The experiences of women in the camp were diverse and varied depending on a number of factors. Women who were selected to be prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau faced multiple forms of abuse, including forced labor, medical experiments conducted by Josef Mengele and his staff, sexual assault, and general neglect. In addition to these abuses, women often suffered from unsanitary living conditions as well as malnutrition (Silverman & Orsini, 2018). As a result of these harsh conditions many women did not survive their time at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Pregnancy was particularly difficult for women in the camp due to the extreme physical demands placed on them. The majority of pregnant women had been sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau from slave labor camps where they had worked long hours with little food or rest (Rudolph & Hegerová , 2017). This resulted in many pregnant women being too weak to give birth safely and often resulted in miscarriages during transport or shortly after arriving at the camp. For those fortunate enough to survive childbirth the odds were still stacked against them; newborn infants were often taken away from their mothers and either put up for adoption outside of the camp or killed immediately if found ‘unfit’ by Mengele’s team (Friedman et al., 2018).
How did women’s experiences vary in the camp, and what was the impact of pregnancy on prisoners in the camp among Mengele’s victims
Mengele also conducted a series of scientific experiments specifically targeting pregnant prisoners which included deliberately inducing premature labor or studying pregnancies that resulted from rape within the camp (Shtobbe & Friedmann-Litai , 2019). There are reports that suggest that some children born in concentration camps due to sexual assault may have survived but this is yet unconfirmed (Raghavan 2009). It has been estimated that less than 1% of all children born within Nazi concentration camps survived infancy due largely in part because mothers lacked access to proper nutrition and medical care while pregnant which resulted in severe health problems for both mother and child (Friedman et al., 2018 ).
In addition, it is important to consider how gender roles within society impacted female prisoners during WWII. At this time there was an emphasis placed on femininity which served only further exacerbated existing discrimination against female prisoners who had limited access resources such as clothing choices or sanitation products when compared with male inmates(Garland Thompson 2015). This can be seen through accounts given by survivors such as Raya Schatzberg who expressed her inability “to take care [of] her looks… [as] forbidden luxuries like soap could no longer be obtained”(Schatzberg 2011 p 14) . These discriminatory practices created additional hardships for female inmates leading them vulnerable emotionally as well stuck dealing with numerous physical ailments caused by starvation and exhaustion..
Overall it appears clear that pregnancy amongst inmates at Auschwitz Birkenau served only serve add more pain suffering upon already desperate situation . Not only did poor living condition lead high levels infant mortality rate but extra risk posed undue hardship upon young mothers struggling cope with daily demands prison life . Without access basic necessities countless individuals perished due neglectful environment perpetuated Nazi regime ultimately leaving lasting impact generation come .