MILWAUKEE (AP) — Gerda Lerner spent her 18th birthday in a Nazi prison, sharing a cell with two gentile women arrested for political work who shared their food with the Jewish teen.

Lerner would say later that the women taught her how to survive and the experience taught her how society can manipulate people. It was a lesson that the women’s history pioneer, who died Wednesday at age 92, said she saw reinforced in American academia by history professors who taught as though only the men were worth studying.

“When I was faced with noticing that half the population has no history and I was told that that’s normal, I was able to resist the pressure” to accept that conclusion, Lerner said in 2002.