Ravensbrück: Week 7

The majority of my research at Ravensbrück involved working in the archives. From conversations with the archivists, I was able to fully comprehend the lack of original information on the camp. They explained that primary source documents on Ravensbrück are extremely few and far between. Because the Nazis burned almost all of their records, only a select number of documents that were smuggled out of the camp by prisoners exist today. All secondary sources on Ravensbrück are informed mainly by testimonies from prisoners and interrogation reports and documents from the post-war trials. Therefore, while I had initially envisioned being able to review sources from the period, my work there ended up focusing much more on testimonies and books written after the end of the war. I had already read much of the English-language books and articles on the camp, however, the archivists were able to pull a few texts that were inaccessible in the United States. Studies and Monographs: Experimental Operations on Prisoners of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, a 1960 book written by a group of Rabbits, offered the most information useful for my dissertation, particularly on the camp doctors. Knowledge about the SS personnel and doctors is sparse and comes mainly from memories of prisoners. Through this text, I was able to learn more about the roles of each doctor in the experiments and their interactions with the Rabbits. My research question focuses on the interactions between the Rabbits and their doctors, and Rabbits and other prisoners, therefore, the other aspect of these books that was useful were mentions of other prisoners who supported the Rabbits. For example, one Rabbit details a protest against further operations that was supported by a total of 500 prisoners. As punishment for this action, all of the women were forced to stay in their barracks for three days and nights without food. Another Rabbit explains that “each [Rabbit] has her own ‘Fairy-Godmother,’ usually one of the prisoners working in the staff kitchen. A guardian of this kind watches over our needs and provides us with some nourishing bites, often risking her life in the process.” These reminiscences provide a deeper look into the relationships between groups of prisoners.

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