From Publishers Weekly
A comprehensive history of the only concentration camp entirely for women, this book tells the story of Ravensbr?ck from the moment when the first 867 women were transported to the camp in 1939 until the moment when most of the remaining inhabitants were forcibly marched away from it in 1945. Morrison, a professor of history at Shippensburg University, spent two years meticulously conducting research at (and helping to organize) the archives at the former concentration camp. Since the Nazis destroyed most of the camp's records, he relies heavily on memoirs and interviews to provide a comprehensive picture of the administrative hierarchy and the prisoners' daily lives. Ravensbr?ck, he explains, was a labor camp rather than an extermination camp--still, tens of thousands of women died there due to the harsh conditions and the brutal treatment. He notes that although the inmates were divided into groups (designated by differently colored triangles) depending on their status as political prisoners, criminals, prostitutes, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses or Jews, they worked together to better their chances of survival, by sharing food, assisting ill women and "adopting" the younger prisoners. Most important, Morrison takes issue with Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners, arguing that most of the German townspeople near the camp did not know much about it and that many of those who did treated the inmates with kindness. In contrast to survivor accounts such as Genevi?ve de Gaulle Anthonioz's The Dawn of Hope: A Memoir of Ravensbr?ck, Morrison's study has a detached, scholarly feeling that contrasts with the drama of what he relates. Photos and drawings by former Ravensbr?ck inmates. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In May 1939 the Ravensbruck concentration camp for women was founded in Germany. Designed to hold 15,000 prisoners, it eventually housed more than 42,000 women from 23 countries. Morrison, a history professor and an archivist, helped to reorganize Ravensbruck's files in 1994 and spent two years (1997 and 1998) there as a visiting scholar. He also interviewed many survivors. The book is a study of the social dynamics of the prisoners, their relationships with each other, and--to a lesser extent--with their SS masters. Morrison focuses on such topics as the inmates' trauma of processing, camp routine and the female overseers, friendships, cultural and educational activities, and slave labor. Morrison also discusses the 70 subcamps of Ravensbruck, the system used to punish inmates, medical experiments on the prisoners, diseases, and the camp's children. The book includes photographs of prisoners at various workshops. They were taken by the SS in 1940 and 1941 and were intended to give a misleading impression of life in the camp. It also includes 50 drawings by inmates. George Cohen