Module 2: Gender and Sexuality

Maternal Bodies

Annette Finley-Croswhite

In this guest lecture, Dr. Annette Finley-Croswhite discusses the Nazi assault on Jewish pregnant bodies during the Holocaust. How was the Jewish mother targeted in camps and ghettos when pregnancy was prohibited by Nazi decree?

Pregnant Bodies and Obstetrical Genocide

Oral History: Ruth Foster

Oral History: Angela Orosz

Survivor Angela Orosz was born in Auschwitz. She describes her mother’s experience of being pregnant with her in Auschwitz, enduring experiments by Dr. Mengele, being encouraged to abort her pregnancy to save her own life, and finally the story of her own birth.

Oral History: Bryna Wallace

Listen to Bryna Wallace as she explains the story of her birth while her family was in hiding in forest as well as the story behind her first jacket.


Interactive Map

To learn more about Bryna’s Holocaust experience and her family history, press on the menu button on the top left of the interactive map below. You will then be able to scroll down and click on the different icons.

This interactive map was created by Nicola Woodhead, a PhD candidate in History at the Parkes Institute at the University of Southampton, UK.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How do these oral histories illustrate Annette Finley-Croswhite’s argument? Choose two examples.
  2. Both Angela Orosz and Bryna Wallace were born during the Holocaust and tell the story of their own births as told to them by their own mothers. How should we understand the relationship between survivor memory and second generation testimony in these examples?

Rabbinic Responsa: Jewish Religious Responses

Rabbinic Responsa record questions regarding Jewish law that are unprecedented.  In these harrowing examples, rabbis must respond to the fact of the Nazi genocidal assault on Jewish mothers and their children.

Reflection questions:

  1. How are Holocaust responsa like and unlike Oral Histories?
  2. The final question, “Life or Death” is asked about a man smothering a child where “an entire community of Jews sat.” We can only assume that the group included mothers, perhaps the mother of the child who was killed. Given your understanding of Holocaust responsa, why might women be absent from this question?


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