Between Life and Death: Pregnant Women in the Nazi Concentration Camps

Streaming Media

Project Type

Oral Presentation

Publication Date


Department or Program

History and American Studies


College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor #1

Harris, Steven


During WWII, 1.3 million people were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau; 1.1 million died there. This notorious death camp was just one part of the intricate system the Nazis created to exterminate the enemies of the Third Reich. After the liberation of the camps by the Allies at the end of the war, historians have deconstructed what life was like in the camps based on the personal testimonies of adult survivors and the accounts of the children imprisoned. Though many aspects of life in the camps and the conditions of the prisoners have been examined, few historians have focused on the experiences of pregnant women in the concentration camps for the tragic reason that very few of these women survived their ordeal. While this was the reality for the majority of the women, not all pregnant women were selected to die. The Nazis were not in the position to immediately exterminate all their enemies and had to instead create a system that organized their killing into stages where life and death were selected based on certain criteria. Throughout my research paper, I hope to explore and answer the following question: what were the determining factors that sentenced pregnant women to either life or death during the selection processes in the Nazi concentration camps?