PBS Program "3 Women Resist" (2000)

Women and Resistance during the Holocaust

by Rosie, Nicole and Amber

December 7, 2005

for Prof. Marcuse's lecture course
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Holocaust

UC Santa Barbara, Fall 2005
(course homepage, web projects index page)

List of Papers
Resistance by Women
Resistance by Women in Germany

Women in Ghettos & Concentration Camps
Resistance through Gender Roles
(Aubrac, Eman)

Introduction (back to top)

Often, discussions of resistance against the Nazi Regime and its many atrocities focus on men and the role they played. During the years of the Third Reich, men were thought to be able to be more involved in resistance due to physical attributes; however, often overlooked is the role women played in defying the ideology of the Nazi Regime. Women’s forms of resistance were as varied as the women themselves. Female resistors ranged from the wife of an SS officer to a young thirteen year old Jewish girl. Their defiance of the Third Reich is an example of the courage of many who consciously decided that some, if not all, aspects of Nazi Germany needed to be destabilized. The most apparent form of resistance was from the citizens of Germany as they had the most freedom to act within wartime society. Nicole Bronstein will focus on women resistors within Germany and how their actions helped to fight against Nazi oppression. A second from of resistance came from women within concentration camps. Although the possibility of survival was bleak, as Rosie Smith explores, these women still fought against their oppressors. Another less obvious form of resistance, as explained by Amber McDonald, came from the gender roles that women were expected to adhere to in the Third Reich and its influenced territories. In using the traditional expectations of women they were able to use sexist stereotypes to disguise their actions in combating an unsuspecting enemy.

List of Papers (back to top)

Bibliography (back to top)

  • Aubrac, Lucie. Outwitting the Gestapo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
    Outwitting the Gestapo, based on the true story of Lucie Aubrac who worked for the French Resistance during World War II, retells Aubrac’s wartime activities through the form of a diary. Particularly interesting within this book is the way in which the author explains how her own gender helped to aid her in her resistance efforts. By using traditional gender roles, Aubrac was able to further her abilities to work against the Nazis. (Amber McDonald)
  • Baumel, Judith Tydor. Double Jeopardy: Gender and the Holocaust. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 1998.
    Double Jeopardy explores the role that gender stereotypes played in the Holocaust. The author looks into how one’s gender affected social interaction, leadership and heroism. Focusing on the experiences of Jewish women, Baumel stresses the importance gender played in women’s reactions to the Holocaust. (Amber McDonald)
  • Eman, Diet. Things We Couldn’t Say. Grand Rapid, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994.
    Taken from both journal entries and reflections of the author, Things We Couldn’t Say tells the story of a woman involved in resistance work in Holland during Nazi occupation. The author particularly emphasizes the role that both her religion and her gender aided her in continuing her resistance efforts during the course of the war. (Amber McDonald)
  • Gurewitsch, Brana. Mothers, Sisters, Resisters: Oral Histories of Women who Survived the Holocaust. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998.
    In Mothers, Sisters, Resisters, Brana Gurewitsch gathers together powerful accounts and personal testimonies of women’s experiences during the Holocaust. Their stories preserve the special relationships formed between women and their struggle to resist and survive Nazi Germany. (Roselie Smith)
  • Harvey, Elizabeth. Women and the Nazi East: Agents and Witnesses of Germanization. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.
    Women in the Nazi East helps to explain what roles were expected of women and how they attempted to propagate these roles within conquered territories such as Poland and Czechoslovakia. This book also details how women were expected to fill these roles- the "transplanting" of native German women to conquered territories in an effort to "Germanize" the new acquisitions of the Third Reich. (Amber McDonald)
  • Ofer, Dalia and Lenore J. Weitzman. Women in the Holocaust. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.
    Women in the Holocaust is a collection of personal stories of mostly female survivors of the Holocaust. The women who tell their stories include details about what classifications qualified someone as Jewish. The sections about resistance include tips for survival and explanations of how they survived. (Vanessa Boomgaard)
  • Owings, Alison. Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1993.
    Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich is a collection of stories about women who lived in Germany during World War II. The stories vary among German Jews, German (non-Jewish) children, German resistors and German women who survived the concentration camps. (Nicole Bronstein)
  • Stibbe, Matthew. Women in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
    Women in the Third Reich is a synthesis of critical work written by recent historians focusing on the role of women under the shadows of the Third Reich. Stibbe argues that factors such as class, race, religion and marital status played a more significant part in women’s lives than gender. Chapter Six specifically focuses on women who did not support the Nazi Regime. It explains the type of opposition: how resistance was organized, opposition and non-conformity in everyday life, and how Germans helped those Jews within concentration camps. (Roselie Smith and Vanessa Boomgaard)

prepared for web by Harold Marcuse on12/7/05; last updated: 12/14/05
back to top, to Hist 33d homepage, 33d projects index page;
to Prof. Marcuse's Courses page; H. Marcuse homepage