21 May 2015, The Tablet

If This is a Woman: inside Ravensbrück, Hitler’s concentration camp for women

by Sarah Helm, reviewed by Ian Thomson

If this is a Woman adapts the title of Primo Levi’s memoir of Auschwitz, If This is a Man. Sarah Helm’s book is a history of Ravensbrück concentration camp, the only Nazi camp built for women. Situated north of Berlin, the camp claimed between 30,000 and 90,000 Jewish and non-Jewish lives. Levi’s friend Lidia Rolfi was deported from her native Italy to Ravensbrück in 1944, where she was set upon by dogs, starved and made to slave in a Siemens electrical plant. Her account of Ravensbrück’s women, Le donne di Ravensbrück, published in Italy in 1976, remains one of the great memorials to Hitler’s inhumanity to Jehovah’s Witnesses, prostitutes, vagrants and other “useless mouths” interned in the camp.  Helm’s exhau
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