Resilience and Courage

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Women, Men, and the Holocaust

Nechama Tec

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Nechama Tec’s groundbreaking insights into the different experiences of Jewish women and men during the Holocaust

In this, Nechama Tec’s fifth book on the Holocaust, vivid individual stories blend effortlessly with detailed comparisons of wartime experiences of women and men. The result is a captivating account of how the coping strategies and the ultimate fate of each sex differed. Tec, as always, listens to the voices of the oppressed, voices that originated in wartime diaries, postwar memoirs, archival materials, and her own interviews with survivors and rescuers. Concentrating on life under extreme conditions, Tec’s research uncovers the previously overlooked significance of mutual cooperation and compassion that operated across gender lines.

Nechama Tec, professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, Stamford, was recently appointed to the President’s Council for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. One of her books, In the Lion’s Den: The Life of Oswald Rufeisen, received the 1991 Christopher Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

A main selection of the History Book Club
Nechama Tec has been appointed to the President’s Council for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

"A fine needed book."—Academic Library Book Review 

“Resilience and Courage combines the awareness of the gender dimension of history, due respect for the centrality of the victims’ Jewishness and meticulous research of primary sources. This book is a significant contribution to both the Holocaust history and gender studies. To the former it offers a disciplined application of the scholar’s duty to distinguish. Its insights into the distinctive experiences of Jewish women and men are compelling. To the latter it provides an impressive body of evidence on different yet intrinsically connected roles and plights of women and men under extreme deprivation, that is on human condition in extremis. Nechama Tec once again shows her mastery in careful listening to survivors’ voices.”—Dr. Dariusz Stola, senior research historian at the Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences 

Resilience and Courage is a milestone work in the canon of Holocaust studies. Quite simply: it is the first comprehensive study of the role and function of gender during the Holocaust years. This is a work studded with insight and imbued with compassion.”—Debórah Dwork, Rose Professor of Holocaust History

“Tec has produced a refreshingly nuanced study of the coping strategies employed by women and men during the Holocaust. Based on wide ranging and meticulous research, Tec’s remarkable book is essential reading for anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of Jewish resistance.”—Dr. Zoë Waxman, Mansfield College, Oxford

“Author of several pathbreaking works on aspects of rescue and resistance during the Holocaust, Nechama Tec expands her scope to probe broader questions of gender differences in the treatment and experiences of Jewish victims, whether in ghettos, the camps, on the Aryan side, or with the partisans in the forests of Eastern Europe. Basing her findings on wartime diaries, post-war memoirs, a variety of archival materials, and, above all, on extensive interviews with survivors, Tec emphasizes themes of bonding, social cooperation, and resilience in the face of omnipresent disaster. A stirring and informative read.”—Froma Zeitlin, Princeton University

“Nechama Tec’s Resilience and Courage is a remarkable achievement, based on a deep knowledge of the subject, profound sociological analysis, and convincing narrative style. Tec concentrates on the oppressed rather that the oppressors, and has shown that the gender division among them was primarily a result of the policy of the perpetrators and not the manifestation of conflicts within the society of the victims.”—Israel Gutman, Professor Emeritus of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem

“This book is a remarkable achievement, based on a deep knowledge of the subject, profound sociological analysis, and convincing narrative style.”—Israel Gutman, professor emeritus, Hebrew University

“Resilience and Courage crowns Nechama Tec’s earlier scholarly research on the human condition in inhuman circumstances. The author, herself a survivor, offers the most comprehensive and balanced perspective on the Holocaust as experienced by women and men in a wide range of environments. Tec is a subtle but persistent interviewer who is able to detect and convey to us all possible nuances of meaning in testimonies and recollections given in various languages.”—Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, Head of the Center for Jewish Studies, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland, coeditor of Contemporary Jewish Writing in Poland: An Anthology 

"Aided by her knowledge of many of the key languages of Holocaust survivors, Tec has produced the best and most comprehensive gender analysis of Jewish Holocaust survivors and resisters to date."—Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild, Women’s Review of Books

“In Resilience and Courage, Holocaust survivor and sociologist Nechama Tec compares the coping strategies women and men used in confronting Nazi terror. Yet another exemplary work by Tec.”—Sheldon Kirshner, Canadian Jewish News

“In her important work, Tec . . . contributes to our understanding of how Jewish men and women responded to the dire circumstances in Nazi-occupied Europe. . . . Tec relates these experiences along gender lines.”—Jack Fischel, Hadassah Magazine

"A welcome addition to the small but growing collection of analyses of gender and women's experiences during the Holocaust. . . . Tec's skillful interview techniques and ability to smoothly interweave narratives and historical background result in a book with both human warmth and contextual accuracy. . . . Tec's writing combines the analytical skills of a trained sociologist with her personal experience of living through the Holocaust."—Rochelle G. Saidel, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

“Drawing upon the fruits of her methodological approach, Tec offers compelling evidence that gender-related analyses add significantly to our understanding of Jewish experiences during the Holocaust. Not only do these analyses illuminate the ruthless intent of ‘German anti-Jewish measures;’ but they also highlight the diverse experiences of Jews who participated in one of the many modes of Jewish resistance.”—Jewish Book World

“An impressive achievement.”—Jewish Currents

“Through her intrepid interviewing process, Tec has culled a wealth of anecdotes in support of her thesis. Many of these stories are heartbreaking, but many are also stirring and uplifting.”—Jewish Exponent

“This landmark book draws on published and unpublished memoirs and diaries, as well as Tec’s insightful interviews, giving form and context to a wide range of first-person accounts. In exploring and contrasting the experiences of women and men, Tec has given us anew lens for understanding the lives of victims and survivors.”—Bonny V. Fetterman, Na’amat Woman

“Revealing and eminently readable to both the general reader and the scholar, Resilience and Courage: Women, Men and the Holocaust is essential reading for both because it is riveting and broadly informative.”—Jane Lunin Perel, Providence: Studies in Western Civilization

"[Tec’s] amazing skill as an interviewer and accomplished ability to analyze this raw material in a historical context makes this a significant addition to the field. . . . While this is a work of powerful emotionality, it is also a groundbreaking study of how gender is inexplicably bound to history and experience."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This landmark study draws on published and unpublished memoirs and diaries as well as Tec’s insightful interviews. In exploring and contrasting the experience of women and men, Tec has given us a new lens for understanding the lives of victims and survivors.”—Reform Judaism

"Tec is able to paint a more nuanced picture of the realities of Jewish resistance than previous historians. . . . [A] remarkable and important book."—Tikkun B

“A well-written and researched example of contemporary gender exploration, using a sociological framework in order also to impart a historical account. The fact that the author is also a survivor has added—and not subtracted—from the level of scholarship shown in this study. Her empathy and personal experiences have enabled her to reach interviewees who have opened up to her in ways that they might not have to other researchers. The hidden depths that she has tapped in them have undoubtedly enriched our knowledge of Holocaust experience.”—Judith Tydor Baumel, Yad Vashem Studies

"This book is magnificent proof that a sensitive investigation of gender issues does not lead to trivialization and distortion in the service of some presumed agenda but rather to a much deeper encounter with the lived experience of the victims—both men and women—of this devastating and catastrophic event."—Christopher R. Browning, Frank Porter Graham Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Winner of the 2002-2003 National Jewish Book Award given by the Jewish Book Council in the Holocaust category
ISBN: 9780300105193
Publication Date: August 11, 2004
448 pages, 6 x 9