Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Ernst Breisach

Second Advisor

Dr. Judith Stone

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul Maier


The subject of Auschwitz and the tales told by its small population of survivors are not new to scholarly studies. Survivor accounts have been studied for a variety of reasons: to call attention to a tragic period in Jewish and world history, to attempt to understand the goal of Nazi Jewish policy, as an unfortunately small aside in high school history classes, and even, by some, as a means of proving that the horrible massacre of millions of innocent victims never occurred. Most scholars approach the material with the aim of proving the authenticity of events described in survivor memoirs. This is not a paper designed to prove that the events described by these authors occurred in the exact way and time that is claimed. The very fact that many memoirs tell similar stories and that these stories are backed by historical evidence lends the accounts a certain level of credence. Rather, this paper is about the people themselves. What do the accounts tell us about their authors? What were their perceptions of and reactions to their experiences at Auschwitz? More specifically, in what ways can the accounts of male and female survivors be contrasted or compared? Are there recognizable differences in the perceptions of male inmates versus the perceptions of female inmates? According to their memoirs, did male prisoners react differently to their surroundings than did female prisoners? Ten memoirs, five by each gender group, will be analyzed in an attempt to answer these questions. From these accounts, a unique perspective will be gained into how the prisoners perceived, described, and reacted to their experiences at Auschwitz.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only