"Imprisoned in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Traumatic experience reflected in personal documents"
NOMOS Publishing House
Extensive research concerning the past, requires using the knowledge of all the people living in the period, without constraining to documents written in that time, by those who had “the right to speak”. In this book the voice is being given to particular witnesses, who were left out of the mainstream for a long time. The subject matter for research concerns the published memories of both Polish Jews and the activists of the Home Army - the former prisoners of Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp (Halina Birenbaum, Miriam Akavii, Zofia Kossak, Wanda Ossowska, Seweryna Szmaglewska, Krystyna Żywulska).
The first part outlines theoretical and methodological background of the research. In the chapter entitled "Wypowiedź świadka historii" (“An Utterance Given by the Witness of History”) the key questions are being addressed: can we speak about the real witnesses of those events in the case of Holocaust? Is it justified to limit the area of research only to the personal documents of women? The book discusses also the relations between sociology and history, oral history, the woman as the equal witness of history, feminine history and gender history. Next, the author adverts to the views concerning the biographical method used by such sociologists as Norman Denzin, Kenneth Plummer or Fritz Schűtze. The book examines also the characteristic features of women’s autobiographical narrative. The chapter entitled “Zapis traumy” (“The Record of Trauma“) focuses on the psychological mechanisms of memory, the uniqueness of memory about the traumatic events, the relationship between individual and collective memory, and “the fake” witnesses of Holocaust. Thereafter, the author describes the evolution of research approach within biographical method and the issues concerning diversity and the methodology of using personal documents to broaden the sociological knowledge. The last chapter of the first part is a critical overview of feminist methodological directives as well as the presentation of the chosen research technique – the quantitative content analysis.
The second part entitled "Być kobietą w KL Auschwitz-Birkenau" (“To Be a Woman in Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camp”) is a result of the analysis of the memories of the former prisoners. It presents possibly the broadest picture of the women’s role in concentration camps, which we can read from the published memoirs. Later chapters cover the differences between Jewish and Aryan trajectories to the camp, the diversity of the prisoners community, varsity of survival strategies and sexuality, corporeality and gender identity of the imprisoned.
In the conclusion, the ethical dilemmas concerning the feminist research on Holocaust are being discussed.