Launch at Mansion House of Women War and Peace Book 

Women’s Stories of WWII

Smashing Times Theatre Company are delighted to announce that human rights activist Mary Lawlor will launch the Women War and Peacedigital book containing 23 stories of women’s experiences during World War II, collected from Ireland, Spain, Germany and Poland, with a foreword by Marian Harkin, MEP.  The launch takes place on Tuesday, 8 November 2016, at the Oak Room, The Mansion House, 2 Dawson Street, Dublin 2 from 6 to 8pm and all are welcome to attend. Also speaking at the launch are Cllr Rebecca Moynihan, Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin and Mary Moynihan, Artistic Director, Smashing Times Theatre Company and Lecturer, BA in Drama (Performance), Conservatory of Music and Drama, DIT. The MC for the evening is Freda Manweiler, Company Manager, Smashing Times Theatre Company.

The Women War and Peace book features 23 women’s stories from WWII including women who promoted liberty and actively campaigned against Fascism and Nazism and advocated for peace. It is both a remembrance of women’s stories and experiences during World War II and a promotion of human rights, gender equality and peace today.

Women’s stories include Ettie Steinberg (1914-42) the only female Jewish Irish citizen known to have been murdered in Auschwitz; Margaret Skinnider (1893-1971) a revolutionary feminist and maths teacher who came to Dublin from Scotland at the age of 23 to fight in the 1916 Easter Rising and who remained in Ireland and campaigned for women’s rights in the trade union movement from the 1930s onwards; Mary Elmes (1908-2002), a Cork woman who was the first Irish person honoured as ‘Righteous Among Nations’ for her work saving Jewish children from the Nazi gas chambers during World War II; Marta Hillers from Germany who wrote her autobiography Eine Frau in Berlin (A Woman in Berlin) under the name ‘Anonyma’ (Anonymous), detailing her experiences of the last days of WWII as she and over one million other women were raped and abused by Allied soldiers of the Red Army; Neus Català Pallejà from Spain, a member of the United Socialist Party of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, an active collaborator with the French Resistance during WWII and the only living Spanish survivor of Ravensbrück  concentration camp for women; Maria Eugenia Jasińska from Łódź in Poland who worked for the resistance and gave up her own life rather than ‘name names’; and Dolores Ibarurri or La Pasionaria (1895-1989), from Spain, a revolutionary leader, political activist, Communist and crusader against Fascism during the Spanish Civil War who created the famous cry ‘They Shall Not Pass’.

The 23 women’s stories contained in the book are Mary Elmes, Ettie Steinberg, Margaret Skinnider, Josephine Alexandra Mitchell, Dorothy Macardle, Louise Graham née Boyle, Mary Fleming and Aileen Turner from Ireland; Federica Montseny Mañe, Pilar Tendillo Haro, Rosa Estruch Espinos, Neus Català Pallejà and Dolores Ibárruri, La Pasionaria from Spain; Anna Seghers, Esther Bauer, Sophie Scholl, Marta Hillers andGertrud Pötzinger from Germany; and Alina Szapocznikow, Maria Eugenia Jasińska, Homeless women in Łódź during WWII, Regina (Inka) Milichtajch and Johanna Majewska from Poland.

In addition to guest speakers, the launch features a performance of Mary Elmes performed by Róisín Mc Atamney and a clip from an original art film Tell Them Our Names currently being distributed to festivals worldwide. The performance and film were inspired by a selection of the women’s stories featured in the Women War and Peace book. The screenplay for the short film was written by Mary Moynihan, Paul Kennedy and Fiona Bawn Thompson from a devising process with the actors Raymond Keane, Fiona Bawn Thompson, Romana Testasecca, Margaret Toomey, Ella Brady and Mary Moynihan. The film features re-imagined moments from the lives of powerful women during WWII and the women are Marta Hillers, Germany, Mary Elmes, Ireland, Maria Eugenia Jasińska from Łódź in Poland; Neus Català Pallejà  and Dolores IbarurriLa Pasionaria, from Spain.

The book is produced as part of Women War and Peace, an innovative year-long transnational project with four European partners from Ireland, Spain, Germany and Poland. The project uses creative processes of theatre and film to promote a remembrance of European history with a focus on women’s stories and experiences from World War II and ways to promote peace, gender equality and diversity today. The project is co-funded by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Reconciliation Fund and the four European partners are:

Mary Lawlor originally set up Front Line Defenders - the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders - in 2001, an organization that focuses on human rights defenders at risk who work non-violently for the rights of others as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The aim is to protect defenders of human rights and provide them with “round the clock” practical support so that they can continue their work to build civil and just societies. Prior to Front Line, Mary was Director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International. Mary Lawlor has a BA in Psychology and Philosophy and postgraduate degrees in Montessori Teaching and Personnel Management. In 2007, Front Line Defenders was awarded the King Baudouin International Development Prize. The following year, Mary Lawlor was awarded the Irish Life WMB Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2008. In 2011, she received the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year Special Recognition Award. In 2014 she was awarded the French insignia of Chevalier de l'Ordre national de la Légion d ́Honneur. In 2014 she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor in Laws from TCD.

Marian Harkin is an MEP, an Independent member of the European parliament representing the 15 counties of the Midlands-North-West constituency – Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan, Roscommon, Galway, Mayo, Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Louth, Laois and Offaly. She is now in her third European term following the 2014 European Election in May and previously represented Sligo/Leitrim as a TD in Dáil Éireann.

Cllr Rebecca Moynihan was elected Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin in June 2016. Rebecca is currently a Labour City Councillor for the South West Inner City area of Dublin. 

Mary Moynihan is a theatre and film artist and Artistic Director of Smashing Times Theatre Company and a Drama Lecturer on the Honours BA in Drama (Performance) at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.

Róisín Mc Atamney, Project Coordinator, Smashing Times Theatre Company,

Coleraine House, Coleraine Street, Dublin 7, Ireland.

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