Remembering the Holocaust: Voices of Survivors

Program Overview

Black and white photo of a woman and children sitting on either side of a chainlink fence, one boy wearing a star of David on his back

Lodz, Poland, Women and children on either side of a chain link fence in the ghetto. All rights reserved. Used with permission of Yad Veshem.

Boston College in collaboration with the International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem, invites you to a three-day virtual seminar on remembering the experiences of women and children during the Holocaust. Each day consists of a lecture followed by small group conversation for further reflection. Online resources are also available throughout the seminar.

Topics & Learning Goals

July 18 - Understanding Memory Construction

Sharon Kangisser Cohen, “Early and Later Holocaust Survivor Testimony”

In oral accounts, the context in which the telling takes place is central to understanding the construction of an individual’s story. In the case of survivors of the Holocaust the contexts include: the evolving cultural interpretations of the Holocaust, the image and role of the survivor in society, and the established tropes and narratives through which experience is communicated. This presentation is based on the testimonies of Holocaust survivors who told their stories to different collections over time, including: The VHA, USHMM, Yad Vashem, David Boder Interviews and The Central Jewish Historical Commission.

July 19 - Women’s Voices during the Holocaust 

Naama Shik, “Jewish Women in Auschwitz-Birkenau”

This lecture follows the lives of Jewish women in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp in the years 1942-1945. It focuses on the uniqueness of the female experience in this space, focusing on topics such as loss and the struggle for survival, menstruation and pregnancy, sexual exploitation, mother-daughter dynamics, relationships between female prisoners, women in the underground movement in the camp, the liberation, and so-called “return to life.”

July 20 - The Voices of Hidden Children

Carmen M. Mangion, “Inside the French Convent: Female Religious Life before the Second World War”

This lecture examines the everyday lives of women religious on the eve of the Second World War. How were religious sisters and nuns formed in their religious life? How did they live their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience? What were their relationships with those outside their religious community? Inside the convent? And with figures of authority such as the mother superior or the bishop?

Eliot Nidam-Orvieto, “Letters to and from Parents of Children Hidden in Convents and Catholic Institutions in France during the Holocaust: What Do They Tell Us?”

In France, thousands of Jews, many of them children, were helped and/or hidden by Catholic religious in their convents or in schools and charitable institutions operated by them during the Holocaust. This presentation concentrates on letters written by hidden children, particularly those from the convent of Massip near Toulouse, operated by the Sisters of the Company of Mary, Our Lady. This lecture explores  the children’s daily life experiences in this new religious setting.

Daily Schedule

  • 10:00-11:00 AM Webinar presentation
  • 11:00-11:45 AM Discussion in breakout rooms
  • 11:45 AM-12:00 PM Reconvening and sharing as a large group 

Registration: $10 registration fee.


Daily Schedule:

  • 10:00-11:00 AM Webinar presentation
  • 11:00-11:45 AM Discussion in breakout rooms
  • 11:45 AM-12:00 PM Reconvening and sharing as a large group

Registration: $10 registration fee.


This program ran Summer 2022


Sharon Kangisser Cohen

Sharon Kangisser Cohen is the editor-in-Chief of Yad Vashem Studies and the Director of the Eli and Diana Zborowski Centre for the Study of the Holocaust and its Aftermath and the Editor in Chief of Yad Vashem Studies at Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research. Sharon was the former Director of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People. She holds a Ph.D. from Hebrew University in the field of Holocaust Studies. In addition, she has been a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, New York University, The University of New South Wales, and Haifa University She has published numerous articles relating to the postwar lives of Holocaust survivors. She is currently the co-editor of the post-war diaries of child survivor Yehuda Bacon.

Naama Shik

Naama Shik received her Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University. Her field of expertise is Jewish women in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and her dissertation was written under the supervision of Prof. Shulamit Volkov. Dr. Shik has published articles on various topics related to the unique experience of Jewish women in the camps—daily life, pregnancies and births, mother-daughter relations and the return to life. She has also published articles about the differences between testimonies and autobiographical literature published immediately after the war and those created at a later stage. Dr. Shik has been working at the International School for Holocaust Studies since 1999.

Carmen M. Mangion

Carmen M. Mangion’s research examines the cultural and social history of gender and religion in nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain. She is the author of Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age, Britain 1945-1990 (2020) and Contested Identities: Catholic Women Religious in nineteenth-century England and Wales (2008) and numerous publications on gender and religion in Britain’s nineteenth-century medical marketplace. Her current research has two strands, the first examines the decline of the lay sister category of religious life. The second, examines the gendered nature of the Catholic medical missionary movement of the early twentieth century in both Britain and Ireland. She is a Senior Lecturer in the department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London.

Eliot Nidam Orvieto

Eliot Nidam Orvieto is currently the Academic Foreign Affairs Coordinator and the Academic Assistant to the Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem (Israel).  He is a Ph.D. candidate in History of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University (Israel). The topic of his thesis is: “The Hiding of Jews by Roman Catholic Religious in their Convents and Institutions in France.” He holds a MA in Contemporary Jewish History with an emphasis on the Holocaust from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). He was the Judith B. and Burton P. Resnick Invitational Scholar for the Study of Anti-Semitism Fellow at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies in 2018.



Center for Christian-Jewish Learning
Yad Veshem - International Institute for Holocaust Research
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Continuing Education