World War II

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Ottilie Schönewald

Deeply involved in several women’s and Jewish organizations, Ottilie Schönewald was an activist who became a politician to advance her causes. She worked with the League of Jewish Women and helped Jews emigrate from Nazi Germany. After Schönewald and her family fled in 1939, she continued her social work during and after the war.

Martha Schlamme

Martha Schlamme was an internationally known singer who rose to prominence after the Second World War due to her phenomenally large repertoire and ability to sing in multiple languages.  Schlamme studied piano in Austria before the war and had a successful post-war career in England, singing on BBC radio, before immigrating to the United States and singing in nightclubs and concert halls across the country.

Dorothy Schiff

Dorothy Schiff led many lives, from debutante to social reformer, but she is best remembered as the publisher of the New York Post, the first woman to run a New York newspaper. Her publishing philosophy was simple: The Post must avoid “narrow-mindedness, prejudice, and all the things it is the business of liberals to fight.”

Miriam Schapiro

Miriam Schapiro helped pioneer the feminist art movement, both through her own pushing of creative boundaries and by creating opportunities for other women artists. Starting in 1970, Schapiro raised women’s consciousness through her writing, painting, printmaking, teaching and sculpture. She lectured extensively on feminist issues to professional conferences, university audiences, art classes and women’s groups.

Rosa Schapire

Rosa Schapire was one of the few women to pursue art history studies at a time when the discipline itself was still in its infancy. Her foray into this male-dominated profession was indicative of her allegiance to feminist aspirations to equal opportunity and adult suffrage.

Alice Schalek

Alice Schalek first entered the public sphere at the turn of the century as the author of a well-received novel, published under the male pseudonym Paul Michaely. The first woman in Austria to become a career photojournalist and travel writer, and the first and only female member of the Austrian Kriegspressedienst (war information unit) during World War I, Schalek paved the way for careers in both photography and journalism for other women.

Margherita Sarfatti

Born into a wealthy Venetian Jewish family, Margherita Sarfatti joined the Socialist Party and became the art critic for the newspaper Avanti!, where she met Benito Mussolini. The two became lovers, and she followed Mussolini into the Fascist movement and helped plan the rise of the Fascists, only abandoning his cause when Mussolini embraced antisemitism in 1938.

Bouena Sarfatty Garfinkle

Bouena Sarfatty Garfinkle, a Sephardi woman, risked her life over and over again to aid to her community during World War II. At a later stage in her life, Bouena’s historical-literary acumen enabled her to record Jewish life in Salonika during the twentieth century, including the devastation to her community at the hands of the Nazis.

Nathalie Sarraute

Writer and lawyer Nathalie Sarraute was an innovative figure in post-World War II French literature. No longer allowed to practice law during the German occupation of France, she posed as the governess of her three daughters to hide her Jewish identity. Sarraute’s many novels and plays are characterized by an “inwardness” and an unusual lack of characters, names, and plot.

Angiola Sartorio

Angiola Sartorio was a prolific dancer, teacher, and choreographer who subverted fascism in her artistic choices. Sartorio had a company and school, and her company was widely well-received in Italy until it performed for Hitler in Vienna and she had to flee to the United States.

Charlotte Salomon

Charlotte Salomon was an artist who created work depicting her family narrative before many of her family members died in the Holocaust. Her work was found after the war by relatives and donated to the Jewish Historical Museum there in Amsterdam. Salomon held great graphic power and recorded history and truth in her art.

Nelly Leonie Sachs

In 1966 Nelly Sachs became the first German woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. After Sachs fled Berlin in 1940, her thirty-year exile in Sweden proved fertile ground for her poetry. She was motivated as a writer by her deep desire to bear witness to the victims of the Holocaust.

Ida Rubinstein

From an early age Ida Rubinstein studied dance and provoked scandal by pushing the boundaries of sexuality and respectability. Although she was a controversial figure, her prolific career in French ballet and as a patron of French music make her a significant pioneer of the early twentieth-century French dance scene.

Anna Rozental

Anna Rozental belonged to the generation of Jewish labor activists who had already been active in the founding phase of the General Jewish Labor Bund under the Russian Empire and who were highly respected as “veterans” in the Polish Bund of the interwar period. From her youth on, Rozental’s life was closely tied to the Jewish labor movement in Vilna, where she died in Soviet custody during World War II.

Dame Miriam Rothschild

Dame Miriam Rothschild was a renowned British natural scientist who published over 300 scientific papers throughout her lifetime, making groundbreaking contributions to the fields of entomology, zoology, marine biology, and wildlife conservationism. In 1985 she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society and credited for her work in the histology, morphology, and taxonomy of fleas.

Bethsabée Rothschild

Bethsabée (Hebrew: Batsheva) de Rothschild, the scion of a well-known philanthropic family, helped support numerous activities in the United States and Israel, especially dance, music, and science.She created the Batsheva and Bat-Dor dance companies and was awarded the Israel Prize in 1989 for her special contribution to Israeli society.

Romania, Women and Jewish Education

Since the adoption of a public school system in the mid-1800s in Romania, Jewish women in Romania women have had to fight anti-Semitism and sexism to pursue their education.

Romanian Yiddish Theater

Romania was a wellspring of the Yiddish theater, as there were Jewish theater troupes in the major Romanian cities and acting troupes traveled throughout the country performing dramas, comedies, musicals, and operettas. Women played a significant role in performing and shaping Romanian Yiddish theater and became known internationally for their work on the Yiddish stage.

Resistance, Jewish Organizations in France: 1940-1944

Despite the fact that women did not hold a high status in prewar French society, Jewish women played a disproportionately large role in the French resistance against the Nazis. Hundreds of women protected their fellow Jews, especially Jewish children, from the Nazis.

Havivah Reik

Havivah Reik was a Palmah soldier and parachutist who was killed by Nazi collaborators on a secret mission to save thousands of Slovakian Jews.

Ravensbruck Women's Concentration Camp

Created to incarcerate women and serve as a “model” concentration camp, Ravensbrück imprisoned about 132,000 women and children between 1939 and 1945, committing them to slave labor and miserable conditions. In addition to thousands of political prisoners, criminals, Jehovah’s witnesses, and those deemed “asocial,” about 20 percent of the camp’s prisoners were Jewish.

Antonietta Raphaël

Painting and sculptor Antonietta Raphaël rose to fame in the 1950s. Her paintings were seen for the first time in Rome in 1929; during World War II, she took up sculpting, and in the 1950s, she rose to prominence and exhibited her works worldwide.

Erna Proskauer

Erna Proskauer dreamed of becoming a judge in Germany but lost her job in 1933 and emigrated first to France and then to Palestine. After returning to Germany, Erna faced several setbacks in her quest to return to her career as a lawyer but ultimately opened her own firm. At the age of sixty-five, she took over her former husband’s law office and continued working for another twenty years.

Zosha Posnanska

A left-wing political activist and Soviet intelligence recruit, Zosha Posnanska was a fearless fighter against the Nazis and for a peaceful world.

Olga Benário Prestes

A Communist activist before and during World War II, Olga Benário Prestes’ political activities led her to the highest ranks of the Communist Youth International. Her relationship with Brazilian Communist leader Luis Carlos Prestes, who was part of a failed coup, led to her deportation to Germany, where she was gassed at Bernburg in 1942. Although her name is not well known in the United States, Olga is famous in Brazil and was considered a great heroine in the German Democratic Republic.


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