Perpetrator Studies Network


German Women’s Life Writing and the Holocaust: Complicity and Gender in the Second World War

By Elisabeth Kimmer.

This important study examines women’s life writing about the Second World War and the Holocaust, such as memoirs, diaries, docunovels, and autobiographically inspired fiction. Through a historical and literary study of the complex relationship between gender, genocide, and female agency, the analyzes correct androcentric views of the Second World War and seek to further our understanding of a group that, although crucial to the functioning of the National Socialist regime, has often been overlooked: that of the complicit bystander. Chapters on army auxiliaries, nurses, female refugees, rape victims, and Holocaust survivors analyze women’s motivations for enlisting in the National Socialist cause, as well as for their continuing support for the regime and, in some cases, their growing estrangement from it. The readings allow insights into the nature of complicity itself, the emergence of violence in civil society, and the possibility of social justice.

Elisabeth Krimmer is Professor of German at the University of California, Davis. Her previous publications include: Religion, Reason, and Culture in the Age of Goethe (2013); Enlightened War: Theories and Cultures of Warfare in Eighteenth-Century Germany (2011); The Representation of War in German Literature: From 1800 to the Present (Cambridge, 2010); In the Company of Men: Cross-Dressed Women around 1800 (2004), Hollywood Divas, Indie Queens and TV Heroines: Contemporary Screen Images of Women (2004) and Contemporary Hollywood Masculinities: Gender, Genre and Politics (2011)

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