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Talk:Charlotte Delbo

From Women in European History


Peer Review by Robert Qian


1. Your thesis appears to be twofold; first, it analyzes the ways in which prisoners at Auschwitz struggled to retain their humanity in the middle of the Nazi concentration camp system. Second, it emphasizes the difficulties for survivors to return to their old homes and reintegrate with regular society. This is not immediately clear initially from the introduction and is deduced more by reading through the article. Stating the importance of Charlotte Dalbo's experiences right off the bat would be a good way to start.

2. The second thesis is interesting. However, I'm not sure if the first thesis passes the 'so what' test, since it appears to be fairly obvious that prisoners struggled daily against the Nazi system and many attempted to retain their humanity - try and do some more in-depth exploration, specifically about in what ways the prisoners reacted against this dehumanization. Essentially, what little methods of protest - however insignificant - did they use to attempt survive both physically and mentally?

3. Again, it's important to state the thesis outright in a introduction. (much like they do on normal wikipedia articles on famous people) Describe her significance and how her memoirs reveal interesting methods by which humans act under pressure.


4. Organization was largely logical and in chronological order - the first and last sections are largely descriptive of her life while the middle part contains the main arguments that you're making, which is excellent. What I do recommend is moving a part from the "none of us will return" section to the Auschwitz section - the quotation seems to pertain more to the state of the prisoners in Auschwitz rather than her writing the book.

5. You can't go wrong with doing it in chronological order, so you're good on that one!

6. While the first and last sections are descriptive this can't really be avoided, since it's necessary to get background information on Dalbo to understand the thesis. I recommend that you find ways to contrast these calm periods with her stay in the concentration camp to strengthen your thesis - for example, documenting on how she acts as a human being in a relatively carefree pre-war situation compared to inside Auschwitz can really demonstrate how humans can change when put into different situations. You're already doing that in her post-war situation, so that's great. In particular, the part where the French women were signing their anthem upon arrival in Auschwitz was very interesting, and I think you can elaborate on the significance of that or contrast their outward exuberance with the camp mood and later events.

Citations and Evidence:

1. Since you're probably still struggling on trying to format the references, the wikipedia cheat sheet on referencing is a good way to start: [1]

2. I don't know directly what's referenced, but from your bibliography it appears you've used a good balance between primary and secondary sources. In your section on gender relations, I would probably be a bit more specific about which sociologist stated those arguments specifically rather than generalizing.

Grammar and Style:

9. There are plenty of grammatical errors and sections where the writing just seems awkward - I've tried listing some below, but there are a lot of sections that require some editing. Try reading the wiki several times just to see if the text flows properly.

10. You have a clear distinction between narrative and argumentative paragraphs, though in some I had to burrow deeper to understand what the significance was. what I do in my argumentative paragraphs to make reading easier is to follow a point-->evidence-->analysis format.(whats the point you're trying to make, what's the evidence, analyze how this proves your point) Lastly, try to remain in a single tense (usually past)for most of the content without wavering between present and past tense.

11. See above. Also, in the After Auschwitz section you can probably add in a few reactions by citizens who did not go to camps and the difficulties in reintegration to prove your point further.


12. Charlotte Delbo's entire life is definitely well-represented in this wiki. However, I think you can create a better flow in the Auschwitz years - it seems that it ends rather abruptly in 1945 when the Red Cross arrives (why/how did they suddenly free the prisoners from a concentration camp? Where were the guards?)Perhaps writing it in a slight chronological format would be good - especially in that you can contrast social and behavioral differences from inmates early in the camp's existence compared to even greater horrors that were present late.

13. There was probably a bit too much summary of her life and what she wrote. Exploring her written work by adding more of your own analysis can be an excellent thing to add - in particular, it's good to visualize your subject as a flawed and biased person: her writing will likely reflect this and reveal unfair criticism. For example, my subject writes herself as a friendly and nice person - but certain disdainful comments she makes about another social group (perhaps unfairly) demonstrates that even she has her own prejudices.

Specific Suggestions:

1. Proofread and make grammatical changes! Right now your wiki doesn't flow smoothly from one sentence to another!

2. Explain why things matter. Why did she not continue writing her book, and why did she pick it up again after 20 years? What changed? did she come to terms with her imprisonment? I think that this probably reveals that it's possible to move on with one's life, but there is always a dark undercurrent which draws one back to being a camp.

3. Integrate the arguments with the narrative a bit more, especially in her earlier life. How did her earlier involvement in communism shape her when she interacted with the Nazis? How did important events in her life prepare her for her stay in a concentration camp?

Overall, I think with a bit of editing and further exploration of the main arguments that this can be a very good biography.

Some minor grammatical edits and recommendations:

-- an organization focused on educating people on the ideas of communism and working to spread the idea throughout France. - this sounds rather awkward

-- Clarify what the Sorbonne is!

-- was in Buenos Aires, Argentina when, in 194, - Remove the comma

-- Marshall Philippe Pétan - should be Pétain

-- her reason for leaving was because she “can’t stand being safe while others are put to death. I won’t be able to look anyone in the eye.” - past/present tense mix-up here with the paraphrasing

-- who was already active, in the resistance movement. - commas!

-- This somewhat superficial claim to “good spirits” ads an interesting element to their story - should be adds


1. It is good that you identify in your biography Delbo's intention in writing her story of the accounts in Auschwitz, then use this same overall goal or theme to guide your biography of Delbo. It provides good structure to your writing and gives your biography meaning.

2. Another key thing you have done to strengthen your biography is not only identify facts and regurgitate information, but using factual evidence, you suggest the implications such experiences had on Delbo's mindset, and how these occurrences alter her as a person. For instance, you do not just state that she returned to France; you include how this return was difficult for Delbo.

3. As Robert said you can't go wrong with chronological order.

4. I would SUGGEST that you include a bit more information about the general history of her accounts. For instance if you talked about the goals and aims of the French Young Women's Communist League in 1932 and how their goals related to Delbo's life or personal mission it would help the reader connect Delbo's actions to larger social issues and provide a greater historical account.

5. Your section on the distinction between men and women in the Auschwitz seems to be interesting and very controversial. However, I was not completely sure of the argument you were making. I think when you are editing your paper you should be sure to tell the reader exactly why some people believe there was a gender distinction (besides the separation of sex). Expound on this claim and make it very clear that you are providing evidence of this distinction. Then, provide similar evidence for the lack of distinction. THIS PARAGRAPH WAS VERY INTERESTING BUT YOU MUST REALLY ORGANIZE THE PARAGRAPH SO YOUR POINT IS EXPRESSED CLEARLY. I DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO MISS IT.

6. I wouldn't say you had too much content of Delbo's life, but I would say that the areas where you were able to provide analysis of her situation and the accounts of her life were the best. You should definitely re-read your biography to add such analysis in the portions where your information is more factual.

7. I mentioned this a bit in #4, but I believe it is of major importance that you make the reader understand the significance of her life as it relates to her historical period. Individuals with prior knowledge may be able to do so from this draft alone, but it could only strengthen your wiki to make those implications in the writing itself.

-a few grammatical changes-

1. , a culture who (that) she had lost a connection to and finding herself after a horror that had taken almost everything.

2. so Delbo was forced to continuing (continue) living and simply add to her story,

---Overall, I enjoyed reading your wiki. As a first draft you are off to a very good start. Your paper helped me to understand the greater goal of the wiki project and how to accomplish giving not only a historical account, but making analytical suggestions and claims that relate a person's life to the historical period in which they live.

-Krystle Frazier

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This page has been accessed 5,235 times. This page was last modified on 12 May 2010, at 11:40.


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