I read this book in February of 2016, and this is what I had to say about it at the time:
This was 660 pages of intense, brutal, HORRIBLE stuff that I basically read in probably 8 days total, if that. (It was due back to the library.) I do not recommend reading it that fast. A slow, leisurely approach would be far easier on your well-being.
Deep breath. I’m going to just cough up random thoughts that likely won’t make sense. Bear with me.
Thing that most stood out to me in the end was the sheer POINTLESSNESS of the camp as anything but a farce of some kind – a horrific, deadly farce. Sure, some of them were spies or whatever, but the majority of them were people who never deserved to be in prison in the first place, for any reason. They just had the misfortune to be Jehovah’s Witnesses or Jews or… just… female.
The fact that this camp has been so little talked about is an absolute tragedy. Quote: “Ravensbrück should never have had to fight ‘on the margins’ for a voice: it was—and is—a story in its own right.”
There was one part of the book that was honestly so awful I have already blocked it out and I can’t remember what it even was. But the part that most makes me cringe and shudder now is the forced abortions and outright murder of ALREADY BORN BABIES. It’s like, obviously these babies didn’t stand a chance of surviving anyway, but THAT IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR CRUELTY. Having birthed two precious little ones myself, I know the raw emotion of holding that warm little wriggling helpless thing for the first time, and the idea that anyone – ANYONE – could be so calloused, so devoid of human sympathy as to snatch it from its mother (who, starved prisoner or not, is still going to be at least a LITTLE high from birth hormones) and DUNK IT HEADFIRST IN COLD WATER AND DELIBERATELY DROWN IT or any of the other horrible things they did. Those poor women, I don’t even want to think about the emotional trauma that would be. I don’t think I would EVER be able to cope with experiencing that.
The fact that as many women survived as did is really nothing short of remarkable.
So, basically, this is a book that I think should be widely read. It’s terribly hard to read, but it is a necessary book.
TELL THE WORLD.
Fritz Suhren (The Stinking Commander)
Róża points out the three doctors to Rose from the bus in Nuremburg who tied her down and cut chunks out of her bones – Oberhauser, Fischer, and Gebhardt:
Elizabeth Wein has a good list of links here and talks about her visit to Ravensbrück here. And of course there’s Wikipedia! And these pictures! And another article with photos! And a Pinterest board.
The DDR (East Germany) released several stamps (you can click on the picture to see it full size). The five women on the envelope on the left are Tilde Klose, Käthe Niederkirchner, Charlotte Eisenblätter, Olga Benário-Prestes, and Maria Grollmuß. (Not all in English, sorry! Google Translate is your friend! :-D)
And, finally, an aerial view of the camp: a pilot’s pinpoint. That’s all.