CFP: Heroines of the Holocaust: Frameworks of Resistance

Laura Morowitz's picture
Call for Papers
June 2, 2021 to June 3, 2021
New Jersey, United States
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Jewish History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies




Heroines of the Holocaust: Frameworks of Resistance


Wagner College Holocaust Center

June 2-3, 2021


“Nobody taught us how to fight or to perform our duties. We learned by ourselves not only how to clean and use a gun, but how to conduct ourselves in combat and battle, how to blow up a bridge or a train, how to cut communication lines and how to stand on guard.”

—Sara Ginaite, partisan, March 8, 1944 (International Woman’s Day)


The activities of women during the Holocaust have often been forgotten, erased, misunderstood, or intentionally distorted. Jewish women and those of all faiths fought with dignity, compassion and courage to save others from the murderous Nazi regime in over 30 nations. Often overlooked, women as well as men played critical roles in uprisings against the Nazis in over 50 ghettos, 18 forced labor camps and 5 concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Women were critical to the Jewish underground and other resistance networks both as armed fighters and as strategists and couriers of intelligence and false papers. Women played essential roles operating educational, cultural and humanitarian initiatives. In other genocides, women also faced horrendous atrocities, yet distinguished themselves with resilience and acts of moral courage. This symposium hopes to create a new narrative around agency in the Shoah and other genocides, which may inspire transformative activism today. 


From the groundbreaking 1983 conference on “Women and the Holocaust” at Stern College to the 2018 symposium on “Women, the Holocaust and Genocide” at Seton Hill University, research on gender issues has grown exponentially. Innumerable books, conferences, panels, films, journal special issues, and groups such as Remember the Women Institute, now document the inspiring lives of female participants. Yet, there remain many untold stories of women fighting back against the Nazis with pistol or pen. The leadership strategies, networks of defiance and testimony of better-known activists, such as Vitka Kempner-Kovner, Zivia Lubetkin, Vladka Meed, Sara Fortis, Gisi Fleishman, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, Nadezhda Popova, Haviva Reik, Edith Bruck, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and Roza Robota, among others, still merit far more attention; their lives, too, should become part of the canon of Holocaust study. How is our understanding of the Shoah-- and the central question of how it happened-- impacted and re-conceptualized by knowing about the activities of female resisters and rescuers?  This symposium will bring together international scholars working on this topic to share new approaches, projects and information on well-known women, as well as those whose stories remain shrouded in obscurity.


We seek papers exploring women as rescuers and resisters of the Holocaust and genocide. Topics include, but are not limited to:


Leadership Lessons of Women in Resistance Networks

Women and Resistance in the Concentration Camps

Women Rescuers and Resisters in the Ghettos 

Female Partisans in World War II

The Psychology of Rescue and Resistance

Women Doctors, Nurses and Social Workers

Female Artists as Resisters

The Power of a Photo of Women Resisters

The Role of Women in Zionist and other youth groups

Women as Resisters and Rescuers in Genocide

Resilient Bonds: Mother/Sister/Aunt/Daughter/Grandmother

Beyond Anne Frank: Women’s Journals, Memoirs and Archives

Films and Music of Women and Human Rights

Limits and Possibilities of Collection of Women’s Oral Testimony and Archives

Post-Holocaust Life of Female Resisters and Rescuers

Historiography of Jewish and non-Jewish Resisters and Rescuers

Illiberal Memory Politics and Selective Forgetting of Women

Teaching about Women, Resistance and Rescue


Please submit abstracts of 300 to 500 words outlining the focus and approach of your paper. Abstracts must include full name and title, institutional affiliation and email address. Please also attach a copy of your CV. 


Subject line should be: LAST NAME Abstract Heroines

Submit to both Conference Organizers:

Laura Morowitz, Professor of Art History, Wagner College

And Lori Weintrob, Professor of History and Director, Wagner College Holocaust Center


Important Dates:

August 15, 2002: Deadline for submission of Abstracts

October 1, 2020: Notification of Acceptance


The two-day symposium on the campus of Wagner College, in Staten Island, New York, is sponsored by the Wagner College Holocaust Center. The Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan will host a private visit for participants. Details on accommodations and travel will be sent following acceptance of paper. We will open up the conference on the second day to NY/NJ teachers and a general audience ensuring an even greater circulation of these ideas.


Contact Info: 

Professor Laura Morowitz, Wagner College

Professor Lori Weintrob, Wagner College

Contact Email: