Deportee identities I
DOI link for Deportee identities I
Deportee identities I book
In this the first of three chapters analysing deportee identities, the focus falls on representations of gender and sexuality. A gendered approach to the field of Holocaust studies has had its detractors, with objections coming in various forms.1 Some critics claim that differentiation by gender can give rise to undesirable comparisons between male and female deportees, which may lead to victim blame (women survived better than their male homologues because they showed greater solidarity, had more developed domestic skills, etc.). In a related polemical move, it is claimed that a focus on gender runs the risk of deflecting attention away from Nazi policy and its devastating consequences by accentuating the positive in an inappropriate manner. Langer thus typically claims that:
listening to the voices of women who survived these domains [the Nazi camps] reminds us of the severely diminished role that gendered behavior played during those cruel years. Even when we hear stories of mutual support among women in the camps, the full context of these narratives shows us how seldom these alliances made any difference in the long-range effects of the ordeal for those who outlived it. Because it can never be segregated from the murder of the many, the survival of the few cannot be used as a measure of why some women survived and others did not.