Rambling about books

Book review: Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women, by Sarah Helm

Book cover from Goodreads

And yet it is precisely because this was a camp for women that Ravensbrück should have shaken the conscience of the world. Other camps showed what mankind was capable of doing to man. The Jewish camps showed what mankind was capable of doing to an entire race. Ravensbrück showed what mankind was capable of doing to women. The nature and scale of atrocity done here to women had never been seen before. Ravensbrück should never have had to fight ‘on the margins’ for a voice: it was -and is- a story in its own right.

For decades the story of Ravensbrück was hidden behind the Iron Curtain, and today it is still little known. Using testimony unearthed since the end of the Cold War and interviews with survivors who have never talked before, Sarah Helm has ventured into the heart of the camp, demonstrating for the reader in riveting detail how easily and quickly the unthinkable horror evolved.

Far more than a catalogue of atrocities, however, Ravensbrück is also a compelling account of what one survivor called “the heroism, superhuman tenacity, and exceptional willpower to survive.” For every prisoner whose strength failed, another found the will to resist through acts of self-sacrifice and friendship, as well as sabotage, protest, and escape. Taken from Goodreads.

Seriously, I am not okay at all.

For someone who claimed to have an interest in world war II, I have to admit I never heard of Ravensbrück. From a lot of documentaries about Nazi’s concentration camp that I’ve watched, I also never heard of Ravensbrück.

I thought this book was going to be a complete narrative of what Ravensbrück is, from its history to its prisoners. I didn’t expect to be moved by the struggles, the fight, the conviction, and the survival stories of the women of Ravensbrück. This was so much more than just a history of Ravensbrück, this is also the story of its women. This is a story about how the women of Ravensbrück fight their way through horror to end up always fighting until the end of their lives.

It was unfair for them to be in Ravensbrück, and it is still unfair that even after being liberated they were still fighting for survival; if not for their life and dignity, then for their rights to be heard as they are as much a victim as the rest of the other prisoners from other concentration camp.

I am not okay because I am in pain, I am in agony, I am angry, and I am frustrated for the many injustice that these women go through. Even in 2017, the fact that Ravensbrück is still known so little is not fair. People need to be aware of the atrocities that these women go through; if not for the atrocities that they go through, then for their hard work and their constant battle for survival in order for the world to know that Ravensbrück exist and it is as horrible as the other camp.

The book was written with such intimate details and voice that you felt like you were with the survivor themselves, listening to them going through the details of what life was like in Ravensbrück as if you are there with them, going through the same horror.

Although this book was incredibly thick (this was definitely the longest book I’ve read in 2017), I didn’t find it troublesome for the writing was enjoyable and detailed. So much details were put into the writing that at times it can feel a bit traumatic for me.

Uhhh… YES!

Why wouldn’t I? I seriously think more people should know about Ravensbrück and that it exist together with other camps, such as Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen; that Ravensbrück is not on the margin of history.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women

Author: Sarah Helm

Genre: History, Non fiction, War

Goodreads link

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