Conference Proceeding: Women of Valor: Female Resistance to the Nazis

As a little girl growing up in a post-World War II Jewish suburb of Detroit, Michigan, Joanne Gilbert was profoundly influenced by her Grandmother’s vivid stories of the beloved family members and friends who were so brutally murdered in Vilna, Lithuania during the Holocaust. She was particularly troubled by the images of Jews going to their deaths “like sheep going to the slaughter,” and wondered if any of them fought for their lives. She was also curious about their Gentile friends and neighbors--did any of them try to help the Jews? And as a Baby-Boomer growing up at the beginning of the Women’s Movement, she was particularly interested in finding out about the role of women during the darkest time in human history. Her research has taken her all over the U.S., Canada and to Europe researching Jewish and Gentile women who were anti-Nazi Resisters and Partisans during World War II. According to Joanne, “the unsung stories of these amazing 90+ year-old women, from different countries and different walks of life, who still lead lives committed to human rights--provide testimony to not just to the strength of the female body and soul but to the finest qualities of humanity—qualities that transcend age, ethnicity, religion and socio-economic status.

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