What Do Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Contribute to the Understanding of the Holocaust

TitleWhat Do Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Contribute to the Understanding of the Holocaust
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBergen, Doris L.
EditorGoldenberg, Myrna, and Amy H. Shapiro
Book TitleDifferent Horrors, Same Hell: Gender and the Holocaust
Pagination16-36
PublisherUniversity of Washington Press
City, CountrySeattle
Abstract

What do studies of women, gender, and sexuality contribute to an understanding of the Holocaust? The short answer is “a lot.” A focus on women, gender, and sexuality shifts the terms of analysis from individual motivations to social relations. It complicates familiar and outworn categories and humanizes the past in powerful ways. It can also help to answer some persistent questions about the perpetrators, witnesses, and victims of the Shoah. What drove the perpetrators to act as they did? What was the relationship between Jews and their gentile neighbors? How does the integration of Jewish sources challenge master narratives of the Holocaust? The answers to these questions are both obvious and elusive. Like much everyday history in general, studies of women, gender, and sexuality frequently generate insights that at first glance might appear small or even insignificant. Sometimes the most profound insights evoke the response, “I knew that all along.”

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