The Polish Jewish Woman From the Beginning of the Occupation to the Deportation to the Ghettos
The article looks at how Jewish women were affected by the upheavals that characterized the early months of the Nazi occupation of Poland. It follows the deterioration in their living conditions and examines how they coped with the exceptional challenges with which they were confronted. Two central issues are addressed: the changes that took place in the everyday lives of women and their self-awareness from the beginning of the German occupation until they were enclosed in the ghettos; and the distinctive fate of Jewish women among the occupied civilian female population. Whereas certain aspects of women’s hardships and distress, as well as their reactions, were rooted in their gender, clearly it was their Jewishness, not their gender that determined their special situation. Among the subjects examined in the article are: the impact of flight from Poland on the women; the German authorities’ attitude to men and women; changes in women’s patterns of behavior; running the household, taking on additional functions, and acquiring new meaning; the influences of socio-economic differences; the impact of refugee status - the number of women among the refugees was far higher than that of the men; a comparative analysis of Jewish and Polish women.