Regina Jonas is the subject of the documentary The First Woman Rabbi, which was screened last Thursday at the Asia Society. Born to a poor Orthodox Jewish family in Berlin, Germany, Jonas made history in 1935 when she, as the film title suggests, became a rabbi. In 1942, Jonas and her mother were deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she continued to preach. In late 1944, the two women were sent to Auschwitz and likely killed the same day. Between 1940 and 1943, Auschwitz was commanded by German SS Lieutenant Colonel Rudolf Hoss …

Hoss (not to be confused with the Nazi politician Rudolf Hess) was the longest serving commander of Auschwitz. After his capture in 1946 by British troops, he was ordered to write an autobiography, in which he admitted "the reasons behind the extermination programme seemed, to me, right". Testifying at the Nuremberg trials, Hoss - who had added a cyanide-laced pesticide to the killing process, allowing soldiers to murder thousands of Jews at a time - confessed to murdering 2.5 million people. He was hanged at Auschwitz in 1947. The military trials were analysed in the 2000 book Stay the Hand of Vengeance, by historian Gary Bass …

A Harvard graduate, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University and "humanitarian hawk", Bass tried his hand at journalism, as a reporter for The Economist, before settling on academia. In 2013, he penned Pulitzer Prize finalist The Blood Telegram, which tells "the terrible and little-known story of the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, and of the sordid and disgraceful White House diplomacy that attended it". In it, he gives a damning account of the United States' former national-security adviser Henry Kissinger …

Heinz, as Kissinger was called before his family moved from Bavaria in 1938 to escape Hitler's Germany, arrived in the US aged 15 and changed his name to Henry. Since then, the now 92-year-old former US secretary of state and national security adviser has been described as everything from a "diplomatic colossus" to "war criminal". In 1973, he was the controversial recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a ceasefire in Vietnam. Nine years earlier, another man was awarded the same honour: Martin Luther King …

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, as a schoolboy King was not a great orator: he got a C in public speaking during his first year at seminary school. In 1963, however, he delivered the famous "I Have A Dream" speech, which helped pave the way towards America's Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. A prolific writer, Strength to Love, a book of his meditative and sermonic musings, some of which were composed in jails, has been taught as part of a course on modern religious thought by Katharina von Kellenbach …

A professor of religious studies at St Mary's College of Maryland, German-born von Kellenbach was 13 when she discovered that her uncle, a former deputy governor in Poland during the second world war, was accused of killing 30,000 Jews. In 1991, soon after the reunification of Germany, she travelled to the former East Germany to research attitudes towards female ordination in 1930s Germany. During her trip she discovered, and subsequently revived interest in, the life and work of a prominent woman during this period: Regina Jonas.