Abstract: Ravensbrück Concentration Camp

Ravensbrück, a small town in the north of Germany, was the site of an all-female Nazi concentration camp that stood from 1939 to 1945. Of the estimated 132,000 women who passed through its gates, approximately 100,000 to 117,000 perished. As the camp lies north of Berlin, it fell behind the Iron Curtain after the end of the war. Out of Western reach, the site became a shrine to the war’s communist heroines. As a consequence, the stories of the women who were held at Ravensbrück were obscured and ignored both in historiographical literature and wider German national consciousness for more than half a century. For this project, I will be analyzing Ravensbrück as an understudied site of horror with a focus on four main groups of women that passed through the camp. Foremost, I will concentrate on a group of Polish women known as the Rabbits. Dr. Karl Gebhard, Dr. Fritz Fischer, and Dr. Herta Oberheuser performed gruesome medical experiments on these women at Ravensbrück in 1942 and 1943. In addition, I will examine female Nazi doctors, female SS personnel, and members of European resistance groups who were arrested and sent to Ravensbrück. I believe concentrating on these groups will provide an overview of the interactions of different women in the camp, both perpetrators and victims, as well as increase scholarly understanding of specific individuals, such as the Rabbits, who have received limited historiographical attention.