Narratives of Resistance, Moral Compromise, and Perpetration: The Testimonies of Julia Brichta, Survivor of Ravensbrück

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Julia Brichta, a Jewish-Hungarian refugee, came to the Channel Island of Guernsey in 1939, a year before the arrival of German occupying forces. The story of what happened to her during the war, when she was sent to Ravensbrück, was given in her own words on a number of occasions between 1945 and 1965, yet the specifics of her trajectory towards Ravensbrück, where she became a camp policewoman, have hitherto been unclear. This paper attempts to untangle the evidence to establish some of the facts behind this ‘grey zone’ survivor of the Holocaust based on the surviving archival documents. It examines Julia’s trajectory towards Ravensbrück, and the ways in which her pre-camp and camp life impacted the ways in which she narrated her story between 1945 and 1965. Whether she was a non-Jewish resistance heroine, or a Jewish perpetrator who lied about her wartime activities, this paper argues that such judgements, in the end, are simplistic and mask the complexity of survivor stories. Instead, seeking to understand changes in testimony over time based on pre-camp and camp experiences and audience offer a more fruitful path of analysis.

4303 Historical Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology
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Journal of Holocaust Research
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Informa UK Limited
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Stiftung Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft (EVZ) (3251B0700490)
parts of this work were supported by the Stiftung Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft grant number 80247