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VWI invites/goes to...
Marta Havryshko: War on Women's Bodies. Sexual Violence during the Holocaust in Ukraine

Wednesday, 20. January 2021, 15:00 - 17:00

Only on Zoom:


VWI invites

Sophie Kalski

Sexual violence was one of the most horrific parts of women's everyday lives during the Holocaust. The presented research project analyses the causes, locations, patterns, forms, dynamics, and consequences of sexual violence perpetrated against Jewish girls and women during the Shoah using a gender approach. This project stands out as it considers the whole period of Nazi occupation of one specific region – Ukraine – which allows for an examination of the different waves and forms of sexual violence perpetrated but also of different actors in a particular area (with special attention being paid to local perpetrators, including members of the civic administration, the Ukrainian auxiliary police, and nationalists). The main questions under consideration include: Was sexual violence a by-product of the genocide or rather its tool? How and why could rape be considered an instrument of terror, humiliation, punishment, revenge, and dehumanisation, for the demonstration of power, bonding among perpetrators, and the construction of gender roles? What is sexual about sexual violence in the Holocaust? The project analyses how cultural ideas and discourse about the body, sexuality, and reproduction, as well as ethnic, racial, national, religious, and political identity and the position of power contributed to perpetrators’ motivations for and strategies of sexual violence, as well as victims’/survivors’ experiences of these processes. The project seeks to create a meaningful space for Jewish women’s voices and perspectives.

Commented by Helga Amesberger

Marta Havryshko is currently a Gerda Henkel Research Fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies. She is a Research Associate at the I. Krypiakevych Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Her research interests include sexual violence during the Holocaust and the Second World War, gender history, and nationalism. In 2019/20, she was a fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Her research has been supported by Yad Vashem, the German Academic Exchange Service, Yahad-In Unum, Monash University, and others.

Helga Amesberger was a senior researcher at the Institute of Conflict Research in Vienna. Her main research topics include the National Socialist persecution of women with a focus on Ravensbrück and Mauthausen, (sexual) violence against women, and prostitution policy. She has published widely on these subjects, including her book Sexualisierte Gewalt. Weibliche Erfahrungen in NS-Konzentrationslagern (together with Brigitte Halbmayr und Katrin Auer, 2016). Her latest books deal with the Nazi persecution of so-called ‘asocial’ women.

Photo credit: A painting by artist Sophia Kalski depicting Lwow in the winter of 1943. The artist writes "I walk round and round all alone in the streets and I don't know--should I go left or right..." USHMM | Photograph Number: N10933

Click here to download the invitation as a PDF file.

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