The Holocaust was not experienced in the same way by everyone

Mar 31, 2008

Jewish experiences of the Holocaust are complex. Swedish researcher Laura Palosuo from Uppsala University has studied the testimony of Hungarian survivors, and in her dissertation she shows that the way different people experienced the anti Jewish legislation and the violence in the German occupied areas is linked to gender, age and social class.

Hungary was the first country in Europe to legislate against the Jewish minority in 1920. In the late 1930s and early 1940s several anti-Jewish laws were introduced, but the deportations did not take place until after the German occupation in March 1944. Then, over half of the country's 800,000 Jews were transported in goods trains to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the majority were killed immediately after arrival.

The thesis Yellow Stars and Trouser Inspections is based on 151 interviews, reports and memoirs with and by Hungarian Jews who survived the Holocaust. Most of them came from Budapest, and belonged to the group that was not deported but that experienced the terror of the Fascist Arrow Cross party. With the aid of these accounts Laura Palosuo has analysed the way Jewish men and women of different ages and from different social strata describe the persecution and their own reactions to it, and how their experiences can be linked to gender, age and class.

The results show that the experiences were extremely complex, and that they cannot be related just to 'race'.

"A clear example of the role played by gender was the so-called trouser inspections. When a Jewish man was outdoors the authorities could easily check whether he was circumcised by simply pulling down his trousers," says Laura Palosuo.

Jewish women could move about outdoors more freely if they removed the yellow star, and since they did not have any physical markers indicating their 'Jewishness' they could more easily avoid harassment. However, the differences linked to gender, age and class were erased in the course of time, and towards the end of the war these factors came to play a smaller and smaller role in people's experiences.

Analysing the importance of gender combined with other factors in the way Laura Palosuo has done is a new and unexplored perspective in the field of genocide research.

"The results are of interest to anyone who wants to know more about how people perceive and react to catastrophic situations," she says.

Source: Uppsala University

Explore further: Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Neutering project curbed feral cat population

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)β€”An intensive effort to sterilize feral cats reduced the number of felines taken to an animal shelter in Florida and euthanized, a new study reveals.

Oregon sues Oracle over failed health care website

5 hours ago

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says she's filed a lawsuit against Oracle Corp. and several of its executives over the technology company's role in the state's troubled health insurance exchange.

Google buys product design firm Gecko

5 hours ago

Google on Friday confirmed that it bought Gecko Design to bolster its lab devoted to technology-advancing projects such as self-driving cars and Internet-linked Glass eyewear.

Lawsuits challenge US drone, model aircraft rules

5 hours ago

Model aircraft hobbyists, research universities and commercial drone interests filed lawsuits Friday challenging a government directive that they say imposes tough new limits on the use of model aircraft ...

Recommended for you

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

Aug 27, 2014

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

Mind over matter for people with disabilities

Aug 26, 2014

People with serious physical disabilities are unable to do the everyday things that most of us take for granted despite having the will – and the brainpower – to do so. This is changing thanks to European ...

Ukraine's former world's tallest man dies

Aug 25, 2014

Ukraine's tallest man, who briefly held the world record but gave it up to live as a recluse, has died due to complications from the condition that saw him never stop growing, local media reported Monday.

User comments : 0