Remember Ravensbrück
May 30, 2019

Case Study – Bridging Borders Through Translation

This case study highlights the role of translations for the documentary, Saving the Rabbits of Ravensbrück; a film that tells the nearly forgotten story of a Nazi concentration camp and the incredible rescue planned by a group of international women prisoners to save 63 women who were all victims of inhumane medical experiments.

Download the case study.

A Promise

Stacey Fitzgerald, the producer, and director of the documentary is an experienced independent filmmaker with an Emmy award-winning program, A Southern Celtic Christmas. She has previously produced and directed the feature-length comedy Delivery Boy Chronicles, as well as several television commercials for nonprofit clients.

Stacey’s association with the project started nearly 20 years ago when she was visiting family at her grandmother’s place in Northwest Alabama. Her great-uncle John, told them about a women’s concentration camp his division had helped liberate. He spoke of what the women went through and how together they came out victorious. He feared, however, that with time, their story would be lost, and so he said to Stacey, “you will tell them what your great-uncle saw, with his own two eyes.” On that night, Stacey made a promise to tell the story of the women of Ravensbrück.

Today, with her own determination, the documentary is now well underway. Stacey conducts all the interviews of the survivors herself with a locally hired crew. She works with an interpreter for live interviews so she can communicate with the survivors. Later, she sends the content to Translate By Humans for professional translation and transcription.

History of Ravensbrück

Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Timeline


Ravensbrück was the largest women’s only concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Located 56 miles north of Berlin, it was commonly known among the inmates as “Hitler’s Hell for Women.” Since its doors opened in 1939 and until liberation in 1945, more than 130,000 women and adolescents from over 20 nations were inmates at the camp. All the women were forced into heavy labor at nearby factories. Of all the women who passed through the camp, experts estimate approximately 50,000 died due to starvation, disease, beatings and other physical trauma, experimental surgeries, lethal injections, firing squad, and starting in January of 1945, the gas chamber.

In 1942, 74 young and healthy Polish political prisoners were chosen for some of the most horrific experiments on the pretext of advancing medical science. Around the camp, this group of women was referred to as “rabbits” because they were used as lab animals. 

The Experiments

The first set of experiments became known as the sulfonamide experiments, used to test sulfa drugs. The women were taken to a hospital where their legs were ruthlessly sliced open, sprinkled with glass, dirt, and bacteria and then sown to allow infections to develop, thereby replicating war wounds for the drugs to be tested on. The doctors also carried out various surgical experiments on nerves and tissues to see what would happen when nerves, bones, and muscle were removed, often without anesthesia. Sometimes, they would even amputate entire limbs.


Hiding and Rescue

Towards the end of the war, the Nazis planned to execute all the rabbits who were living proof of the crimes they had committed against humanity. On the night before their execution, the other inmates, women of all nationalities who had lost their families and were struggling themselves to survive, conspired and came forward with great solidarity in an attempt to save the rabbits. They hid the rabbits from the guards for three months, until liberation and ensured each of them was fed and taken care of.

Ravensbrück Survivors 

Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Survivors
I received the most love and care and help, in the form of food, because I was the youngest. They often gave up their food to give it to me, so that I would survive…It was us working together, cooperating, fighting together to survive. Friendship has an amazing value.

Stanisława Śledziejowska-Osiczko


Telling the Story Through Translation

Language plays a crucial role in not only telling the triumphant story of the rabbits but also in understanding it as a filmmaker. Although an interpreter helps aid communication during interviews, creating a documentary requires a deeper understanding of the context. 

Collaboration: Stacey’s longstanding association with Translate By Humans as a language service provider stems from our deep understanding of the sensitive subject matter and the responsibility we hold towards the cause.

From translating legal content related to the documentary to the actual interviews, we’ve always delivered high-quality services resulting in a growing business relationship with Stacey.  

Process: Interviews are recorded and transcribed in the language the interviewee speaks (Polish, French, Russian) and sent to us for translation and transcription into English. Our team of carefully chosen language specialists work on the content and send them to Stacey, complete with time codes. Stacey uses the translations for her reference in understanding the interviews, editing the footage and stores them for the future creation of subtitles.  

Ever since I’ve started working with Translate By Humans, I see them not only as an LSP but as a partner in this project.

Stacey Fitzgerald

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Stacey's Challenges

  • Unable to understand, communicate and ask questions to the survivors because of previous inaccurate translations
  • Finding an affordable LSP to deliver high-quality translations while on a tight, crowd-funded budget
  • Ensuring the LSP provides a quick turnaround for translations, especially when sent from different time zones and at varying time intervals
  • Being able to trust and rely on an LSP's services without external or additional proofreading
  • Losing time in dealing with multiple service providers
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Translate By Humans' Solutions

  • Error-free translations by language specialists along with re-formatting and proofreading of previous translations for the smooth flow of interviews
  • A transparent client specific pricing model with maximum possible discounts based on volume and other considerations
  • Delivery of work on or before the promised completion date regardless of when the order is placed
  • A strong focus on quality - language specialists discuss any video related challenges with Stacey to find an appropriate solution
  • A dedicated project manager works directly with Stacey for all her translation orders

About Translate By Humans

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Ruju Patel

Ruju Patel

Ruju Patel leads the Content and Design Team at Translate By Humans. She has a background in Psychology and Business and former experience as an HR professional. She is a people's person and a pro at drafting contracts, policies, and articles. Her creative edge helps give life to all the written and graphic content produced by the company.

When she's not writing, you'll find her reading with her cats or combining her love for food and culture by traveling around the world!

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