Birth, Sex and Abuse: Women’s Voices Under Nazi Rule
By Beverley Chalmers
Beverley Chalmers writes:
I have dedicated my life to studying women’s experiences of pregnancy, birth and the early months of parenthood in industrialized parts of the world as well as in more difficult social, political, religious, and economic circumstances.. All of these settings reveal challenging circumstances ranging from political and economic repression in Apartheid South Africa, and in the former Soviet Union, religiously inspired cruelty of female genital mutilation, and over-medicalization of birth in the technologically developed world. None of these, however, comes anywhere close to matching the horrors experienced by those whom the Nazi regime targeted for reproductive and sexual manipulation, and, in the case of Jewish women and babies, extermination.
My new book: Birth, Sex and Abuse: Women’s Voices Under Nazi Rule (Grosvenor House Publishers, UK, 2015) is a fascinating and gripping examination of birth, sex and abuse during the Nazi era. The book views the Holocaust through a unique lens providing a stunning and controversial exposé of the voices of both Jewish and non-Jewish women living under Nazi rule. Based on twelve years of study, the book reveals how the Nazis targeted childbearing and sexuality among Jewish women to prevent them from having children. The literature on the Holocaust gives exhaustive attention to ‘direct’ means of exterminating Jews. The manipulation of reproductive lives – as a less ‘direct’ method of genocide – has not yet received the same exhaustive attention. In contrast, the Nazis encouraged women meeting their desired ‘racial’ standards to reproduce as prolifically as possible. Drawing directly from women’s own voices expressed in diaries, memoirs and testimonies, the book provides a unique, cutting-edge examination of what women themselves said, thought and did in response to these actions.
This controversial approach takes an inter-disciplinary view of women’s experiences of childbearing and sexuality. It incorporates women’s history, Holocaust studies, social sciences and medicine.
Prof. Dr. Miriam Gillis-Carlebach, (Director, The Joseph Carlebach Institute, Bar-Ilan University, Israel) says:
“This book should be a ‘must’ for everybody dealing with the cruel chapters of the Holocaust, especially for those who are dealing with research about the subject of women and children, and medicine, during the Shoah.”
Prof. Caroline Pukall, (PhD, Professor of Psychology, Director of SexLab and the Sex Therapy Service, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada) writes:
“This book has an utterly unique, in-depth focus on all aspects of sexuality and reproduction during the Nazi regime; the author has written the first-ever, comprehensive tome on the treatment of women and infants that is essential for many disciplines.”
The book is available in both print and e-book format and can be purchased through Amazon websites including:
Beverley Chalmers (DSc(Med) PhD) is an Adjunct Full Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Ottawa, and an Affiliate Investigator in the Ottawa Health Research Unit, Ontario, Canada. She is the author of a number of books relating to women’s experiences of giving birth in difficult circumstances including ’African Birth: Women in Cultural Transition’ and ‘Female Genital Mutilation and Obstetric Care. Her forthcoming book on the challenges facing women giving birth in technologically sophisticated societies is forthcoming as ‘Family-Centered Care: Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum’. She has over 270 publications in the field of perinatal health, and has given over 440 presentations, world-wide, on this subject.
Copyright Judy Cohen, 2015