World War II

Content type

Nettie Sutro-Katzenstein

Dr. Nettie Sutro-Katzenstein founded SHEK (Schweizer Hilfswerk fur Emigrantenkinder), a non-denominational Swiss women’s organization for helping refugee children, in 1933. An effective and dynamic leader, Sutro-Katzenstein directed SHEK headquarters and recruited volunteers, gaining the support of the Swiss public. Between 1933 and 1948, SHEK cared for over 10,000 refugee children, 90% of whom were Jewish.

Margarete Susman

Margarete Susman published her first writings, a book of poetry, in 1901 and went on to have a prolific writing career that included plays, books, and journal articles. Susman combined literature and theory, often reflecting seminal texts of modern theory and addressing political issues and women’s rights. Her writings concentrate on the most problematic issues of the modern world: God and human beings, man and woman, Jew and Christian.

Suburbanization in the United States

Jews migrated in large numbers to newly constructed suburbs after World War II and the end of restrictive covenants that had excluded them. During the day, suburbs were largely female spaces where married Jewish women cared for their children and private homes, while volunteering for Jewish and civic activities. Jewish daughters raised in suburbs enjoyed middle-class comforts but also experienced pressures to conform to American gentile ideals of beauty.

Eva Michaelis Stern

Eva Michaelis Stern was co-founder and director of the fundraising arm of the Youth Aliyah in Germany, and later the director of the Youth Aliyah office in London. Over the course of WWII, she helped more than 1000 children from countries all over Europe immigrate to Palestine.

Grete Stern

Grete Stern was one of the founders of Argentina’s modern photography. After studying photography in bohemian Berlin and at the legendary Bauhaus School, Stern developed an unconventional approach to photography, including advertisement collages and studies with crystals, objects, and still-lifes. Between 1935 and 1981 Stern was an influential artistic presence in Argentina, known for her photographic work, graphic design, and teaching.  

Lina Solomonovna Stern (Shtern)

Lina Shtern, biochemist and physician, was the first woman professor at the University of Geneva and the first woman named to the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Born in Latvia, then part of the Russian Empire, she returned to the Soviet Union out of political idealism. A member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee during World War II, she was a victim of postwar repressions that targeted both scientists and Jews.

Hannah Stein

Hannah Stein’s life was devoted to advocating for the rights of disadvantaged women and their children. She served for 14 years as the executive director of the National Council of Jewish Women and worked in cooperation with other advocacy groups such as the National Council of Negro Women and the United Church Women to establish the Women in Community Service (WICS) coalition.

Mollie Steimer

Mollie Steimer earned nationwide attention for her refusal to compromise her anarchist beliefs during the widely publicized 1918 trial in which she was sentenced to prison under the Sedition Act. Later deported to Russia and then to Germany, Steimer continued her anarchist activities throughout her life.

Sports in Germany: 1898-1938

Women’s participation in Jewish gymnastics clubs increased significantly during the first two decades of the twentieth century. The Jewish sports movement grew during the 1920s, allowing women to participate in cross-country running, swimming, and tennis. After German sports clubs annulled Jewish membership in 1933, women poured into these Jewish sports groups.

Dora Spiegel

Dora Spiegel served in many fields, including education, the organization of league sisterhoods, and publications stimulating women’s loyalty to the synagogue and the Jewish home. She helped found the Women’s Institute of Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, influencing the lives of countless Jewish women and children.

Eva Sopher

Eva Sopher was a Brazilian-Jewish theater manager and cultural entrepreneur in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, where she worked for 41 years. Sopher is recognized for her leadership in the renovation of the world-renowned São Pedro Theatre and her contributions to Brazilian theater, art, and culture.

Cecila Slepak

Cecilia Slepak, a journalist and translator, was a member of the Oneg Shabbat group, which was vital in collecting records and interviews about life in the Warsaw Ghetto. She focused in particular on the lives of women in the ghetto as they struggled to survive.

Simone Simon

Simone Simon was a prolific international film star, known for her iconic appearance and voice. Simon spent her childhood in Marseilles and Madagascar and attended schools in Berlin, Budapest, and Turin before making her film debut in 1931. She became popular in France and Hollywood for her mysterious, vulnerable, and seductive acting style, and made over thirty-eight feature films in her career. 

Simone Signoret

Simone Signoret's five-decade career of more than sixty films, her Leftist politics, and her unassailable talent in creating not only memorable but iconic female heroes at every stage of her career, give her an important place in twentieth-century cultural history.

Rebecca Sieff

Rebecca Sieff, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish family from Manchester, England, played an active role in two central social-historical movements: the struggle for women’s rights and the Zionist movement that eventually led to the establishment of the State of Israel.

Lillie Shultz

Lillie Shultz poured her boundless energy into all aspects of her life. She was a journalist, a Zionist, a champion of the oppressed, a skilled administrator, and a businesswoman.

Rose Shoshana

Rose Shoshana began her acting career in the Yiddish theater world, playing Manke in Got fun Nekome in 1908. She went on to perform across Europe, America, and Asia. When she arrived in New York in 1946, she began a career as a novelist, writer, translator, and journalist at the Forverts.

Sarah Shner-Nishmit

Polish author and historian Sarah Shner-Nishmit traveled constantly to evade capture during World War II, working at a labor camp and joining a partisan group. Shner made aliyah in 1947 and subsequently began her writing career, which included children’s books and historical research. She also helped found Kibbutz Lohamei ha-Getta’ot, where she lived until her death.

Dinah Shore

Dinah Shore, the quintessential American girl, was both America’s sweetheart in the 1940s and 1950s and a leading example of an independent woman in the 1970s. Her career as a singer and actress spanned over forty years and included stints on the radio and in the movies. Shore won nine Emmys, a Peabody, and a Golden Globe.

She'erit ha-Peletah: Women in DP Camps in Germany

Family played an important role in the lives of Holocaust survivors in DP (displaced persons) camps – in 1947, the birth rate in DP camps was one of the highest in the world. Women served as teachers and eager students, and they were active in the effort to open immigration to Palestine.

Alice Hildegard Shalvi

Israel Prize Laureate Professor Alice Shalvi is a leading Israeli feminist activist and scholar. Founder of the Israel Women’s Network and the Ben Gurion University English Department and longtime principal of the iconic religious feminist high school Pelech, Professor Shalvi has been instrumental in advancing gender issues in Israeli education, society and politics.

Ada Ascarelli Sereni

Ada Ascarelli Sereni helped thousands of Jews emigrate to Palestine during and after World War II following the death of her husband, a Jewish volunteer for the British army who parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe.

Toni Sender

Toni Sender’s wide-ranging quest to save the world led her from the union hall to the German Parliament (as a socialist) and finally to the United Nations. She helped found Germany’s Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) and served in the German Parliament from 1924 to 1933. After fleeing to the United States in 1933, she joined the board of the German American Council for the Liberation of Germany from Nazism, and after 1944 she became active with the UN, retiring in 1956.

Anna Seghers

Anna Seghers is considered one of the most important German women writers of the twentieth century. Her many novels and stories written during her multiple exiles, including Das siebte Kreuz (1942) adapted into the Hollywood film “The Seventh Cross,” reflect her strong socialist and anti-fascist beliefs, and she remains controversially linked to her later involvement with the East German government.

Hela Rufeisen Schüpper

Born to a hasidic family in Krakow, Hela Rufeisen Schüpper joined the Zionist youth movement Akiva against her family’s wishes. When the Germans invaded Poland, Schüpper joined the Jewish resistance against the Nazis, becoming a key courier. She survived Bergen-Belsen and moved to Israel after the war.


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