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April 19, 2012 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-04-19

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metro >>Yom HaShoah / on the cover


"Women of Ravensbruck" exhibit
features survivors with Detroit ties.

Robyn GoreII I Special to the Jewish News


Germany specially constructed for women
and children; a smaller camp also was
included for men. It opened late in 1938.
After the war began, the numbers of pris-
oners and the countries they came from
kept increasing.
The camp conditions were horrific: death
by starvation, beatings, torture, hanging
and shooting occurred daily. The inmates
were forced to work incredibly long days at
SS companies located around Ravensbruck.
There was a crematory and, in late 1944,
a gas chamber was added. Those women
physically too weak to work ended up in
the gas chamber or as participants of so-
called "medical" experiments by SS doctors.
Among those featured in "Women of
Ravensbruck" is former
Detroiter Eva Wimmer,
now 85 and living in
Florida. She grew up in
Poland. Her father was a
shoemaker. With 10 chil-
dren, life for the family
was a struggle. Wimmer
and her family were
Eva Wimmer
transported to a ghetto
and subsequently several
concentration camps,
including Auschwitz, where her parents
Wimmer arrived at Ravensbruck in 1945
with her five sisters, who all managed to
survive the Holocaust. She spent less than
a year at Ravensbruck amidst its horrible

The Exhibition:
"Women of

"Women of Ravensbruck: Portraits of
Courage" is on loan from the Florida
Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, and
is both an art and history installation.
The exhibit is here at the instigation of
Stephen Goldman, HMC executive direc-
tor, who conceived the idea to develop it
while serving as director of the Florida
Holocaust Museum.

10 April 19 • 2012

conditions before being helped by the
Swedish Red Cross. With American finan-
cial aid, she was moved by bus to Sweden.
She spent nine years in Sweden, receiving
medical care and health-restoring nourish-
ment. Her sisters decided to work for food
and clothes, while she spent her time in a
factory making brushes. She met her hus-
band Philip in Sweden.
In 1954, the couple moved to the United
States, spending the first year in Boston
before settling with their children in the
Detroit area, where her oldest sister was
already living.
Now, Wimmer serves as a docent at the
Holocaust Memorial Center (HMC) when-
ever she can.
"I do this because it is important:' she
says. "So few of us survived the nightmare
of Ravensbruck. Its purpose was torture. I
am a witness to this history"
Ann Arbor resident Lola Taubman, 88,
was born in Czechoslovakia. At age 19, she
was transported to a ghetto by train. Later
on, a freight train took her to Auschwitz,
where she spent about a year. The barracks
in the camp were not ready, so the women
and children walked to Birkenau, a twice-
daily journey of about five miles, until the
barracks were completed.
Along with eight other girls, Taubman's
job there was to pick up packages of cloth-
ing, shoes and jewelry left behind by those
who had been killed, and carry them to
the warehouses. Their days were grim:
They were awakened at 2 a.m., followed by

Highlighted are works by the late
American artist Julia Terwilliger, including
several large mixed media panels featuring
images of prisoners and a special piece
commemorating those who perished and
those who survived. Documents, photos,
memorabilia and a recipe book developed
by the inmates are included.
Specially added for this local exhibit are
photographs and short histories of several
Detroit area women survivors. A couple of
them volunteer their time as docents at the
HMC or as speakers to tour groups there.
Of the more than 132,000 women and
children imprisoned at Ravensbruck, esti-
mates suggest that nearly three quarters

Above: These local women

experienced the horrors
of Ravensbruck: Paula
Marks-Bolton of West

Bloomfield, Lola Taubman

of Ann Arbor, Agi Rubin
of Farmington Hills,
Elizabeth Wees of Novi

and Irene Zuckerman
Snitchler of Southfield.

roll call and a piece of bread.
Local survivor Agi Rubin explains about life in the
Dressed in drab gray shifts,
barracks at Ravensbruck.
they worked from 6 a.m.-6
p.m. At noon, they were given
moved to Mechelen, a Belgian transit camp,
thin soup in the camp's dining
for about six months.
In 1945, Taubman had a job in a muni-
As the war neared its end, many women
tions factory in Leipzig. Life still was
and children were forced to walk to the
awful, with unfriendly supervisors mak-
German border in the January snow, even
ing the work more miserable. There were
though they were unsuitably dressed for
nightly bombings: The building eventually
the weather and fighting malnutrition and
was destroyed. This was followed by a
illnesses like dysentery. Taubman and the
death march during which many people
others boarded a cattle car and were taken
died from illness, starvation, beatings
to Ravensbruck to work. Fortunately, she
was there for only a short time before being and shootings. Taubman ended up in a

of them died there through starvation,
executions or poor health. ❑

To see the exhibit, go to the Holocaust
Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus,
28123 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills.

Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (last admission at
3:30 p.m.) Sunday-Thursday, 9:30-a.m.-3

p.m. (last admission 1:30 p.m.) Fridays.
Closed Saturdays. Docent public tours, 1
p.m. Sunday-Friday. Adults, $8; seniors
and college students, $6; students, $5. For

group tours or more information, call (248)
553-2400 or go to www.holocaustcenter.

Women doing forced labor at



Ravensbruck concentration camp in

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