Female Doctors and Nurses in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp with Kate Docking

Female Doctors and Nurses in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp with Kate Docking


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This talk will shed light on the stories of thirteen female doctors and nurses who worked at Ravensbrück concentration camp during Nazi Germany. It will explore their motivations for working at a concentration camp, the friendships and relationships they formed with other medical staff, and their involvement in medical atrocities such as human experimentation.

The establishment of Ravensbrück concentration camp, the only camp during Nazi Germany to exclusively hold women, prisoners, occurred in May 1939. Thirteen female medical personnel worked in the hospital there. The actions of the notorious Josef Mengele – a doctor at Auschwitz who performed medical experiments on twins – are well-known, but the stories of this female medical personnel at Ravensbrück remains little known, even though they also committed medical crimes such as assisting in human experiments, administering lethal injections and refusing care. Why were these individuals employed to work in this place of death and destruction? What motivated them to take these jobs? And what role did gender play in the ways they were perceived and the actions they performed?

In addition to investigating the atrocities for which they were responsible, this talk will also consider the women's social and private lives. Remarkably, the appalling treatment they inflicted on their victims did not prevent them from developing friendships and even romantic relationships with the male doctors who worked there. How were such normal interactions possible in this extraordinarily brutal environment? This talk will also examine the consequences of their choices, particularly concerning those who faced post-war trials and 'denazification' processes.

Led by an expert on gender and Nazi Germany, Kate Docking, this interactive seminar will explore the lives of thirteen female doctors and nurses who worked at Ravensbrück concentration camp. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an in-depth understanding of the women’s medical staff of Ravensbrück concentration camp, the Nazi concentration camp system, and Nazi medicine in general.

Kate Docking is a final year Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kent in Canterbury. She has also studied at the University of Cambridge, where she completed her Master’s degree in Modern European History. Kate is an expert on gender in Nazi Germany and has a particular interest in gender and the Nazi concentration camps. Kate’s Ph.D. thesis explores the lives of some individual female medical personnel who worked at Ravensbrück concentration camp. Kate has written an essay for the magazine History Today about the paths of some female medical personnel to Ravensbrück, and has given a variety of different talks about her research.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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