Ravensbrück : everyday life in a women's concentration camp, 1939-45

by Morrison, Jack G. 1937-

Format: Print Book 2000
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 3 of 3 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction D805.G3 M6143 2000
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  D805.G3 M6143 2000
Carnegie Library of McKeesport Nonfiction 940.53 M839
Location  Carnegie Library of McKeesport
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  940.53 M839
Noncirculating (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Closed Reference (Please ask for assistance) r D805.G3 M6143 2000
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Closed Reference (Please ask for assistance)
Call Number  r D805.G3 M6143 2000
Ravensbruck was a labour camp within German borders, not far from Berlin. In the beginning it was, by camp standards, a ""better"" camp, designed for indoctrination and industrial production, but by the end of the war it was just another overcrowded locus of horror complete with gas chamber. The result is a fascinating case study of how women of different nationalities and social backgrounds coped for years with lack of food and basic sanitation, illnesses, prejudices and death by carving out their own cultural life. Morrison's reconstruction of the dynamics of camp life presents a vivid picture for today's readers, highlighting the experiences of many individuals, such as the story of one of Ravensbruck's first inmates, an upper-class woman who arrived in her own car and soon found herself standing completely naked in a group of women for seven hours to undergo a humiliating medical examination in front of laughing SS officers. But the women developed all kinds of survival skills, many of which stand as a monument to the human spirit. Bonds of friendship and the creation of ""camp families"" helped alleviate the miseries of camp routine, as did a highly sophisticated educational system developed by Polish inmates. Women artists from several countries provided a further cultural dimension from crafts to poetry, theatre, music and drawings. As the war progressed, camp life deteriorated. More and more victims were concentrated in Ravensbruck, and the Nazis installed a gas chamber. About 140,000 Ravensbruck inmates did not survive the war. In 1945 life in Ravensbruck came to an abrupt end with a dramatic and macabre death march, in which many inmates perished and Nazis, clad as inmates, tried to escape the Russian troops.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "In May 1939 the Ravensbruck concentration camp for women was founded in Germany. Designed to hold 15,000 prisoners, it eventually housed more than 42,000 women from 23 countries. Morrison, a history professor and an archivist, helped to reorganize Ravensbruck's files in 1994 and spent two years (1997 and 1998) there as a visiting scholar. He also interviewed many survivors. The book is a study of the social dynamics of the prisoners, their relationships with each other, and--to a lesser extent--with their SS masters. Morrison focuses on such topics as the inmates' trauma of processing, camp routine and the female overseers, friendships, cultural and educational activities, and slave labor. Morrison also discusses the 70 subcamps of Ravensbruck, the system used to punish inmates, medical experiments on the prisoners, diseases, and the camp's children. The book includes photographs of prisoners at various workshops. They were taken by the SS in 1940 and 1941 and were intended to give a misleading impression of life in the camp. It also includes 50 drawings by inmates. --George Cohen"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "A comprehensive history of the only concentration camp entirely for women, this book tells the story of Ravensbrck from the moment when the first 867 women were transported to the camp in 1939 until the moment when most of the remaining inhabitants were forcibly marched away from it in 1945. Morrison, a professor of history at Shippensburg University, spent two years meticulously conducting research at (and helping to organize) the archives at the former concentration camp. Since the Nazis destroyed most of the camp's records, he relies heavily on memoirs and interviews to provide a comprehensive picture of the administrative hierarchy and the prisoners' daily lives. Ravensbrck, he explains, was a labor camp rather than an extermination camp--still, tens of thousands of women died there due to the harsh conditions and the brutal treatment. He notes that although the inmates were divided into groups (designated by differently colored triangles) depending on their status as political prisoners, criminals, prostitutes, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses or Jews, they worked together to better their chances of survival, by sharing food, assisting ill women and "adopting" the younger prisoners. Most important, Morrison takes issue with Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners, arguing that most of the German townspeople near the camp did not know much about it and that many of those who did treated the inmates with kindness. In contrast to survivor accounts such as GeneviŠve de Gaulle Anthonioz's The Dawn of Hope: A Memoir of Ravensbrck, Morrison's study has a detached, scholarly feeling that contrasts with the drama of what he relates. Photos and drawings by former Ravensbrck inmates. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Ravensbrück (Concentration camp)
World War, 1939-1945 -- Prisoners and prisons, German.
Women prisoners -- Germany.
Publisher Princeton, NJ :Markus Wiener,2000
Language English
Description xiv, 367 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 345-358) and index.
ISBN 1558762183 (alk. paper)
1558762191 (pbk. : alk. paper)
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