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Anne Frank at 11 years of age, two years before going into hiding. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1940.
On July 14, 1933, the Nazi dictatorship enacted the Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases. Individuals who were subject to the law were those men and women who “suffered” from any of nine conditions listed in the law: hereditary feeblemindedness, schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, hereditary epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea (a rare and fatal degenerative disease), hereditary blindness, hereditary deafness, severe physical deformity, and chronic alcoholism.
Gerda D., a shopworker, was one of an estimated 400,000 Germans who were forcibly sterilized. She was sterilized after a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia. Later, Nazi authorities forbade Gerda to marry because of the sterilization.
Emmi G., a 16-year-old housemaid diagnosed as schizophrenic. She was sterilized and sent to the Meseritz-Obrawalde euthanasia center where she was killed with an overdose of tranquilizers on December 7, 1942. Place and date uncertain.
Jewish women and girls wearing the compulsory badge. Vienna, Austria, 1941.
Jewish women at forced labor in a sewing workshop in the Lodz ghetto. Lodz, Poland, between 1940 and 1944.
Blanka was an only child in a close-knit family in Lodz, Poland. Her father died in 1937. After the German invasion of Poland, Blanka and her mother remained in Lodz with Blanka's grandmother, who was unable to travel. Along with other relatives, they were forced into the Lodz ghetto in 1940. There, Blanka worked in a bakery. She and her mother later worked in a hospital in the Lodz ghetto, where they remained until late 1944 when they were deported to the Ravensbrueck camp in Germany. From Ravensbrueck, Blanka and her mother were sent to a subcamp of Sachsenhausen. Blanka was forced to work in an airplane factory (Arado-Werke). Her mother was sent to another camp. Soviet forces liberated Blanka in spring 1945. Blanka, living in abandoned houses, made her way back to Lodz. She discovered that none of her relatives, including her mother, had survived. Blanka then moved westward to Berlin, eventually to a displaced persons camp. She immigrated to the United States in 1947.
Women prisoners pull dumpcars filled with stones in the camp quarry. Plaszow camp, Poland, 1944.
Jewish women sort confiscated clothing in the Lodz ghetto. Photograph taken by Mendel Grossman between 1941 and 1944.
Mendel Grossman photograph collection
View of barracks in the women's camp in the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland, 1944.
Hildegard Kusserow, a Jehovah's Witness, was imprisoned for four years in several concentration camps including Ravensbrück. Germany, date uncertain.
Prewar photo of Ala Gertner. Bedzin, Poland, 1930s.
After being deported to Auschwitz, Ala Gertner took fate into her own hands. Upon arrival, she was assigned to forced labor at a nearby armaments factory. After learning that they were going to be killed, Gertner, along with fellow female prisoners, began smuggling gunpowder and explosives from the factory with plans to destroy one of the crematoriums. During the uprising in October 1944, the prisoners killed three guards. They also set fire to Crematorium 4, making it inoperableThe guards crushed the revolt and killed almost all of the prisoners involved in the rebellion. The Jewish women, including Gertner, who had smuggled the explosives into the camp were publicly hanged in early January 1945.
Jewish parachutist Hannah Szenes at Kibbutz Sedot Yam, a communal agricultural settlement. Palestine, 1941.
Jewish parachutist Hannah Szenes with her brother, before leaving for a rescue mission. Palestine, March 1944.
Between 1943 and 1945, a group of Jewish men and women from Palestine who had volunteered to join the British army parachuted into German-occupied Europe. Their mission was to organize resistance to the Germans and aid in the rescue of Allied personnel. Hannah Szenes was among these volunteers.
Szenes was captured in German-occupied Hungary and executed in Budapest on November 7, 1944, at the age of 23.
Haika Grosman, one of the organizers of the Bialystok ghetto underground and participant in the Bialystok ghetto revolt. Poland, 1945.
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