the conscience of the world I am going to leave it there because Sarah Helm goes on to say a lot of other that no doubt has and will spark great debate among many readers It may or may not sit well with you, myself, I am still fresh from the reading and I think it will take awhile to process it all I could probably go on and on about this book, but I know that many people will say I cannot read a sad book especially about concentration camps Is it sad Absolutely Do I have to read this book No, it doesn t have to be this book In fact, if you can attend an event in your community and hear a survivor or visit a Holocaust museum, that s even better Thanks to all my Goodreads pals that cheered me along and have continuously engaged with me in discussions regarding this book

  2. says:

    Disclaimer ARC via Netgalley Is anyone else, besides me, tired of movies where men do everything and are the heroes and women are mere appendages Why, for instance, are heroic men usually highlighted in various ways from best Oscar nods to HBO mini series to be the detective who should get smacked This isn t to discredit men, after all the Founding Fathers were men so simply calling them the Founders is a bit, well, facile However, not all women heroes are suffragettes, white women saving p Disclaimer ARC via Netgalley Is anyone else, besides me, tired of movies where men do everything and are the heroes and women are mere appendages Why, for instance, are heroic men usually highlighted in various ways from best Oscar nods to HBO mini series to be the detective who should get smacked This isn t to discredit men, after all the Founding Fathers were men so simply calling them the Founders is a bit, well, facile However, not all women heroes are suffragettes, white women saving poor Africans don t get me started or surviving cancer and or abusive and cheating husbands We have Band of Brothers and the Pacific When we have shows about women in World War II, they are usually about women like Miep Giles who rescued There is little about women resistance members unless it is a love story , spies, snipers, or tank drivers Take for instance, the subject of Sarah Helm s previous book, Vera Atkins, who in many cases, if she is remembered, will be remembered as the inspiration for Miss Moneypenny, who seems to be far away from Miss Moneypenny was Winnie the Pooh is from a real bear It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Helm s latest book is about Ravensbruck Camp, a prison camp under the Nazis that housed women At first glance, a reader might think that this is yet another story about women surviving victimhood, but it s not At least not unless you considered the Great Escape the same type of story Honestly, there needs to be a movie made about the woman who escaped by basically tightrope walking the fence Seriously, calling Angelina Jolie Helm details not only life at the camp as well as the history of those who found themselves imprisoned there, but also the building of the place She examines why guards wanted to work there as well as the conflict between the Johanna Langefeld, the head woman guard and Kogel, the Sturmbannfuher Langefeld and her relation to the camp is one of the most interesting aspects of narrative Helms does not try to soften the woman, andthan once points out that Langefeld was an ardent follower of Hitler, but Langefeld was also conflicted for she saw Ravensbruck as a prison, and to her that meant certain things A level of humanity that the Nazis above her were not willing to sanction Another great aspect of this book is that Helm brings to light the treatment of groups other than Jews and gypsies There is a particularly gripping account of the protests and treatment of Jehovah s Witnesses, who were subjected to all types of punishments because of their refusal to work Helms also looks closely at political prisoners and the captured female Red Army soldiers The most disturbing, touching, depressing part of the book is the description on the anti socials, largely prostitutes, whose names are largely forgotten for a variety of reasons Helm herself is quick to note thatof her interviews and sources came from groups other than the anti socials, mostly political and resistance figures Helm notes that because of the opinions of the other groups as well as the lack of records means that what happened to these women is largely lost Additionally, Ravensbruck was not just home to lost women relatives of de Gaul and La Guardia found themselves there as well It is too Helm s credit that she also focuses on what happened half, not only when the camp was liberated but also on what happened to some of the women afterward, in particular those of the Soviet Army The book not only is a look at history that is not well known but also on how gender affects views of events as well as reaction to them At least Helm s book goes a long way in bringing light on a section of World War II not often discussed

  3. says:

    Wow What a chunkster of a book basically 3 books in one Too big a burden to carry most places, and you almost need a bipod to set the thing on while you read it A thick, thick bookand I was riveted to every page Any other book this dense has caused my attention to lapse at least a little, but this one caught my interest early and kept it right through to the Acknowledgements.Ravensbruck was an anomaly as far as death concentration camps were concerned Officially I suppose it s a concent Wow What a chunkster of a book basically 3 books in one Too big a burden to carry most places, and you almost need a bipod to set the thing on while you read it A thick, thick bookand I was riveted to every page Any other book this dense has caused my attention to lapse at least a little, but this one caught my interest early and kept it right through to the Acknowledgements.Ravensbruck was an anomaly as far as death concentration camps were concerned Officially I suppose it s a concentration camp, since the Jewish council of Germany decided it couldn t be called a death camp because only Jewish camps were allowed that dubious distinction Never mind that an unknown number of women were murdered here, estimated between 26,000 and 90,000 but who really knows, doesn t matter, can t be a death camp They were starved, hanged, shot and gassed, possibly cremated alive, but no death camp designation for this place Ravensbruck was unique in that it was a women s camp, it was on German soil, and also in that Jewish women were in the minority Clustered within the walls you would find gypsies, British SOE agents, French resistance operatives, German asocial types which would include anything from murderesses and prostitutes to homeless women who had lost their husbands and sons to the Reich Eventually, captured Soviet servicewomen, taken as POWs, would also suffer here.Sarah Helm has travelled extensively to interview the survivors of this camp, and tells as complete a story as is possible under the circumstances Most documentation pertaining to the camp was destroyed, and much of the bit that survived was smuggled out by inmates She tries to tell as fair a story as possible where a German was kind, which was not unusual, it is noted I felt particularly sorry for Johanna Langefeld, first chief woman guard of the camp, who was eventually fired for excessive kindness As a result of the even handed reporting, a lot of the inmates do not come out with particularly glowing report cards There were whiners, informants, bullies, thieves, and sadists in the ranks, Helm has no reluctance in reporting this Sometimes the inmates who volunteered to assist the guards werebrutal than the guards were.Ravensbruck was definitely a hard luck camp that besmirched everyone involved with it, whether they wore field grey or prison stripes Sometimes the tormentors were outside the wire, as in the case of Cicely Lefort, an Englishwoman who joined SOE at the urging of her French husband After her capture and internment, she gets a letter from him requesting a divorce Talk about kicking them while they re down And Frau Thuringer, who lost three sons to the war was imprisoned by the very country they had fought for She was murdered in a hallway.In fact, the whole world seemed ready to crap on these women, with the exception of Sweden The Allies would not negotiate their release with Himmler American troops halted at the Elbe in order to let Russian troops take Berlinmeanwhile, these women are being killed in their hundreds daily When Count Bernadotte of Sweden, on his own initiative, arranged limited release of inmates, the Americans refused them safe passage and at least one convoy was strafed by the British The Russians finally liberated the campand then raped and raped and raped They raped sick women on their cotsthey raped women with babies.they even raped their own female POWs their comrades in arms They raped everything with a pulse and opposable digits, seemingly with very little opposition from authority Does the Russian Army have no Military Police What the hell is with these guys As one woman is quoted on page 626The Germans never raped the prisoners because we were Russian swine, but our own soldiers raped us We were disgusted that they behaved like this Stalin had said that no soldier should be taken prisoner, so they felt they could treat us like dirt I have the greatest respect for the Russian women soldiers who worked as a team and put up a brave front in captivity, but it s pretty hard not to feel contempt for the common soldiery.I m not going to go on and tell you about the shitty treatment many of the survivors received after liberation You ll have to read that for yourself This is an important book, and you owe it to these women to read it

  4. says:

    This is the best non fictional work available on Ravensbr ck, the female concentration camp opened in 1939 fifty miles north of Berlin, and liberated six years later by the Russians One of the most neglected horrors of the Nazi regime actually only a few memoirs written by former inmates, often contradicting each other, have ever provided any account of the events that took place in the camp Why Because at the end of the war the small village of Ravensbr ck found itself in the Russian occupie This is the best non fictional work available on Ravensbr ck, the female concentration camp opened in 1939 fifty miles north of Berlin, and liberated six years later by the Russians One of the most neglected horrors of the Nazi regime actually only a few memoirs written by former inmates, often contradicting each other, have ever provided any account of the events that took place in the camp Why Because at the end of the war the small village of Ravensbr ck found itself in the Russian occupied zone, soon to become East Germany DDR the camp was therefore turned into a monument to the communist Resistence, even though no information was available to the West until the Iron Curtain fell After the trials of 1946 the world forgot about the female lager, in spite of the huge number of victims It s still impossible indeed to determine how many women died in the camp, since the inmates files were mostly destroyed in the final days 30.000 90.000 Jewish, French, Polish, Dutch, Russian women were killed by starvation, overwork, illness, beatings not to mention the Gypsies, whose arrival was often unscheduled and left no trace of their presence in the camp Sarah Helm s is the first real attempt to tell the story of these women, by providing the most complete anatomy of Ravensbr ck to date Helm s main source of information are British counterintelligence dossiers and interviews in which the author herself met some of the survivors She wants the reader to be aware of a fact a great deal of the witness available so far has been unconsciously used as a means of political propaganda, so that only the political prisoners those wearing red triangles on their camp uniforms have been remembered and honoured The greens so called criminals and blacks the asocials, ranging from prostitutes to homosexuals to Gypsies to numberless other categories were just not worth mentioning in any Memorial Day behind the Iron Curtain Helm has indeed the merit to tell about their suffering and remember their existence names, stories, words said and heard are finally brought back from the limbo of oblivion and treated with the respect that is due to any victim.Neither some of the greatest female personalities of the time were spared the horrors of Ravensbr ck, though Milena Jesenska Kafka s Czech lover , Olga Benario the legendary Jewish and communist activist , Grete B Neumann another communist who was imprisoned in one of Stalin s Siberian gulag before being handed out to the Nazis , the British secret agent Yvonne Basaden are only some of the inmate celebrities , as they were known by their fellow prisoners, who found themselves struggling for survival their own as well as the other women s Helm s work becomes unbearably and necessarily detailed when it comes to describing the unthinkable medical experiments that took place in the camp hospital As almost any concentration camp, Ravensbr ck provided an unlimited supply of human guinea pigs and disposable victims SS doctors were assigned the task to perform on the prisoners on account of the army and various farmaceutical firms The Ravensbr ck doctors, male and female, crippled dozens of Poles in order to experiment on their leg bones They were called Rabbits the few survivors among this group would show their horribly mangled shins and thighs during the post war trials, so that some of those doctors were sentenced to death as war criminals As for the camp maternity ward , it s easy to guess what would happen to pregnant women as soon as the pregnancies were ascertained or they gave birth to their babies The camp was also involved in the usual exploitation of slave labour through a net of sub camps, but also inside the main lager some first rank German firms didn t miss the chance to spare money by employing the prisoners No need to say that only a small part of these war profiteers payed for their crimes From the meanness of the informers to the sadistic attitude of the kapos Blockovas in the inmates jargon , Helm unravels the darkest side of daily life in a concentration camp, in which courage and abjection, good and evil become part of everyone s soul Nobody is totally guilty nor totally innocent when it comes to surviving it s a state of the mind far beyond judgment not by any common standard, at least Not from our safe, distant, external point of view That s why the author also talks about the trivial aspects of the guards lives they were part of it too and must be remembered, even though for different reasons Lakeside picnics, delightful pastimes Maria Mandl was seen playing the piano, in absolute ecstasy, after beating a prisoner to death , drunken orgies, Olympia rolls, inner conflicts Johannna Langefeld, the first female commander, was deeply upset by the SS barbarous rules and was dismissed from both Ravensbr ck and Auschwitz in favour of tougher women the guards were mostly country girls in their twenties who got involved in something bigger than them Some of those girls surrendered to their worst instincts and turned into monsters, like the outstandingly young and beautiful Dorothea Binz and Irma Grese soon to be known as The Beautiful Beast of Auschwitz and Belsen Binz became Oberaufseherin female chief supervisor and her insane ferociousness terrified her unfortunate prisoners for years On the other side, the heroism of many inmates was incredible some of them defied death to help a friend or sabotage the Nazi killing machine The Red Army women and French partisans also played an important role in the camp underground resistence the author tells us about the iron discipline of the Russians, as well as the French prisoners pride in the daily struggle to survive and help each other Alas, not even liberation was easy The Red Army soldiers didn t hesitate to rape the exhausted women and pillage the camp, so that the inmates found themselves utterly abandoned still suffering and starving, until the international Red Cross sent buses and trains to pick them up and give them medical care It took a long time though for the women to join their families those of them who still had any relative, of course Whole families had been destroyed by forced migration, deportation, executions In these cases, leaving Ravensbr ck was the beginning of an entirely new kind of sorrow the loss of hope It was the hope to come back to their families that had kept those poor creatures alive we can only imagine how devastatingly alone they must have felt how painful freedom would be Sarah Helm s work is perfect, from any point of view The book is exceptionally documented and well written Its 658 pages followed by an interesting bibliography and detailed notes are a tribute to six years of suffering and dying the voices of these women are finally speaking again to the outside world, to that world that s been ignoring them for decades There are also many pictures of the women mentioned in the text the Russian fighters, the guards enjoying themselves on sunny afternoons, the Polish Rabbits with their wounded legs, the perpetrators on trial, the mass of anonymous victims I can t honestly say that I enjoyed this book How could anyone enjoy reading about such abomination Nonetheless, I wish I had read it before It made me realise how much I ignored no, how much I presumptuously believed to know about depravity and heroism, forever struggling throughout history for the possession of human soul

  5. says:

    It has taken a fortnight to read this book or, rather, to LIVE this book It is haunting, horrifying and a major work How Sarah Helm endured writing it is almost beyond belief Write it quickly, she was advised but here it is over 600 pages of exhaustive research and interviews, of digging out obscure records and lively interviews.

  6. says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Ravensbr ckA resolution I made upon finishing Sarah Helm s excruciatingly detailed history of Nazi Germany s horrifying punishment camp for women is never again to compare any politician in a democracy to Hitler or persons holding distasteful views to Nazis This was the worst Sarah Helm was the author of Vera Atkins and the Search for the Missing SOE Women Some of them died at Ravensbr ck and most probably Helm s research led her to attempting a full scale history, a 700 page opus telling the Ravensbr ckA resolution I made upon finishing Sarah Helm s excruciatingly detailed history of Nazi Germany s horrifying punishment camp for women is never again to compare any politician in a democracy to Hitler or persons holding distasteful views to Nazis This was the worst Sarah Helm was the author of Vera Atkins and the Search for the Missing SOE Women Some of them died at Ravensbr ck and most probably Helm s research led her to attempting a full scale history, a 700 page opus telling the story from the camp s beginning in 1939 to its liberation by the Soviet Army in 1945 Inverted commas as the Russian soldiers continued their orgy of mass rape even on the camp s survivors Originally the camp was intended for criminals and enemies of the regime, asocials and Communists, but also Jehovah s Witnesses The latter two groups proved to be amongst the most disciplined and principled inmates As German conquests progressed, Czechs, Poles, Russians, French women, and British agents joined them Though the uninterrupted and mostly gratuitous cruelty systematic beatings, starving, musters for roll calls lasting hours in frigid weather almost dulls the reader s capacity for shock, the accounts of the medical experiments were worse.Yet this is also a story of great bravery and courage, particularly by the Polish rabbits and the Soviet Army women doctors and their leader Yevgenia Klemm Elizabeth Wein used this book as a source for her wonderful story Rose Under Fire, and though I cannot imagine many readers who could stomach the seemingly unremitting terrors of Ravensbr ck had I not been listening on audible on a long car journey, I couldn t , the courage and sufferings of the victims deserves remembrance As a male, I was continually struck by how much better women can be at forming relationships for mutual support accounts of Japanese prisoner of war camps have a very different flavour Not that many inmates did not behave abominably, especially the asocials fated to perish without memorials Understandably, the East German regime gave all the credit to the Communists and used them for anti West German propaganda.Though the camp commanders and authorities were all men, women played a major role as guards in abusing the prisoners and as often they seem motivated by simply doing what was expected of them, rather than acting out of innate savagery One of them, Johanna Langefeld, actually assisted the prisoners and saved some from death After the war she was shielded from being punished by the Polish Communists by her former prisoners Like so many wartime horrors, we are left feeling that they bring out the very worst in some and the best in others The moral is obvious but it was worth Sarah Helm s magnificent efforts as a researcher and writer I d place this book alongside Max Hasting s Bomber Command as the best Second World War nonfiction books I ve ever read

  7. says:

    This is a detailed historical account of life in Ravensbr ck, the only German concentration camp designed solely for women It covers the camp from its inception as a place to punish the unwanted in pre war German society i.e communists, Jews, prostitutes, lesbians, etc , it s evolution into a massive slave labor machine, and finally its conversion into a full blown extermination camp Ravensbr ck fell behind the Iron Curtain after the war and it seems that most societies didn t want to hear This is a detailed historical account of life in Ravensbr ck, the only German concentration camp designed solely for women It covers the camp from its inception as a place to punish the unwanted in pre war German society i.e communists, Jews, prostitutes, lesbians, etc , it s evolution into a massive slave labor machine, and finally its conversion into a full blown extermination camp Ravensbr ck fell behind the Iron Curtain after the war and it seems that most societies didn t want to hear about the horrors experienced by the victims As a result, much of its history has been obscured until now Ravensbr ck deeply examines the logistics of the camp operation and the personal stories of both the prisoners and guards, lending unique insight into the psychological atmosphere of the camp This is one of the most important books I ve ever read and one of the most difficult Kate Scottfrom The Best Books We Read In February

  8. says:

    In If This is a Woman, Sarah Helm has written utterly phenomenal study She tells of the atrocities of Ravensbruck, a German concentration camp during the Second World War, and the only one of its kind exclusively for women prisoners It is the first book to write extensively about Ravensbruck, one of the final camps to be liberated by the Russians Only ten percent of Ravensbruck s prisoners were Jewish, contrary to a lot of other camps the rest were arrested due to opposition to the Nazi Part In If This is a Woman, Sarah Helm has written utterly phenomenal study She tells of the atrocities of Ravensbruck, a German concentration camp during the Second World War, and the only one of its kind exclusively for women prisoners It is the first book to write extensively about Ravensbruck, one of the final camps to be liberated by the Russians Only ten percent of Ravensbruck s prisoners were Jewish, contrary to a lot of other camps the rest were arrested due to opposition to the Nazi Party, and were drawn from such groups as communists, Jehovah s Witnesses, and members of the Resistance in various European countries There were also others deemed asocials , who ranged from lesbians to Gypsies Among the prisoners were the cream of Europe s women , including various countesses, a former British golfing champion, and the niece of General de Gaulle.Helm draws upon the published testimonies of Ravensbruck s prisoners, as well as seeking out those who survived the brutal conditions, and studying records of the court case which followed, aiming as it did to punish those who were in charge Her research has been carried out impeccably, particularly considering that the majority of the papers relating to prisoners and conditions were burnt before liberation Helm has aimed to create a biography of Ravensbruck beginning at the beginning and ending at the end, piecing the broken story back together again as best I could The death toll from the camp is unknown, but is estimated to be somewhere between 30,000 and 90,000.Helm s writing style is immensely readable, and her research meticulous If This is a Woman is such a well paced account, and the author never shies away from demonstrating how harrowing the conditions were, and how horrific the injuries and deaths which many within Ravensbruck faced In trying to tell the individual stories of as many women as she possibly could, both prisoners and those who guarded them, she has added an invaluable biography to the field of Holocaust and Second World War studies If This is a Woman won the Longman History Today Prize, which was incredibly well deserved One can only hope that further accolades follow If This is a Woman is, without a doubt, one of my favourite historical studies in terms of its far reaching material and the sensitivity which has been continually demonstrated, as well as one of my books of the year

  9. says:

    This book took me a really long time to read I had to put it down for a few months It is incredibly well researched and the author pulls no punches The book is historical but told in categories and chronology Ravensbruck was a concentration camp in eastern Germany built to re educate women In the beginning, the prisoners were mostly political and asocials A large majority were Polish Of particular interest, Himmler allowed medical experiments to be performed on 76 young, healthy women, This book took me a really long time to read I had to put it down for a few months It is incredibly well researched and the author pulls no punches The book is historical but told in categories and chronology Ravensbruck was a concentration camp in eastern Germany built to re educate women In the beginning, the prisoners were mostly political and asocials A large majority were Polish Of particular interest, Himmler allowed medical experiments to be performed on 76 young, healthy women, beginning with introduction of foreign objects in their legs to copy shrapnel Additionally, bacteria, tetanus, typhus, staff were also administered to the women Eventually, the doctors did experiments that removed bones, muscles, ligaments, to see if they would grow back, maiming the women permanently Those who lived, lived under the protection of other prisoners At all costs, the rabbits were to survive and show the world what had been done to them Their physical maiming was an archetype of the abuse the women suffered every day So then I put it down for a few months In the interim, I picked up a historical fiction called Lilac Girls and recognized names from Ravensbruck I used Ravensbruck as a reference and found myself reading it again Ravensbruck is also the camp where Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy, were held The difference between this and other books about Ravensbruck is that this book is not one single experience but a broad overview of the camp as told by hundreds of sources The author writes about the historical holes that previously existed about Ravensbruck because it was liberated by the Russians by liberated, I mean that the Russians arrived and raped and pillaged the camp and town then fell under communist rule The Polish rabbits that returned to Poland, returned to a country run by Stalin and the Stasi The Russian prisoners were advised to never speak of it Many first hand accounts were destroyed or died in the Gulags It is the best and most comprehensive book I have read about Ravensbruck For an uplifting perspective on forgiveness, read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom For a well researched book including hundreds of perspectives, read this one

  10. says:

    This is an important book.

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