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Master Thesis

Ravensbrück : donner la vie dans un camp de la mort, de 1939 à 1945

Abstract : Introduction: seventy-five years post-World War II, I decided to focus my research on maternity-related violence in concentration camps. This study takes place in Ravensbrück, the biggest concentration camp in the Nazi system, designed and built for detaining women, and specifically with a newborn room, the Kinderzimmer. This study overlooks the entire camp’s opened period, from its opening in May 1939, to its shutdown in April 1945. The goal is to describe living conditions and healthcare provided to pregnant women and newborns. My analysis also aims to distinguish deaths from “natural causes”, of both women and children, understand to what extent the medical professionals had free will, and lastly comprehend the mother-child bond and solidarity impacts. Means and Methods: answering to our research problem needed investigate and compile a text corpus, triangulating and comparing our findings from each document. Our work consisted in the elaboration of reading records from historical and autobiographic literature, specific publications on the topic of Ravensbrück and multimedia (audio-video) documents. Moreover, we added two testimonies: from the former child care worker of Ravensbrück on one part, and from a French inmate-born child. Results: approximately 120 000 women were deported to Ravensbrück, including thousands of pregnant women. Their destiny was bound to heterogeneous political and pseudo-scientific choices that can be divided into five main periods. Pregnant women did not benefit from any favorable treatment, and were gradually admitted into the Tremplin Hospital, where they were either forced to abort or deliver, in miserable sanitary and psychological conditions. Their children were either put up for adoption in Nazi orphanages, killed right after birth, or ended up in the Kinderzimmer, where they would die of dehydration, hypothermia or infections. An infant mortality rate of almost 94.1% was calculated from September 1944 to April 1945, according to the detailed camp records that were discovered following the camp liberation. Thanks to the strength of mothers and solidarity, 31 children born in Ravensbrück made it out alive. Conclusion: to conclude, surviving women and historians nicknamed Ravensbrück “women’s hell”, where unbearable obstetrical and neonatal violence took place. While the Nuremberg and Ravensbrück trials recognized these crimes against humanity, this study gives new testimonies. it creates a historical precedent for healthcare ethical considerations.
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Submitted on : Monday, July 5, 2021 - 3:05:21 PM
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  • HAL Id : dumas-03278364, version 1



Charlotte Boisson Panthier. Ravensbrück : donner la vie dans un camp de la mort, de 1939 à 1945. Gynécologie et obstétrique. 2020. ⟨dumas-03278364⟩



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