"I saw unbelievable things" - educational conference on the 80th anniversary of the deportation of women to KL Auschwitz
To mark this year's 80th anniversary of the deportation of the first women to Auschwitz, the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust (ICEAH) invites you to an educational conference dedicated to the fate of women during World War II with emphasis on the German Nazi concentration camps.
The conference will take place online on March 24 and with simultaneous translation into English, Russian, Ukrainian, and, for the first time in the history of the Museum, in Polish Sign Language.
'Restoring the memory of those who perished and drawing on the testimony of those who survived is the best way to combat the mechanisms that led to the crimes. To this end, exploring the experience of women is crucial. Their voice should reverberate clearly. Not as an opposition to the male voice, but as another perspective on this extremely complicated history,' said Anna Stańczyk, conference coordinator at the ICEAH.
16.00-16.10 | Conference inauguration
Andrzej Kacorzyk - Director of the ICEAH
16.10-17.25 | The fate of women during World War II - panel discussion
Zoë Waxman, University of Oxford
Irina Shcherbakova, Memorial Association
Monika Rudaś-Grodzka, Polish Academy of Sciences
Moderator: Nataliia Tkachenko, ICEAH
17.25-17.45 | Break
17.45-19.00 | The fate of women in German Nazi concentration camps - panel discussion
Marta Grudzińska, State Museum at Majdanek
Agnieszka Kłys, Stutthof Museum
Teresa Wontor-Cichy, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
Adelina Hetnar-Michaldo, ICEAH
19.00-19.10 | Break
19.10-19.55 | Discussion with Auschwitz survivor Anita Lasker-Wallfisch
19.55 - 20.00 - closing of the conference
The event will take place on the Zoom platform. Registered persons will receive a link to the event. The registration forms are available below:
Participation in the conference is free of charge.
If you have any further questions, please contact the conference coordinators: Anna Stańczyk () or Katarzyna Kotula-Domagała ()
The women's camp at Auschwitz was established in March 1942. In the nearly three years of its operation - first in Auschwitz I, and from August 1942 in Auschwitz II-Birkenau - about 131,000 women prisoners passed through it - mostly Jews from various countries occupied by Germany, as well as Poles, Roma and Sinti, and women from several other countries.
Women of all social classes and ages were sent to the camp. For them, the encounter with the camp reality was an extreme experience. "I saw unbelievable things" - these words were uttered by Auschwitz and Holocaust survivor Eugenia Adler in one of her post-war accounts describing her life in the camp. Tens of thousands of testimonies from survivors describe their camp experience in a similar way.
With the development of the extermination policy, Auschwitz also became the last stop for the hundreds of thousands of Jewish women sent to the gas chambers. During the selections carried out on the ramp by SS doctors, only the young and strong stood a chance of being registered in the camp. Many of them, unwilling to be separated from their children, unknowingly condemned themselves to death.
"After exiting the train cars, we were separated from the men and from that point on, I never saw my husband again. As we walked along the carriages, they asked us how old we were and whether we wanted to go in the lorries that stood nearby or walk. I gave my age 10 years less and said I wished to walk. Many of the women, including those with children, agreed to ride in the car, and I never saw them again. […]"
(Excerpt from an account by Auschwitz survivor, French Jewish woman Helena Freud (née Weissenstein), no. 46597, deported to the camp in June 1943 from the transit camp in Drancy)