Grazyna Chrostowska
Born in Lublin on 10-21-1921, Grazyna Chrostowska joins the Polish underground organization KOP as a student and secretly distributes the illegal magazine "Polska Zyje" (Poland Lives). She is arrested while accompanying her father on a visit to her older sister Apolonia imprisoned at the Gestapo post "Pod zegarem." In September of 1941 they are both deported to Ravensbrück. Together with her sister Apolonia and eleven other Polish women, she is killed by an execution squad in Ravensbrück on 4-18-1942. Her poems have remained because she turned them over to her friend Nina Iwanicka shortly before her execution. Her friend memorized them out of a fear of being discovered, and later on in France published them in French.

Katarina Miklavova
All that is currently known about Katarina Miklavova is that she was born in Haderlap (Eisenkappel), Slovenia and died in Ravensbrück on 7-1-1944. Her poem "Zima 1944" ("Winter 1944") has been preserved.

Katja Spurova
Katja Spurova, born in Gornji Krapju in 1908, comes from a Slovenian family of day workers who travel from farm to farm. She studies at various schools, later universities, receives her diploma as a Slavonicist at the philosophical faculty in Ljubljana in 1936 and works as a journalist in the years following. On account of her participation in the Slovenian Battle for the Liberation of the People, Katja Spurova is arrested and displaced to Ravensbrück in January of 1944, then to the satellite camp Barth on the Baltic Sea where she must perform forced labor in the Heinkel airplane factories. She experiences liberation and is able to return home. Alongside the resumption of her journalistic work, with special involvement in human rights, she also works at the Ministry of Agriculture. She concerns herself with the question of a socialist structure. Over the years she publishes several works, predominantly poetry.
In the lamenting dialogue with one's own emotional situation, the fear of death is given a name. By naming the fear, it becomes possible to capture it in the poetic form. The verbal exchange that occurs in writing poetry has immediate therapeutic value, for the self comes into direct contact with itself and searchs for creative forms of self-description. The real situation, of course, could not be altered.
In poetic speak, a longing that is still alive finds its place of expression. The closed form of the poem preserves the desire for escape as if in a "vessel." It helps in naming as well as overcoming the inner state of deadly paralysis in that the invoking search for a vis-à-vis is not abandoned.

Constanze Jaiser

Voices from Ravensbrück   © Pat Binder