World War II

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Johanna Spector

Johanna Spector was an influential ethnomusicologist whose writings, recordings, and film projects documented the music of little-studied Jewish communities from around the world. After surviving the Holocaust, Spector earned her doctorate, founded the ethnomusicology department at the Jewish Theological Seminary, established the Society for the Preservation of Samaritan Culture, and served as president of the Asian Music Society. 

Anna Sokolow

Anna Sokolow (1910-2000), an American dancer and choreographer of Russian-Jewish descent, danced with the early Martha Graham Company and created many international dance-theater works of social and political significance.

Ruth Rubin

Ruth Rubin devoted a lifetime to the collection and preservation of Yiddish folklore in poetics and songs. Her writings include books, articles and music collections. As a popular performer-folklorist, she would describe the background of her selections and then sing them in a simple, unaccompanied style.

Anna Rosenberg

Anna Lederer Rosenberg was an administrator, diplomat, and public relations and manpower expert who advised multiple presidents. In 1950 she became the first female Assistant Secretary of Defense. Deeply admired by military and government leaders, Rosenberg’s success demonstrates how deftly she maneuvered within these male-dominated arenas.

Vladka Meed

Vladka Meed was an underground courier who smuggled weapons to the Jewish Fighting Organization inside the Warsaw Ghetto while passing as a Christian outside its walls. In 1948 she published a memoir about her experiences, On Both Sides of the Wall. Meed received many awards for her work in Holocaust education and memorialization.

Lenore Guinzburg Marshall

Lenore Guinzburg Marshall, novelist, poet, activist, and literary editor, pushed her publishing company to publish William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury after it had been rejected by twelve other publishers. She published her first novel, Only the Fear, in 1935 and her first poetry collection, No Boundary, in 1943, going on to write poetry, novels, short stories, essays, and a memoir.

Holocaust Survivors: Rescue and Resettlement in the United States

They had made it through World War II and now they were coming to America, 140,000 strong. The women, along with the men, had survived the rigors of the ghettos, the horrors of the concentration camps, the final agony of the death marches. They had been in hiding, or fighting with the partisans. They had escaped to the Soviet Union, some to Shanghai. And even after the war, they had been penned into displaced persons camps, in a holding pattern, waiting for a place to live, determined to get out of Europe. Now America was finally opening its doors, the doors that had been so tightly guarded during the war and, before, in the 1930s. And the American Jewish community was about to shoulder a responsibility that would sorely test its resources, commitment, and understanding.

Anna Braude Heller

Dr. Anna Braude Heller was born on January 6, 1888 in Warsaw to Aryeh Leib Broddo of Grodno and Tauba Litwin of Bialystok. She was the oldest of four daughters. Her father was a well-to-do merchant, and her mother assisted him. Heller was raised in an open, traditional household. Her father was religiously observant but very liberal in his outlook. The parents spoke Yiddish between themselves and Polish with their children. Heller was an excellent student, highly independent in her opinions, with special sensitivity to the needs of others.

Lillian Hellman

Controversial both during and after her life, Lillian Hellman was one of the leading women of letters of mid-century America and a pioneer woman playwright. Hellman displayed courage not only in writing powerful plays like The Children’s Hour but also in her public refusal to name colleagues to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Lillian Herstein

The history of Jewish women in the American labor movement tends to focus on those whose careers unfolded in the needle trades. Such was not the case with Lillian Herstein, who was a teacher and a nationally known labor leader. Ethel Lillian Herstein, the youngest of six children, was born on April 12, 1886, in Chicago. Her parents, Wolf and Cipe Belle, emigrated from Vilkovishk, Lithuania, shortly after the U.S. Civil War, not only for economic reasons but because of Wolf’s admiration for Abraham Lincoln and his ideals.

Dame Myra Hess

One of the most potent symbols representing the spirit of war-torn Britain during World War II must be the series of concerts at London’s National Gallery which continued throughout the war. Within a month of hostilities being declared, the National Gallery was closed and its paintings safely stored outside the capital. Cinemas, theaters and concert halls were all dark; Myra Hess, by then an established concert pianist, was concerned about the effect of this cultural blackout on the lives of Londoners. Towards the end of September 1939, she approached the Director of the Gallery, Kenneth Clark, with the idea of mounting lunchtime classical concerts. Clark shared her concerns and swiftly obtained government approval for the scheme. On Tuesday, October 10, the first lunchtime concert was staged; a resounding success, it was the first of an uninterrupted succession that continued for six and a half years until April 10, 1946, 1,698 concerts later.

Haganah

Although there has been much academic interest in assorted aspects of the history of the Haganah, the subject of women in that organization has not yet merited an in-depth study, despite the considerable contribution of women in the Haganah during the struggle to establish the State of Israel. The present article is based on interviews conducted with some thirty women from various sectors of the population, who were active in the Haganah. The overall treatment of the various orientations among the women stems, among other things, from the information that emerged from these interviews.

Hanna Zemer

Many years later, when Zemer reached the height of her career as editor of the newspaper Davar and as a leading journalist in Israel, she wrote a book about her travels in the Jewish world entitled God Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, which contained a rare account of her return visit to the Ravensbruck concentration camp where she was imprisoned during the final months of World War II.

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

American ORT was founded as a males-only organization in 1922. Women’s American ORT (WAO) was founded October 12, 1927, to assist ORT in providing financial support to the ORT program serving Eastern European Jews.

Women in the Holocaust

While women’s experiences during the Holocaust were not entirely different from those of men, it would be false and misleading to assert that they were identical. There were many instances in which an individual’s ordeal was shaped by his or her gender and it is only by understanding what was unique to women—and what was unique to men—that we can provide a complete account of what occurred.

Nelly Wolffheim

Psychoanalytic pedagogue Nelly Wolffheim trained kindergarten teachers, utilizing her own teaching methodologies that reflected Freudian understanding of child development.

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, born in Paris on January 10, 1948, is undoubtedly the best-known of French historians of the Holocaust born after World War II.

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

A brilliant French journalist and a lifelong champion of European union and women’s rights, Louise Weiss was an influential voice in French and international affairs from the 1920s until her death in 1983.

Charlotte Wardi

Charlotte Wardi, professor of French and comparative literature at the University of Haifa—and for a time general inspector of French-language instruction in Israel—was born in Cologne on September 21, 1928 and brought to France at the age of five months.

Dora Wasserman

Dora Wasserman’s love of Yiddish theater accompanied her from the Soviet Union where she was born in 1919, to Montreal, Canada where she lived from 1950 until her death on December 15, 2003.

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