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New online lesson: “Women at KL Auschwitz”


"Women at KL Auschwitz" is the new online lesson of the Auschwitz Memorial. It is available in Polish and English. It was created by Wanda Witek-Malicka of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Research Center and Jadwiga Dąbrowska of the Bureau for Former Prisoners.


Online lesson...
Online lesson...
Online lesson...
Online lesson...

'The very first concentration camp for women in the Nazi Germany was set up in autumn 1933 in the city of Moringen […]. In May 1939, KL Lichtenberg became the central concentration camp for women. Afterwards female prisoners were relocated to the new concentration camp for women in Ravensbrück. Until 1942 Ravensbrück was the only concentration camp for women […]. It was necessary to establish a camp for women in Auschwitz as other camps located within the territory of the Third Reich, and the occupied countries (in particular Poland) were overcrowded, and number of prisoners of the Ravensbrück camp increased,' we read in the introduction.

'The lesson is divided into several chapters, in which the authors describe the fate of women in the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp. It begins from the creation of the female camp at Auschwitz and the arrival of the first transport of female prisoners, through the structure of the prisoner community, registration, living conditions, work, and finally mass extermination in gas chambers and selections in the camp,' said Agnieszka Juskowiak-Sawicka, head of E-learning at the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

'Then, the authors introduce the reader to the subject of escapes and punishments, physicality, illnesses, experiments, pregnancy, and childbirth, to move on to interpersonal relations, resistance, manifestations of religious and cultural life, and creative activity," she added.

The tragedy of women in the camp is presented in the lesson through many accounts of female survivors. Aerial photographs, plans, photographs taken by the SS men while Auschwitz was in operation, postwar photographs, artworks, and objects made by female prisoners in the camp give an understanding of the size of the camp itself, as well as the work and existence of female prisoners in the camp.

'The end of the war wasn't the end of the nightmare for the former female prisoners. Most of them suffered from various diseases, they contracted during the imprisonment. The treatment took sometimes months or even years. The separate issue was the nervous and emotional disorders as a result of traumatic experiences and many months or even years of living under extreme stress. The first months after the war were also dedicated to calculating the loss related to the war and to build up a new life, literally from the ruins. Many of female survivors had to face the information regarding the loss of their children, husbands and other relatives. Especially the Jewish women had usually nobody to return to. In the case of most female Auschwitz survivors, the imprisonment had a negative impact on further life. Some of them have never recovered completely their health and regained their normal life,' states the summary of the lesson.

The online lesson "Women in KL Auschwitz" is available in English and Polish.