by Rob Peeler Aug 23, 2016
Aviva Doery is a third-year Paterno Fellow studying International Politics and Global and International Studies in the Schreyer Honors College. She spent the Spring semester of her sophomore year studying abroad in Germany and will return to conduct research for her thesis this summer. On campus, Aviva is an active member of the THON community through her participation as a dancer relations committee member. She is also very musical and has recently joined Savoir Faire, Penn State's original all-female a cappella group,
Doery will be travelling to Berlin this summer to research on the lives of women in the LGBT community of Berlin before and during the Holocaust (1933-1945). When the NSDAP came to power in 1933, the Nazis began to target non-political opponents such as the LGBT community. Men labeled as ‘gay’ were sent to concentration camps so as to cleanse Aryan society. However, many women were not considered by the Nazis to be a threat due to their gender. As she began to research this topic, she was shocked by the lack of scholarship surrounding LGBT women during World War II. When testimonies of the Holocaust were recorded in the 1960’s and 70’s many LGBT survivors were too embarrassed by their identities to share their experiences. As attitudes towards the LGBT community have progressed, significant work on male LGBT survivors has been done. However, there is an incredible hole where the female narrative of LGBT survivors should be. Doery is driven to this topic because she believes that by studying how the victims of the Holocaust lived, we can honor their memories rather than focus only on how they died. She hopes that her research will not only have an impact on her education and the education of her peers but on the education of Holocaust and Genocide studies as a field. With aid from the Rock Ethics Institute, Doery is excited to further understand the lives of women in the Berlin LGBT community before and during the Holocaust.