Group Show Can We Talk About Rape In The Holocaust Yet?

The Forward Apr 22, 2018

They used to tell young Orthodox Jewish girls a story – they may still – about 93 Bais Yaakov girls who were selected by the Nazis to be their sex slaves and put in an apartment full of beds. And when the Nazis arrived to claim their plunder, they found 93 corpses. 93 Bais Yaakov girls had chosen death rather than sexual violation; their teacher had provided them with cyanide.

The story isn’t true; some enterprising academics cast doubt on the letter on which it’s based. And yet this macabre myth, which so eloquently clothed the Holocaust in a “seductive aura of female martyrdom,” as Berkeley professor of Jewish culture Naomi Seidman put it, is the closest anyone ever came to speaking of rape in the Holocaust when I was growing up.

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