Voices in the Shadows
Women Survivors and the Holocaust

A Photographic Memoir


One may be able to obtain a unique perspective on the Holocaust by reflecting on women's lives and understanding their experiences. The testimony of survivors and the evidence of certain feminist scholars suggest that the ways of resisting and surviving are differentiated by gender; including survival capabilities, work, roles and relationships.

French author, Charlotte Delbo, who was incarcerated in Auschwitz from 1943-1945, spoke of women bonding with each other through simple acts of relationship and that this contributed to women's survival.

Literature has indicated that women survivors were able to recreate family structures and so provide networks of survival: while in hiding, on death marches, in concentration camps, in forced labor camps, wherever people gathered.

Dr. Maltese's research focused on the memories of eleven women survivors within these networks. A word, a gesture, a smile for example, so simple in action could empower a woman to rise above the moment's horror and choose to live - drawing strength - from these simple acts of relationship.

Each audio testimony was transcribed into a thirty page minimum text. Based on these memories, Dr. Esther Denaro Maltese created a photographic/textual work.

"I lived with my Father and my stepmother in France. I was very angry because I had to become the adult instead of being the child. I wanted to play with other children. I wanted to go to school. Instead, I had to be the head of the household. My stepmother had escaped from Vienna and she couldn't speak a word of French. She was afraid to go out of the house. My father was afraid to go out because he was a Jew. So I had to do everything.

One day, there was a terrible fight between my father and my stepmother. I was afraid to go back into the house. I was afraid of my father. That night, I heard him call me and say something like, 'I'm sorry and I want to say good-bye to you,' and my stepmother kept on crying. The next morning I found him hanging. He had committed suicide. When my father died I was thirteen."

Jeannine Korman

Holocaust Survivors

Sonia Kastner

The Late Anna Suss Paull

The Exhibit

Since it's opening on September 24, 1997, Voices in the Shadows: Women Survivors and the Holocaust, has received wide acclaim in schools (middle school through high school), colleges and universities, churches, synagogues, religious schools, workshops, international conferences and community organizations.

The exhibit was featured in the 11/13/98, Volume XLV, Number 12, Chronicle of Higher Education, End Paper.

Presentation topics are tailored to the age and cognitive level of the participants.
Maximum length for each interactive presentation is ninety minutes; however, a sequential series of presentations can be collaboratively designed.

The exhibit dimensions:

  • 12-14 black and white photographs 12.5 x 19.4" x 11" - mounted on 1/2" foam core.
  • The text to accompany each photograph (14 pieces) 8.5" x 14" - mounted on 1/2" foam core.

Exhibit Testimonials

"This is the most incredible, warm, compassionate exhibit of women survivors of the Holocaust that I have seen in many years. Outstanding! Must see program!"

Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff
Education Chair, Holocaust Memorial
Miami Beach, Florida

"Voices in the Shadows is a very moving exhibit that draws the viewer into the lives of these very real women. It is a poignant portrayal of women who survived the Holocaust and the vibrant people they are in today's world. This exhibit is an important look into humankind and makes a tremendous impact on the viewer."

Sylvia Wygoda
Chairman Emeritus and Executive Director
Georgia Commission on the Holocaust


For information on bringing this exhibit to your community, institution, conference or organization, please contact Dr. Esther Denaro Maltese, Curator: emaltese@frontiernet.net