Women In The Holocaust
The Holocaust was a period of time in which six million people were brutally slaughtered at the hands of merciless perpetrators in an effort to create a ‘pure’ race. Death found its way to the Jewish race without discriminating against age, marital or economic status or gender. But as the days, months and even years of the Holocaust elapsed, gender played a large part in the roles and treatment of both the perpetrators and victims. During this terrible time period, both the Jewish women and their German perpetrators faced experiences and situations that were different from their male counterparts. As the Nazis came to power, there were significant changes to the lives of all women. Though facing exceedingly different situations from one another, both the Jewish and Nazi women were pigeonholed into following men, being viewed as the inferior gender, and encountering a ruthless rape culture.
In the 1930’s and 1940’s , the feminist and women’s empowerment movements had yet to take shape. Thus women from all backgrounds shared a lifestyle that involved housework, cooking, cleaning, and child bearing and rearing. In essence, the women of the early 20th century were the caretakers of their families while the men were the breadwinners. In addition, both groups of women were seen as the inferior gender and generally viewed as the weaker and less qualified sex. This perception of inferiority played out differently for the two groups of women.
While for the most part, many German women maintained a seemingly stereotypical role at home, the Holocaust forced Jewish women to take on completely new roles within the household. With the installment of the Nuremberg Laws, men lost their jobs and thus their economic status and security. And in turn, “the women, by contrast, had to cope with a new and growing burden of work.”1 So not only do they have to take care of everything at home but the Jewish women also had to bring in money to support their...