The Oscar-winning actress then moved the crowd with a dramatic reading from Israeli author Nava Semel’s novel And the Rat Laughed – a stark pastiche of childhood memories, confessional poetry and a Polish priest’s diary, time-tripping from 1943 through the present to 2099.
Tackling the very darkest of material — the tale of a Jewish girl hiding in a pit with a pet rat, sexually abused by the son of a Polish farmer — the actress looked up to the ceiling and called out with her unmistakable, pleading voice, “How to tell the story?”
Fonda concluded by pointing out that the long overlooked voices of sexual victims of the Holocaust are relevant to the present — “from Yugoslavia to Rwanda to the Congo.” She introduced a short video, shot in Denver in 1995 as part of Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation project, which has collected almost 52,000 testimonials in 32 languages.
This clip showed Manya, a rosy-cheeked, 77-year-old Auschwitz survivor, recounting how she had been pulled aside by a Nazi guard. “He said that I’m pretty. ‘She’ll do different work.’”
In the video, Manya recalls in broken English how she was taken to clean in the officer’s quarters, a private room stocked with weapons and guns. “I knew I’m in trouble because he touched me in the face,” she says.
‘This was a minor area in genocide studies. In the past, [sexual violence] was considered too specific, ‘niche,’ something for feminists’
Ultimately, he beat her and raped her, and Manya remembers that “the guard told me, ‘When [your] face will be gone, you’ll go with the fire … you see the smoke?’” He then pointed to the chimney from the nearby crematorium.
The clip ends with Manya exhorting her fellow survivors to speak out as she has.
It was serious stuff for the Kurtzman Theater, a tony venue in the Century City area that’s part of Creative Artists Agency, the talent firm created by Hollywood power brokers including former Disney head Michael Ovitz.
The video, and Fonda’s reading, marked the culmination of a groundbreaking two-day symposium attended by more than a dozen Holocaust scholars. Put together by the USC Shoah Foundation — in conjunction with Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, founder of Remember the Women Institute, and Jessica Neuwirth, one of the founders of women’s rights organization Equality Now — the seminars brought together social historians, language professors, biological anthropologists, doctors of political science and Holocaust experts from all over the world.
November 9, 2012
The Times of Israel
Photos courtesy Kim Fox
Fuente: Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda urges remembrance of sexual violence during the Holocaust
Actress, activist speaks at international symposium convened by USC Shoah Foundation and Remember the Women Institute
November 13, 2012
The symposium, held at USC Hillel, was inspired by Sexual Violence against Jewish Women in the Holocaust, edited by Dr. Sonja M. Hedgepeth and Dr. Saidel (Brandeis University Press, 2010), the first scholarly text ever published on the subject. The symposium focused on collecting new testimony to make victims’ voices heard; discovering existing documentation; compiling already-published citations of sexual violence; and ensuring that sexual violence is included in the Holocaust narrative.
“When thinking about the issue of genocide, sexual abuse is not a part of our consideration. But it needs to be, because women as a group are often targeted [because] they are women,” Smith said. “I’d like to thank all the women who have led us so courageously to raise this issue... But I want to say, as a man, that I accept my responsibility to raise this [issue] with other men, and to find other men to speak out on this issue, because this is our issue.”
“It wasn’t just in the camps, but also in the ghettos, in hiding, on death marches, and as private sex slaves of Nazis and their collaborators in the East,” Saidel noted. “There was sexual abuse by Nazis, Kapos [supervisor-prisoners], and by Jewish and non-Jewish camp inmates with more privileges. Women sometimes were forced to accept rape in exchange for food and survival. There were all kinds of stories and situations. And there were also men who were sexually violated.”
The following statement was issued after the symposium by those participants listed below:
Symposium on Sexual Violence during the Holocaust: Group Statement
Evidence, information, and scholarship are emerging that sexual violence, long largely ignored, was an integral part of the Holocaust in many forms. Absence of acknowledgment of this reality has harmed not only survivors but also the understanding of and efforts to prevent genocide, and efforts to stop sexual violence in genocide, war, and every day. We hope that increasing awareness of this subject, obscured by shame and denial, will bring recognition to the victims—many of whom did not survive—to rectify this omission from history, and support the work of those who oppose these atrocities.
Patrice Bensimon, France
Dr. Paula David, Toronto
Dr. Monika Flaschka, USA
Dr. Eva Fogelman, USA
Dr. Myrna Goldenberg, USA
Dr. Sonja Hedgepeth, USA
Karen Jungblut, USA
Dr. Dan Leshem, USA
Dr. Catharine MacKinnon, USA
Daisy Miller, USA
Jessica Neuwirth, USA
Dr. Amy Parish, USA
Dr. Andrea Peto, Hungary
Dr. John Roth, USA
Dr. Rochelle Saidel, USA and Israel
Karen Shulman, USA
Dr. Stephen Smith, USA
Dr. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, USA
Dr. Zoe Waxman, United Kingdom
About the sponsoring organizations
USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education (sfi.usc.edu) is dedicated to making audio-visual interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity, a compelling voice for education and action. The Institute’s current collection of 51,696 eyewitness testimonies contained within its Visual History Archive preserves history as told by the people who lived it and lived through it. Housed at the University of Southern California, within the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Institute works with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes.
Through research and related activities, Remember the Women Institute (www.rememberwomen.org) promotes the stories of women so they might be integrated into history and collective memory. The work of the Institute is intended to influence academic research and publications, as well as popular culture, by encouraging the inclusion of all of humanity in historical and commemorative representations. The projects of the Institute include carrying out research on women and the Holocaust, co-publishing books, creating exhibits, organizing panels at conferences, and cooperating with other institutes and organizations for programs, films, and exhibits.
Founded in 1992, Equality Now (www.equalitynow.org) is an organization that advocates for the human rights of women and girls around the world by raising international visibility of individual cases of abuse, mobilizing public support through our global membership, and wielding strategic political pressure to ensure that governments enact or enforce laws and policies that uphold the rights of women and girls.