Jewish History: World War II

Displaying 1 - 25 of 239

Ruth Aliav-Klüger

She was the only woman among the early members of the Mosad, which smuggled Jews out of Europe and into Palestine in an attempt to circumvent the aliyah restrictions of the British Mandatory authorities. Late in World War II Aliav-Klüger was among the first representatives of the Yishuv to meet with Holocaust survivors on European soil and come to the aid of the she’erit ha-pletah (surviving remnant). In early 1949 Aliav-Klüger returned to Israel and, like many of her Mosad comrades, joined the Zim national shipping company. In 1974 she was selected as Woman of the Year by the National Council Of Jewish Women in the United States in honor of the release of her book, The Last Escape, describing her activities with the Mosad le-Aliyah Bet between 1938 and 1941 (published originally in English and translated into Hebrew).

Tosia (Taube) Altman

Tosia Altman

Altman, who represented the Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir movement in the underground correspondence, was a symbol and a legend among the members of her movement in Palestine—a symbol that was quickly forgotten.

American Jewish Congress

Women have played an important part in the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) since the organization was first established after World War I.

Art during the Holocaust

It is now generally considered that while men and women shared the same fate and their daily existence in the internment and concentration camps was more or less similar, differences between the sexes did exist. Such differences are reflected in the works of art produced in the camps.

Israela Oron and Esther Herlitz at "Dor l'Dor Yabia Omer" in Sarafand, June 19, 1996

ATS and WAAF in World War II

The Yishuv regarded the war against Nazi Germany (World War II) as its war. At the behest of the Jewish Agency thirty thousand men volunteered for the British Army between 1939 and 1946. Only when the Council of Women’s Organizations called for the recruitment of women as well, was an agreement reached with the British authorities to enlist women into the forces. The first to join, on January 25, 1942, were a small group of sixty women to be trained as officers and N.C.O.s for the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service). Women for the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) were drafted only on May 25, 1943.

"Ein Hollandisches Salzweib" by Susi Singer-Schinnerl
Manzi Kestel-Bauer Painting

Austria: Jewish Women Artists

Although modern Austrian art attracted a high proportion of Jewish women, most of them are forgotten today both because of the male ethos of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century life which relegated women to the domestic domain, and because of the Holocaust which robbed many Jewish women artists of their lives and erased their artistic achievements from popular recognition.

B'nai B'rith Women/Jewish Women International Logo

B'nai B'rith Women

Before the outbreak of World War I, over a dozen B’nai B’rith women’s auxiliaries were scattered from San Francisco to New Jersey. They expanded into cultural activities, philanthropy, and community service, such as financial support of orphanages and homes for the elderly. Their announced aims were to perpetuate Jewish culture, enrich their communities, and ensure the religious survival of their sons and daughters. Their unannounced goals included sociability and the first steps toward personal independence.

Tatjana Barbakoff, 1931

Tatjana Barbakoff

Born Cilly Edelberg in Latvia in 1899, the dancer who called herself Tatjana Barbakoff lacked formal dance training, yet created a world of her own through her charming personality, exotic stage costumes and lyrical dance expression.

Barbara (Monique Andree Serf), 1965

Barbara (Monique Andree Serf)

Under her simple stage name “Barbara,” Monique Andrée Serf (b. Paris June 9, 1930, d. Neuilly-sur-Seine November 24–25, 1997) was an immensely popular French singer and composer in the cabaret style.

Dorothy Walter Baruch

Dorothy Walter Baruch

Baruch’s foremost concern, expressed through a wide range of professional activities as an educator, author, psychologist, and community leader, was the healthy emotional development of the young child with the full understanding that physical, intellectual, and emotional development are all interrelated.

Matilde Bassani Finzi

Matilde Bassani Finzi continued her activity in anti-fascist groups and, together with Giorgio Bassani, organized parlor meetings and helped distribute newspapers and newsletters. After Mussolini’s fall on July 25, 1943, Bassani Finzi was released together with all the political prisoners. Immediately upon her release she contacted the Resistance groups, who began to organize in case Germany should invade Italy, which it did on September 8, 1943. After the war she continued to work for the ideals in which she believed: freedom, democracy and equality for women.

Edith Fraenke of the Baum Gruppe

Baum Gruppe: Jewish Women

On May 18, 1942, two anti-Nazi Communist groups set fire to the anti-Soviet exhibit, Das Sowjetparadies (The Soviet Paradise), which was held in the Lustgarten in Berlin. The larger, leading group of the two, almost entirely Jewish in its composition and led by Herbert Baum, was known as the Baum Gruppe.

"La Kahéna, Reine Barbare" Front Cover by Berthe Bénichou-Aboulker

Berthe Bénichou-Aboulker

Berthe Bénichou-Aboulker was the first woman writer to have her work published in her country of birth, Algeria, whose generous land and mixed population she praised in Pays de flamme (Land of Flame).

Margarete Berent

Margarete Berent was the first female lawyer to practice in Prussia and the second female lawyer ever licensed in Germany. In 1925 she opened her own law firm in Berlin. Not only was she the first female lawyer and the head of her own law firm, but she was also an ardent feminist and active in promoting opportunities for women.

Lili Berger

Lili Berger

In an article commemorating Jean-Paul Sartre written shortly after his death, Lili Berger emphasized his role as a writer engagé and observed: “Yes, he made mistakes, but what active person has not?” This description could easily fit Lili Berger herself. A prolific literary critic and essayist who wrote fiction, short stories and novels, Berger was also politically engaged. She wrote to educate, instruct, expose and memorialize.

Elisabeth Bergner, 1935

Elisabeth Bergner

One of the most successful and popular stage and screen actresses in pre-World War II Germany, “die Bergner,” as she was known, was born on August 22, 1897 in Drobycz, Austrian Galicia, to a merchant, Emil Ettel (d. 1934) and Anna Rosa (née Wagner).

Clementine Bern-Zernik

From 1936 through 1938, while Clementine Bloch was articled to lawyers, she realized that she was interested in criminal law and after passing the bar examination in 1938, she indeed gained a reputation in criminal cases. From 1948 to 1975 she was as a UN librarian at the New York Public Library and in this capacity served as a liaison between the Library and the UN.

Eva Besnyö

Photographer and photojournalist Eva Besnyö was born in Budapest on April 29, 1910.

Meta Pollak Bettman

Meta Pollak Bettman was an untiring volunteer in Jewish and civic causes.

Ilse Bing, Self-Portrait, 1931

Ilse Bing

Ilse Bing’s legacy is her photographs. She was an artist who seized the moment and is recognized as a pioneer in the birth of modern photography.

Marietta Blau at the Institute for Radium Research in Vienna, circa 1925

Marietta Blau

Although she was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, Blau, being both female and Jewish, had no hope of a professional career.

Claire Bloom

Claire Bloom

Since her first film role in Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight literally propelled her into the limelight, Claire Bloom has been one of the most iconic and popular actresses of her generation.

Gertrud Bodenwieser

Gertrud Bodenwieser

Gertrud Bodenwieser belonged to the first generation of modern dancers in Vienna.

Ruth Bondy, 2008

Ruth Bondy

Ruth Bondy is an author, a journalist and a gifted translator from Czech to Hebrew.

Hansi Brand (Hartmann)

A Zionist activist in Hungary during the Holocaust, Hansi Hartmann was born in 1912 in Budapest and was educated there.

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