World War II

Content type

Hanna Zemer

In 1970 Hanna Zemer was chosen as the Israeli newspaper Davar’s editor-in-chief, the highest position held by a woman in Israeli media and politics at the time. Throughout her career she won prizes and praise for her journalism and leadership.

Teresa Żarnower (Żarnoweröwna)

One of the most important artistic personalities of the Polish constructivist avant-garde in the 1920s, Teresa Żarnower founded the first Polish constructivist artistic group, “Blok,” and also edited the magazine of the same title. While pioneering the field of avant-garde art, she was also actively involved in left-wing politics, designing election posters and two-party leaflets.

Women's American ORT

Five years after the American chapter of the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training (ORT) was founded in 1922, a women’s auxiliary group (WAO) was created. WAO aided displaced Europeans and focused on creating vocational schools across the world. In the later twentieth century, WAO expanded to help create medical services for students and provide recreational facilities, among other programs.

Women in the Holocaust

During the Holocaust, many women’s experiences were shaped by their gender. Pre-war roles and responsibilities, anticipatory reactions to Nazi actions, German policy and treatment of men and women, and the responses of Jewish men and women to Nazi persecution all affected women’s ordeals.

Nelly Wolffheim

Nelly Wolffheim spent her career developing and teaching a kindergarten curriculum based around Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic framework. She taught this curriculum, which encouraged children to express their sexual desires, to Jewish women teachers in Berlin. After escaping Germany for England in 1939, Wolffheim struggled to continue her research but began publishing her work again after the war.

Charlotte Wolff

A pioneering German-Jewish lesbian and feminist physician, Charlotte Wolff became interested in sexology, psychotherapy, and chirology while working as a physician in Berlin’s working-class neighborhoods. Soon after the Nazis came to power she fled to France and then to England, where she began researching and writing books on chirology. In the 1960s she turned her research to homosexuality and published a landmark study on lesbianism.

Jeanette Wolff

A well-known Social Democrat and Holocaust survivor committed to equal rights for women and sustained Jewish existence in Germany, Jeanette Wolff refused to compromise her socio-political beliefs. She was active in the SPD both before and after the war and served on the denazification committee in post-war Berlin .

Marguerite Wolff

Though she never received a formal education, London-born Marguerite Wolff was a member of Berlin’s intelligentsia in the early 20th century. Between 1925 and 1933 she served as unofficial co-director and later as a research scholar at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Foreign Public Law and International Law.

Annette Wieviorka

Annette Wieviorka (b. 1948) is a major French historian of the Holocaust. Her work highlights the specificity of the Shoah in the context of Nazi and Vichy crime generally.

Ruth Werner

Operating under at least five different names in the course of her career, Ruth Werner (a pen name) was a singularly accomplished spy, whose espionage activities spanned some fifteen years, from 1931 to 1946. Twice awarded the order of the Red Banner, the highest Soviet military decoration, Werner also held the rank of colonel in the Red Army.

Louise Weiss

Considered an architect of European unity, Louise Weiss is best known for her campaigns on behalf of the peaceful resolution of international conflicts during the interwar years and the Cold War. She also worked on behalf of Jewish refugee rights in the late 1930s and was a leading feminist activist who focused on obtaining the right for French women to vote.

Dora Wasserman

Dora Wasserman created a place for Yiddish theater in Canada by founding a theater and adapting great works of Yiddish literature for the stage. After World War Two, Wasserman immigrated from the Soviet Union to Montreal, formed the Yiddish Drama Group, and produced plays and musicals. She was the first to demonstrate that a theater of diversity could survive and flourish in Canada, and she did so with an all-consuming selfless dedication to her art.

Charlotte Wardi

Charlotte Wardi (1928-2018) was one of the first significant scholars of the representation of the Jews and the Holocaust in French and other fiction. A young survivor of Auschwitz who grew up and was educated in France, she taught for three decades at the University of Haifa and continued to be active in her retirement.

Walldorf Camp: Hungarian Jewish Women (August-November 1944)

In addition to the large, well-known concentration camps, hundreds of small labor camps existed during the Second World War, among them the Walldorf Camp at the Frankfurt airport in Germany. On August 19 and 20, 1944, 1,700 Hungarian women between 14 and 44 years of age were selected and taken to Frankfurt to build the first concrete runway for the Messerschmidt 262 jet plane.

Liudmila Ulitskaia

Liudmila Ulitskaia is one of Russia’s most famous and celebrated modern writers, known for her voice of moral authority and dissidence against a politically repressive Russian state. Her contemporary realist prose and fiction combines traditional plot and narrative techniques with candid treatment of conventionally taboo subjects such as sexuality, politics, and disease.

Turkey: Ottoman and Post Ottoman

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, far-reaching changes took place in the Ottoman Empire in the political, social and geopolitical spheres.

Zelda Nisanilevich Treger

Zelda Treger was born in Vilna, Lithuania, which was occupied by the Germans beginning in June 1941. Treger soon joined the United Partisan Organization (FPO) and was tasked with smuggling groups of residents and supplies out of the ghetto and labor camp. Escaping capture several times, she aided in the liberation of Vilna and ultimately settled in Tel Aviv, where she remained until her death.

Jennie Tourel

Opera singer Jennie Tourel’s subtle and expressive performances made each song she sang into a miniature tone drama that she shaped as closely as possible to the composer’s intention.

Nechama Tec

Nechama Tec's sociological work, informed by her experience as a Holocaust survivor, addresses the silences and inaccuracies surrounding the Holocaust and reveals untold stories of righteousness and rescue. Her experiences inspired the movie Defiance.

Olga Taussky-Todd

A self-proclaimed “torchbearer for matrix theory,” Olga Taussky-Todd made the previously little-known field essential for scientists and mathematicians.

Sara Szweber

Sara Szweber was an influential leader in the Jewish labor party, the Bund, first in Belarus, then in Poland, and later in New York.

Bela Szapiro

Before World War II, Lublin was one of the largest Jewish communities in Poland. Bela Szapiro’s activities contributed to making it the vibrant cultural and political center of Polish Jewry that it was.

Eva Szekely

Born in Budapest, Eva Szekely was forced to stop swimming during the Nazi occupation of Hungary. However, she returned to the sport after the war and went on to win thirty-two national individual swimming titles and eleven national team titles. At the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, she set a new Olympic record in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Hannah Szenes (Senesh)

Hannah Szenes has attained legendary status in the pantheon of Zionist history. After immigrating to Israel, Szenes agreed to participate in a military operation as a paratrooper. Hungarian authorities captured her and tortured her, but Szenes refused to talk. She was killed by a firing squad in 1944. Szenes mother published her daughter’s diary, poetry, and plays posthumously.

Tema Sznajderman

Tema Sznajderman was a fearless operative in the Jewish resistance to Nazism. She assumed undercover identities to investigate and transfer vital information across borderlines.


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