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Resilience and Courage

Resilience and Courage: Women, Men, and the Holocaust

Nechama Tec
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    Resilience and Courage
    Book Description:

    In this, Nechama Tec's fifth book on the Holocaust, vivid individual stories blend effortlessly with detailed comparisons of wartime experiences of women and men. The result is a captivating account of how the coping strategies and the ultimate fate of each sex differed.Tec, as always, listens to the voices of the oppressed, voices that originated in wartime diaries, postwar memoirs, archival materials, and her own interviews with survivors and rescuers. Concentrating on life under extreme conditions, Tec's research uncovers the previously overlooked significance of mutual cooperation and compassion that operated across gender lines.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15957-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. 1 Voices from the Past
    (pp. 1-19)

    Over the phone, the man’s voice asked, “Are you the daughter of Ester Bawnik? You must be. For a long, long time I have been thinking about your mother. What a difference her selflessness, her caring attention made in my life, in the lives of so many others!”

    What I heard took me to a different world, a ruined world, a world buried under many seemingly forgotten memories. The man identified himself as Samuel Gruber. In 1939, as a soldier in the Polish army, he had been captured by the rapidly advancing German forces. In 1941 he came with other...

  4. 2 In the Beginning
    (pp. 20-37)

    September 1939. In a suburb of Warsaw called Prague, a group of tenants finds shelter in the cellar of their building. They anxiously listen to the roar of German planes. The passage of time and the intermittent explosions only increase their apprehension. One notable exception is Shlomo Peltel, the Jewish owner of a modest haberdashery and the father of two daughters and a son. His older daughter, Vladka Meed, remembers him as a lover of books, an idealist, and a man sensitive to the suffering of others. In World War I Shlomo had met German soldiers during the occupation, and...

  5. 3 Life in the Ghetto
    (pp. 38-75)

    A mother of two little children who was married to an unemployed laborer, Mrs. F. continued her modest blackmarket operations after she moved into the Warsaw ghetto. Neither Mrs. F.’s unexpected pregnancy nor the birth of a third child interrupted her efforts to support her family.

    In the fall of 1941, the Germans introduced a law forbidding all unauthorized crossings between the ghetto and the “Aryan” sector of Warsaw. Apprehension meant death. But Mrs. F.’s husband had been incapacitated by a severe case of typhus; she had to disregard this threat.

    Even though Mrs. F.’s appearance did not betray her...

  6. 4 Leaving the Ghetto
    (pp. 76-118)

    Lidia (Itke) Brown-Abramson threw herself into the pile of straw next to the attic wall. The eleven-year-old understood why she was up there but wanted to know more about what was going on. The cracks between the wooden boards revealed several figures below them, each moving tensely. Then they were gone. Silence took over. Soon heavy smoke began pouring in from all directions. Fumes crept through the spaces in the attic walls. Breathing was becoming difficult. With a nod, Lidia’s parents agreed: they had to leave. Outside, bullets immediately found Lidia’s father and one of her sisters. Before their bodies...

  7. 5 The Concentration Camps
    (pp. 119-204)

    In 1944 a freight train with a cargo of Hungarian Jews arrived at Auschwitz in the middle of the night. None of the passengers knew where they were or why they had stopped. Some hoped that, as promised, they had come to a work camp. Cramped into a tiny corner of one of the cattle cars were a seventeen-year-old girl named Rita, her older sister, and her sister’s two children: a boy of five and a girl of ten. Rita’s sister was convinced that a woman of twenty would be considered of greater economic value to the Germans than a...

  8. 6 Hiding and Passing in the Forbidden Christian World
    (pp. 205-255)

    With the arrival of each trolley car the crowd would move forward in a huge wave, only to retreat in disappointment as the train picked up just two or three passengers. The rest remained at the stop, watching the arrival and departure of each overflowing vehicle. This seemingly endless wait, made more agonizing by the approaching curfew, must have added to the frustration of the would-be passengers, for the shoving increased. Ruth belonged to the timid minority of this contracting and expanding mass. After several tentative trials she opted for the long walk home.

    Suddenly someone grabbed my hands and...

  9. 7 Resistance
    (pp. 256-339)

    Eva Kracowski is convinced that her mother saved her life because before the impending liquidation of the Białystok ghetto, she insisted that Eva not stay with her and Eva’s younger brother. Eva is not sure whether her mother knew that she was a member of the ghetto underground, but she understood that her mother was pushing her toward life while she herself watched over her young son, ready to die with him. An upper-class teenager, a member of the ghetto Communist underground, a courier, and a forest partisan, Eva recalls her shaky journey to life: “I did not want to...

  10. 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 340-354)

    Throughout this book, I have shown the role played by my research method in leading me down paths both familiar and unexpected. As in my earlier works, my current research has concentrated on the voices of the oppressed, voices that come from a variety of sources: wartime diaries, postwar memoirs, a range of other archival materials, and, most important,direct interviews with Holocaust survivors. Singly and collectively, these sources offer vivid firsthand accounts of the victims’ personal experiences, as well as equally vivid observations about the fate of families, friends, and communities. These rich Holocaust materials have both weaknesses and...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 355-396)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 397-418)
  13. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 419-424)
  14. Index
    (pp. 425-438)