Reading List

Reading list #20: Survivors and Perpetrators of Ravensbrück

This is Reading List #20, a selection of recent Holocaust-related news stories and links from around the internet.


The BBC reports on the story of women who worked as guards at Ravensbrück concentration camp, the infamous site in northern Germany in which female prisoners of the Nazis were held. The motivations of ordinary women who became brutal and sadistic agents of Nazi cruelty are examined, and 98-year-old former Ravensbrück prisoner Selma van der Perre is interviewed about her experiences. Last year, she published a book about her life, entitled My Name is Selma.


87-year-old Holocaust survivor Toby Levy write in the New York Times about the year of his life lost to the Covid pandemic. Levy was born in 1933 near Lvov (now Lviv, present-day Ukraine) and hid with members of his family with the Nazis occupied the territory. He writes: “I keep very busy, and it helps me a lot. I am trying not to give up. But what is getting me down is that I am losing a year. And this bothers me terribly. I’m 87 years old, and I lost almost a full year.”


Many news organisations have marked the 100th birthday of Hungarian Olympic gold medallist and Holocaust survivor Agnes Keleti, including The Guardian. Keleti had been due to compete at the 1940 Tokyo Olympics, but was expelled by her gymnastics club for being Jewish; remarkably, she didn’t reach the Olympics until she was 31 years old, but went on to win five gold medals in the following years.


Laurence Rees talks to BBC History Extra in a very interesting podcast interview about his most recent book, Hitler and Stalin. Rees has contributed a great deal to the mainstream literature on the Nazi regime and the Holocaust over the last twenty-five years, most notably his landmark TV series, The Nazis: A Warning from History. In this interview, he compares the utopian visions of the two dictators and gives an answer to that perennial question: which one was worse?


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If you have seen a relevant article that could be included in next week’s reading list, why not get in touch via the contact page, or on Twitter, @holocaustreader?

Inclusion of articles on this list does not necessarily indicate endorsement of opinions expressed within them.

Images in this post are used under the principle of fair use for the purposes of review, education and study, and will be removed at the request of the copyright holder(s).

The header image shows female prisoners working at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp , c.1939. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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