Female Guards in Nazi Concentration Camps - Stories
Female guards were generally middle to low class and had no work experience, and their professional background varied: mentions former matrons, hairdressers, street car ticket takers, opera singers, or retired teachers. Volunteers were recruited by ads in German newspapers asking for women to show their love for the Reich and join the SS-Gefolge (an SS cousin organisation for women).
Additionally, some were conscripted based on data in their SS files. TheHitler Youth acted as a vehicle of indoctrination for many of the women 3. A head female overseer, Helga Hegel referred to her female guards as "SS" women at a post war hearing. She placed the SS in quotes because the women were not official members of the SS, but many of them belonged to the Waffen-SS.
Only less then twenty women were true SS members because Hitler's SS corps did not allow regular women members. The few women guards who belonged to the SS (as close as they could) served in the camps. Other women belonged to the Death's Head Units such as Therese Brandl and Irmtraut Sell.
The training of the female guard was similar to that of the male SS guard. The women took classes which ranged from four weeks to half a year, taught by the head wardresses. (Near the end of the war little training was given-if at all.) Former SS woman, Hertha Ehlert who served at Ravensbruck, Majdanek, Lublin, Auschwitz, and Bergen Belsen described her training at the Belsen Trial as "physically and emotionally demanding." (Brown, 2002)
The trainees were told about the corruption of the Weimar Republic, how to punish prisoners, and how to look out for sabatoge and work slow downs. Dorothea Binz, head training overseer at Ravensbruck after 1942 trained her female students on the finer points of malicious pleasure. (Brown, 2002) One survivor at a camp stated after the war that "the Germans brought a group of fifty women to the camp to undergo training.
The women were seperated and brought before the inmates. The woman was then told to hit her [a prisoner]. Of the fifty women, only three asked the reason why they had to hit the inmate; only three asked the reason why, and only one refused, which caused her to be put in jail herself. The rest of them quickly got into the swing of things, which they had been warming up for their whole lives for."
Many women survivors commented after the war that the only thing the female guards had to claim their superiority by was their uniform. As the 1996 story about the former Ravensbruck and Belzig female guard, Margot P. commented, "Heavy leather boots, a blouse with a tie. That is what the custodians [SS women] wore at the women's KZ Belzig ."
This was, in fact the uniform of female guards in the majority of the women's camps. Female guards also wore a military style visor hat, and some wore a cape. Kitty Hart took the coat of a captured SS woman after she was liberated from the Salzwedel subcamp, and had the buttons cut off. Later she told her story to aUSofficer who asked her where she had gotten her coat from. The man looked shocked when he heard that it was an SS woman's coat: "All that time when we were freezing, some of us to death, we hated those vicious bitches in their wind proof, water proof coats. And now I have one for myself."
Oberaufseherin (Senior Overseer [very high position]).
The highest rank ever attained by a woman was "Chef Oberaufseherin" (Chief Senior Overseer) (see Luise Brunner or Anna Klein ). Each day the chief overseer assigned her female guards their positions. Getting on her bad side would send the overseer into the forest on wood chopping kommandos, instead of in a heated and cushy office.
In the Nazi command structure, no female guard could ever give orders to a male one, even if the woman outranked the man. Similarly, no female commandant arose in the concentration camp system. Females only served under males, some of equal rank. Ravensbrück, the only strictly women's camp in the camp network, was run by many SS men, but only aided by a few female assistants.
Relations between SS men and female guards existed at many camps. Even many married SS women had at least one constant SS lover. In the perverted world of the camps truly anything was possible. The guards all had monstrous eating and drinking bouts in the SS canteens, after which they were so far gone that they could not recall in the morning who they spent the rest of the night with. (Brown, 2002)
In fact, Heinrich Himmler had told his SS men to regard the female guards as equals and comrades. At the small Helmbrechts subcamp near Hof, Germany, the commandant was openly romantic with the head female overseer Helga Hegel. Other guards were also romantic with each other, and one female overseer in the camp even became pregnant.
Irma Grese, one of the most brutal women overseers was rumored to have homosexual relations with several women prisoners, whom she then sent to the gas chambers. She also had relations with SS doctor Josef Mengele, commandant Josef Kramer and with several other inmates and SS.
Corruption was another aspect of the female guard culture. Ilse Koch was the chief woman guard at Buchenwald, as well as wife of the commandant Karl Koch. The two were known in the camp for stealing millions of Reichmarks from the inmates. Ilse even was rumored to have bathed in Madeira wine and was a lover of horses.
So much so that her husband spent millions on a special riding hall just for her. A German court arrested the two during the late stages of the war for stealing millions of Reichmarks from the Reich and executed her husband at Buchenwald, where he once reigned supreme. Ilse however was released due to lack of evidence.
Some speculate that she had the witnesses in Buchenwald murdered. In a Majdanek subcamp in Lublin, Poland a female guard stole some money from the camp and injured an inmate so badly that she died the next day. A Nazi court found her guilty of stealing and imprisoned her for seven days for the theft and one day for the murder of the camp inmate. Many female and male guards who served at Auschwitz Birkenau became rich off the mountains of stolen goods in the Auschwitz work camp at Canada.
At one point the stealing became so bad that the chief woman guard, Lagerfuhrerin Maria Mandel wrote a letter to all her Aufseherinnen and demanded that they stop stealing the precious turpentine from the camp storerooms. Irma Grese found other (illegal) means of securing the valuable commodity. Many women in the camp later stood before an SS court for stealing.
If there were brutal female guards, there were certainly nice ones. Several testimonies after the war pointed to polite guards. Klara Kunig became a camp guard in mid-1944 and served at Ravensbruck and its subcamp at Dresden-Universelle.
The head wardress at the camp pointed out that she was too polite and too kind towards the inmates, so they dismissed her from camp duty in January 1945. Her fate remains unknown, but she may have been arrested and imprisoned.
At Auschwitz Birkenau, an Aufseherin was found guilty of helping inmates and the chief overseer ordered her punished. The female guard was then given "fifteen lashes on her derrier [buttocks]." (Brown, 2002) To add to the humiliation, other female guards were forced to administer this punishment.
At the Ravensbrück subcamp at Dresden Universelle , Charlotte Hanakam was chief wardress, and in Flossenbürg, this rank was given to three women at three different times; Gertrud Becker , Dora Lange , and Gertrud Weniger .
In the Graslitz auxiliary camp, Marianne Essmann was promoted head guard, at Gross Rosen, Jane Bernigau, in Gruenberg, Anna Viebeg served as chief Oberaufseherin, while Anna Jahn and Hela Milefski served as Second Lagerleiterinnen (Replacement Camp Overseers).
At Gruschwitz-Neusalz subcamp of Gross Rosen Elisabeth Gersch was in charge, at Hamburg-Wandsbek , Annemie von der Huelst .
The Hanau subcamp in Germany was overseen by chief overseer Lydia Neudert .
Helmbrechts was a subcamp of Flossenbürg built near Hof, Germany. Originally, Martha Dell' Antonia served there as head female guard over twenty-two female guards.
In late 1944 she was replaced by the commandant's (Doerr's) lover, Herta Hegel .
In Hirtenberg , Jane Bernigau served sometime as head overseer, in Holleischen Dora Lange .
The tiny subcamp at Kochstadt Emma was head woman guard; Kratzau II
The SS women, as they have been called, were generally strong, stout and healthy. Most carried whips and used them frequently.
In 1944 as German losses mounted on both fronts, Reich Minister Albert Speer recommended women take the positions of men in the camps so the Aryan males could fight for the Reich. Many other high ranking Nazis did not want women to hold positions in the Reich and disputes mounted; so much so that many witnesses described the arguments that Speer got himself into because he wanted to commandeer women to work for the Reich in greater numbers.
When the death marches were leaving the camps, many housewives and single women were forced to guard the starving women along the way and into other camps. As the Allies liberated the camps, SS women were generally still in active service. Many were captured in or near the camps of Ravensbruck, Bergen Belsen, Gross Rosen, Flossenburg, Salzwedel, Neustadt-Glewe, Neuengamme, and Stutthof. After the war many SS women were held at the internment camp at Recklinghausen, Germany.
There between 500 and 1,000 women were held while the US Army investigated their crimes and camp service. The majority of them were released because male SS were the top priority. Many of the women held there were high ranking leaders of the "Hitler Youth", or the BDM (German Girls and Women's Organization), while other women served in concentration camps; Salzwedel, Essen, Ravensbruck, etc. Many SS men and SS women were executed by the Soviets when they liberated the camps.
Others were sent to Russian gulags and never heard from again. Only a few SS women were tried for their crimes compared to male SS. Most female wardresses were tried at the Auschwitz Trial, in the four of the seven Ravensbrück Trials, at the first Stutthof Trial , and in the second and Third Majdanek Trials . Others were tried in single cases, such as Walli Meta Kilkowski who served at Ravensbrück and Neustadt-Glewe and Suze Arts who served as Vught and Ravensbruck camps. She received fifteen years imprisonment for maltreating prisoners.
The last female overseer to be tried was in 1996, with the case of former Aufseherin Luise Danz. Luise served as overseer in January 1943 at Plaszow, then at Majdanek, Auschwitz-Birkenau and at the Ravensbrück subcamp at Malchow as Oberaufseherin. She was tried at the first AuschwitzTrial and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1947. In 1956 she was released for good behavior. In 1996 she was once again tried for the murder of a young woman in Malchow at the end of the war. The case is still underway in 2005.
That same year, 1996, a story broke in Germany about a former Aufseherin from the Belzig subcamp named Margot P. She had received a life sentence after the war by the Soviets and was released in the early 1990's at the age of seventy-four. The government gave her over 100,000 dollars because she was a "Stalinist victim." Many historians argued that she had lied and didn't deserve the money. She did infact serve time in a German prison, which was overseen by the Soviets, but, she was in there because she had served brutally in the ranks of two concentration camps.
The debate has since become a thing of the past and the former guard lives in a small town in northern Germany named Forge. The days of full fledged Nazi hunts are over, and over 60 years have passed since the Nazi Regime collapsed.
The majority of the former women guards are over the age of 75, if they are still alive.
She received ten years imprisonment, but in the mid-1950's she was released. After the war she married and became "Lange". In her rare interview in 2004, Herta was asked if she regretted being a guard in aconcentration camp. Her response was, "What do you mean?...I made a mistake, NO... The mistake was, that it was a concentration camp, but I had to go to it otherwise I would of been put into it myself, that was my mistake."
Was the wife of Karl Koch, the commandant of the concentration campBuchenwald. She is infamous for taking souvenirs from the skin of murdered inmates with distinctive tattoos. There is no conclusive evidence for the common claim that she made lampshades from human skin -- however, her family dinner table was decorated with shrunken human heads.
Display table at Buchenwald was part of the grand tour of the camp
Prisoners' tattooed skin
She was known as "the Witch of Buchenwald" ("Die Hexe von Buchenwald") and dubbed "the Bitch of Buchenwald" by the inmates because of her sadistic cruelty toward prisoners.
Her history began in 1936 when she began working as a guard and secretary at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. There she met and married the commandant Karl Otto Koch. In 1936 she came to Buchenwald not as a guard, but as the wife of the commandant. In 1941 Ilse became an Oberaufseherin ("chief overseer") over a few female guards who arrived at the camp.
Ilse Koch leaves the courtroom at Dachau, April 1947
Sources say only one or two served in the camp before 1944. In 1943 Ilse's husband was arrested for threatening officials, embezzlement and other offenses and was removed from the camp, while Ilse stayed behind. After a lengthy trial Ilse was acquitted of embezzlement and returned to Buchenwald.
Ilse Koch, August 19, 1947
In 1944, with larger numbers of female prisoners entering the camp, Ilse continued her reign of terror and commanded twenty female overseers (Aufseherinnen) in Buchenwald. Her power over her subordinates was absolute. Ilse terrorized female and male prisoners at Buchenwald.
She even had a whip fitted with razor blades at the end, which she used on pregnant women. In April 1945, Ilse walked out of the camp and continued living outside the camp wire in a well furnished home. When US GI's arrived at Buchenwald, they heard many stories about the former "wife of the commandant." When the soldiers arrested Ilse they were surprised that she didn't appear to be the sadistic monster the prisoners described.
After the war, Ilse was tried by a war crimes tribunal and sentenced to a life term in 1947, later commuted to four years because of doubts about some of the testimony against her. Konrad Morgen had testified at her tribunal that no evidence supporting the "lampshades and gloves" story had been found in an exhaustive search of her house, though his other testimony was damning.
After serving two years of her four-year sentence, she was re-arrested and tried by a German court for killing German nationals, and sentenced to a life term. She committed suicide by hanging herself at Aibach prison in 1967.
Sergeant Blowers told us some things about the Commandant of Buchenwald and his wife. We could see their house down the hill through the leafless trees from our seats on the front steps (of the barracks). Blowers painted a picture of truly despicable human beings. The wife, Ilse Koch, favored jodhpurs, boots, and a riding crop. He told us this story about her: Once, she ordered all of the Jewish prisoners in the camp stripped and lined up; she then marched down the rows of them, and, as she saw a tattoo she liked, she would touch that tattoo with her riding crop; the guards would take the man away immediately to the camp hospital where the doctors would remove the patch of skin with the tattoo, have it tanned, and patch it together with others to make lamp shades. There were three of those lamp shades--the history books say there were two, but there were three. One of them disappeared shortly after we arrived. This may give you a glimmer of an idea of what Ilse Koch was like--and her husband--and the camp "doctors."
The most notorious German war criminal, of all those who were brought before the American Military Tribunals at Dachau, was unquestionably Ilse Koch, the wife of Karl Otto Koch, the infamous former Commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Karl Otto Koch had already been put on trial by the Nazis themselves and executed before the war ended. Ilse Koch was among the 31 accused war criminals from Buchenwald who were brought before an American Military Tribunal at Dachau on April 11, 1947.
Ilse Koch points to the location of her home near the camp zoo
Ilse Koch became pregnant while she was held in prison at the former Dachau concentration camp. The two photos above show how she lost weight during the trial; her baby was born in September 1947.
14 American clergymen attended the trial of Ilse Koch
Frau Koch had been previously investigated for 8 months by Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, an SS officer who had been assigned in 1943 to look into accusations of corruption and murder in the Buchenwald camp. She had already been put on trial in December 1943 in a special Nazi Court where Konrad Morgan was the judge. The rumor, circulated by the inmates at Buchenwald, that lamp shades had been made out of human skin, was thoroughly investigated, but no evidence was found and this charge against Frau Koch had been dismissed by Morgen.
Prosecution witness Dr. Kurte Sitte identifies 3 pieces of tattooed skin
Even though Ilse Koch had been acquitted in Morgen's court, the former inmates at Buchenwald were convinced that she had ordered prisoners to be killed, so that their tattooed skin could be made into lamp shades. When the American liberators arrived, they were told about the gory accessories in Frau Koch's home. A display table was set up and a film, directed by Billy Wilder, was made to document the atrocities in the camp.
Rearrested in 1949, Ilse Koch was tried before a West German court for the killing of German nationals, and on January 15, 1951, she was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.
She committed suicide in a Bavarian prison on September 1, 1967.
The photograph below is a still shot from the film. It shows preserved pieces of tattooed skin laid out on a table, and a table lamp with a shade allegedly made from human skin.
These are pieced together from screenshots of the program "The Most Evil Women in History" on Discovery Channel. I post them here because you cannot find many images of her online and the ones you do see are of her during her trial or imprisonment. Unfortunately no dates are given for any of the photos. No pictures of her in her Oberaufseherin uniform, either.
Ilse Köhler as a pretty young woman.
Young Ilse Köhler and her dog
Karl and Ilse Koch's wedding photo, this would be from 1936.
Ilse & Karl Koch, date unknown
Ilse & Karl Koch on a picnic, date unknown
Ilse & her baby playing in the garden
Carl, Artwin, and Ilse Koch (this is probably near the camp if not inside the camp)
Karl & Ilse at the beach
Relaxing in her garden at her villa on Officer's Row, just near the Buchenwald complex
Ilse in her fur coat at winter time
**Ilse doing her very Eva Braun-like exercise routine **
This page contains exerpts from sources concerning the case of Ilse Koch and the the issue of human skin ornaments at Buchenwals.
The Buchenwald Report, trans. and edited by David A. Hackett (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995).
In April 1945, an Intelligence Team from the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Forces went to the newly liberated Buchenwald Camp, and interviewed survivors and attempted to document what had happened there. The team was headed by 2nd Lt. Albert G. Rosenberg, and the Main Report (history of the camp) was written by survivor Eugen Kogon.
Kogon used the report as the basis of his 1946 book, Der SS- Staat (English ed.: The Theory and Practice of Hell, 1950).
Although the report's existence was known of by scholars, it was supposed that it was lost or buried in some archive. Kogon had lost his copy in a flood at his home. But Rosenberg has saved a carbon copy for himself. This edition is the first time that the entire report has been published, in any language. The original plan was that it would be translated into English and published, but nobody knows what happened to the originalreport.
Ilse Koch, known in the popular press as 'the bitch of Buchenwald,' was tried at the Buchenwald camp guards trial. Her collection of human skin and tattoos received extensive publicity. She was sentenced to life, but the sentence was reduced to four years. A public furor resulted, including an investigation in 1948 by a U.S. Senate committee headed by Homer Ferguson of Michigan. Koch was released in 1949, rearrested by German authorities, retried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. She committed suicide at Aichach prison in Bavaria in 1967. NA, RG 338, case 000-50-9, box 426, 'Review,' 62-65, 94-95; Frank M. Buscher, The U.S. War Crimes Trial Program in Germany, 1946-1955, (New York: Greenwood, 1989), 54-55; Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976), 198.
Frau Koch took baths in Madeira that was poured into the bathtub.
Dr. Wagner wrote a doctoral dissertation on tattooing, had the entire camp searched for people with tattoos, and had them photographed. The prisoners were later called to the gate by Commandant Koch, selected according to the splendor of their tattooed skin, and sent into the infirmary. Soon thereafter the best examples of skin appeared in the pathology department, where they were prepared and were shown to SS visitors as special treasures for years. Koch had an 'artistic' table lamp made for himself out of human bones stretched over with human skin. Hundreds of prepared human skins were sent to Berlin on orders of the chief doctor for the concentration camps, SS Colonel Dr. Lolling.
--From the "Individual Reports" Section of the book:
page 143: Excerpt from "The Early Years of the Camp," by Fritz M"annchen, Dresden:
...One Sunday in February 1938 the prisoners had to stand naked in the square for three hours while SS men searched their clothes. During this time the wife of the mass murderer Koch and four other SS officers' wives stood at the barbed wire fence and stared lewdly at the naked prisoners.
page 224: Excerpt from "Pathology" by Gustav Wegerer, Vienna:
Beginning in fall 1940 SS Captain Mueller worked in the pathology department...On orders from Berlin, Mueller initiated the project of peeling off the tattood skin from the bodies of dead or murdered prisoners, tanning it, and producing lampshades out of it. How many lampshades were produced from human skin I can no longer say precisely today. But on many occasions several hundred pieces of tattooed human skin, tanned in various manners, were sent to SS Colonel Lolling, the chief of Section D III of the Main Economic andAdministrative Office of the SS in Oranienburg.
...Mueller also gave Stoeckel and Werner Bach the assignment of producing sheaths for pocketknives and other objects out of tanned human skin. [Ed. note: Wegerer also mentions that "a sizable number of heads" were shrunk at Buchenwald.]
** page 337: Excerpt from "Valet for Koch," by Kurt Dietz, Tiefenau über Riesa:**
I was called by Dr. [Konrad] Morgen, who led the investigation, to make a deposition as a witness. Of course I avoided all damagingtestimony because I knew that otherwise I myself would be condemned to death. In particular, I was asked whether Frau Koch had satisfied her perverse desires with me (she would use a small stick to beat the penis she forced a prisoner to show her); I could answer no in good conscience.
page 338: Excerpt from "Sidelights on the Koch Affair," by Stefan Heymann, Manheim:
The fact that Koch had lamps made of human skin, which of course had to be decorated with 'artistic' tattoos, did not distinguish him from the other SS officers: They had the same 'artworks' made for their family homes. It is more interesting that Frau Koch had a lady's handbag made out of the same material. She was just as proud of it as a South Sea island woman would have been about her cannibal trophies.
From Laurie, Clayton D. The Propaganda Warriors: America's Crusade Against Nazi Germany (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996), p. 285, note 6:
6. Letter, Creedy to Sioux, 27 Apr. 1945, and Creedy to Wintle, 12 Mar. 1948, both in Box 15, Entry 99, RG 226. In his 27 April letter, Wintle wrote that 'the planning staff in Washington used to cut out most of the best human sausage meat and human skin decorationsstories as implausible. And yet, reading the Belsen concentration camp account, I noted some women had made a lamp shade out of pretty tatoo [sic] marks, having preserved the skin of victims. So once again we've turned out to be nearer the truth with out wildest flights of imagination than with some of our more modest creations.'
Seventh Medical Laboratory APO 403, c/o PK, New York, N.Y. Section of Pathology
25 May 1945
SUBJECT: Identification of Tattoed Skin Hides
TO : COMMANDING GENERAL, Third U. S. Army (ATTN: JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL)
1. There were submitted to this laboratory section for examination three tanned pieces of skin by Lt. Col. GIVIN from Buchenwald Camp with office record designation of Case 81 T.J.A.
2. The description follows:
PIECE C: Is truncated, measures 44 cm. at the base. The upper portion is 30 cm. long and the sides measure 46 cm. The skin is transparent, and shows two nipples in the upper area. These are 16 cm. apart. From the nipple level to the umbilicus is 23 1/2 cm. ....
MICROSCOPIC: The tissue consists of bundles of collagen showing occasional epithelial and sweat gland remnants. Granular black pigment granules are seen between some of the bundles.
3. Based on the findings in paragraph 2, all three specimens are tattooed human skin.
For the Commanding Officer,
(signature) REUBEN CARES Major M.C. Chief of Pathology
It is apparent that even some of the SS thought that these kinds of things are going too far, because a letter to the Buchenwald Pathology Department asks that the manufacturing of shrunken heads etc. will stop.
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Subject: Canadian Ambassador re: Buchenwald visit Summary: Georges Vanier describes visit to Buchenwald, mentions lampshades and death chambers, crematorium After an inquiry some time back, I received a photocopy of the following letter from the Canadian Ambassador to France, Georges Vanier, written in April, 1945. It describes a tattooed-skin lampshade, and the death chambers and crematorium. The full Vanier Report, running some 50 pages, is also on the way, although it may take a month or more for it to reach me. When it does, I will provide it within the Buchenwald diplomatic archive. knm. Archive/File: pub/camps/buchenwald/diplomatic/georges-vanier.042745 Last-Modified: 1995/08/28 Transcribed: Ken McVay ([email protected]) Source: National Archives of Canada, File 1426-P-40 AMBASSADE DU CANADA CANADIAN EMBASSY PARIS [Seal] PARIS 27th April, 1945. No. 548 Sir, Will you please refer to my telegram No. 299, dated 24th April, which relates to my visit to Buchenwald camp. 2. In company with eight members of the United States Congress, I left London for Weimar on Sunday morning, the 22nd. April. The names of the Congressmen, and of the States for which they sit, follow: Marion T. BENNETT, Springfield, Illinois Gordon CANFIELD, Peterson, New Jersey Henry M. JACKSON, Everett, Washington Carter MANASCO, Jasper, Alabama Albert RAINS, 5th District Alabama, Gadsden, Alabama Francis E. WALTER, Easton, Pennsylvania Earl WILSON, Huron, Indiana Eugene WORLEY, Shannock, Texas Half were Democrats, the others Republicans, but whatever their political differences may have been, they were of one mind and one will after the visit, about the necessity for taking any measures, however drastic, which might be required to prevent a recurrence of crimes against humanity. 3. My reasons for going to the camp were to enquire into and to obtain all available information on Canadians who had been interned there, and to make sure also that there were no others among the remaining 20,000 ex-prisoners. 4. We had luncheon in the plane and on arrival at Weimar drove direct to the camp where we spent some hours and were shown over by the American officers in charge. The camp of Buchenwald is situated near a former zoological garden, some five miles from Weimar, where Goethe and Schiller lived and died. The approach is by a road flanked on either side by beautiful trees - pines and chestnuts. It is an idyllic drive which makes the horrible contrast at the end of the journey all the more revolting. The camp was built in 1937 by political prisoners to accommodate themselves. In the first place it was designed to hold 8,000 but when liberation came on the 11th April there were almost 60,000 inhabitants. 5. The official figure given in the camp register of deaths during the months of January, February, March and the first ten days of April of this year, was 18,485. The condition of the internees was such that an average of 60 deaths occurred daily for a week or more following liberation. The number who died at Buchenwald altogether will never be established - well over 50,000, it may be over 100,000. 6. We visited the death chambers and saw the quadruple electric lifts on which bodies were raised to the ovens of the crematorium above. In the ovens, blackened forms of bodies still lay. We saw also the noise-making machine which drowned the screams of the unfortunate victims. We were told that the death quota for the camp was 80 a day. Facilities existed for the easy, continuous cremation of that many. This quota was often exceeded, however, which accounted apparently for the naked bodies, piled like so much cord wood, and on which lime was thrown. We saw some of these emaciated, bruised and blood-stained bodies. 7. In the improvised hospitals were hundreds of men, some with running sores, their bodies so devoid of flesh that they could not lie for long in one position. Some who were able to stand were little more than skin and bones. One marvelled how the knee and ankle joints held together. 8. We say several hundred children, most of them Polish Jews; some had been in prison camps for years. Those of ten and over worked as slave labourers on munitions. Not one, so far as I know, had any idea of where his parents were; in view of the barbarous treatment inflicted on Poles and Jews by the Germans, it is probable that all have been done to death. 9. A lampshade was found - and this I saw - made from tattooed human skin. 10. There is a famous oak tree at Buchenwald, beneath which Goethe wrote some of his poems. The German gaolers found nothing better than to make of it a gibbet for hanging men by the armpits with their hands tied behind their backs. 11. Shortly after liberation a memorial service was held to honour the dead. This, in part, is the declaration made by the living: "We are assembled here to honour our dead comrades - shot, hanged, trampled down, slain, choked, starved, drowned, poisoned, tortured. The thought that kept us alive, as we saw with helpless rage our comrades fall, was that the day of vengeance would come." Yes, indeed, the seeds of hate sown by the Germans throughout the world, and more especially in Europe, are such that generations must pass before the grim harvest of revenge will be checked. 12. One is forced to the conviction that those who did these horrible things saw nothing wrong in them; perhaps they were actually proud of their efficiency in producing death. These Germans are not as other humans, they are satanic. Though they have a veneer of Christianity, deep down they must still be barbarians - in saying this one is unfair to the barbarian because there is a scientific refinement about these horrors which barbarians, uncouth and wild, living in a primitve state, could not invent. 13. After visiting the camp with the Congressmen I went to the Records Office to obtain whatever information I could with regard to the Canadians who were reported as having been executed at the camp in September of last year. I was shown a list of French, British and Canadian nationals, upon which were the following names and information:- 9636 JOHN MACALISTER. Date of birth 9-7-1914. Guelph (Advocat) 8738 GUY SABOURIN. Date of birth 1-1-1923 Montreal (Officer) 9992 FRANK PICKERSGILL. Date of birth 28-5-1915 Winnipeg. The list purported to be a record of the arrivals on the 27th August, 1944. The names were of men who had been doing special work, for example, the transmission of clandestine messages after having been parachuted, etc. They were known as the Robert Benoist group. I did not find any list which indicated that these men had been executed but I was told that the "X" opposite each of the above three names afforded proof of such execution. As a matter of fact the records are most incomplete, many of them were either taken away or destroyed before the camp was liberated. I was assured, however, by a Captain Simms, sent by S.O.E. to investigate, that there could be no doubt that these men had been executed. There were a few names (but not of Canadians) on the list, opposite which no "X" appeared and about which there is some doubt. 14. I found an ex-prisoner who was able to give me some information. His name is Richard Rendl, an Austrian, whose permanent address is Sobieskigasse 9, Vienna IX: present address - Buchenwald Camp. He saw the three Canadians arrive at the camp. They were hand-cuffed and in civilian clothes. They were given other civilian clothes later but not the usual grey striped clothes of other prisoners. Rendl was quite sure that the three had been executed. He did not remember the exact date. They had been in Block No. 17 which was called the Quarantine Block. It was normal for them to be housed there because they were new arrivals and all newcomers were taken there. He saw them quite often up to and including the evening before they were executed. They were always in good humour, apparently not suspecting for a moment that they would be killed. 15. Rendl reported that allied bombs fell in the camp towards the end of August (there was a factory nearby in which some of the prisoners worked). A few days later he heard Frank Pickersgill joking and wishing to wager a thousand pounds that they would all be home by Christmas. [Balance of letter deals with the names of persons who might provide leads as to the fate of the Canadians, in sections 16 and 17. knm] I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant, [s/ Georges Vanier] CANADIAN AMBASSADOR
Born in Wrechen , southeastern Mecklenburg close to Pasewalk to Alfred Grese, a milker, member of the NSDAP since 1937, and Berta Grese. She had four siblings. 1936 her mother committed suicide, allegedly because of marital problems.
She left school in 1938 at the age of 14. Among other casual jobs, she worked as an assistant nurse in the SSsanatorium Hohenlychen for two years and later tried to find an apprenticeship place as a nurse but was not successful. She voluntarily signed up with the SS and was employed as a Aufseherin at Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1942. Her father did not agree with her choice and ordered to stay away from their house. She was transferred to Auschwitz in March 1943 and by the end of that year she was Oberaufseherin (Senior Supervisor), the second highest ranking woman at the camp, in charge of around 30,000 Jewish female prisoners. In January 1945 she briefly returned to Ravensbrück before ending her wartime career at Bergen-Belsen as an Arbeitsdienstführerin from March to April, being captured by the British April 17 1945 together with other SS-personnel who did not flee.
She was among the 44 accused of war crimes at the Belsen Trial. She was tried over the first period of the trials (September 17 - November 17, 1945) and was represented by Major L. Cranfield. The trials were conducted under British military law in Lüneburg and the charges derived from the Geneva Convention of 1929 regarding the treatment of prisoners. The accusations against her centred on her ill treatment and murder of Allied nationals imprisoned at the camps, including setting dogs on inmates, shootings and sadistic beatings with a whip.
Irma Grese and Josef Kramer standing in the courtyard of the Prisoner of War cage at Celle. Kramer said that the gas chamber story was "untrue from beginning to end." Both were convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death. Aug. 8, 1945. Source Imperial War Museum collection: unrestricted access.
** Witnesses testified that she used both physical and emotional methods to torture the camp’s inmates and enjoyed shooting prisoners in cold blood. They also testified to acts of sadism, beatings and arbitrary shootings of prisoners, savaging of prisoners by her trained and allegedly half-starved dogs, and to her selecting prisoners for the gas chambers. After a fifty-three day trial, she was sentenced to hang.**
“I am the sister of Irma Grese, 20 years old and live at Wrecken in Wreckensburg. My father was an agricultural worker, and I have two sisters and two brothers, my mother died in 1936. When she was 14 years old, my sister Irma worked on a farm of a peasant in a village near where we lived.
Helene Grese - Irma Grese's sister. Photo: September 28, 1945. Lüneburg.
From the time she entered the Concentration Camp Service I saw her twice. In 1943 she came home on leave, and the only thing she told us about her work was that her duties consisted of supervising prisoners so that they would not escape.
I saw her when she left Auschwitz in 1945, and she told me that she had been working for a considerable period in a sort of a post office, receiving and distributing mail, and that some times she had been detailed to guard duties.
From your knowledge of your sister, do you think her a person likely to beat the prisoners under her charge?
In our schooldays when, as it sometimes happens, girls were quarrelling and fighting, my sister never had the courage to fight , but on the contrary she ran away.
When your sister went to work on the farm when she was 14, how long did she stay there?
About six months to a year.
Where did she go from there?
She went to Hohenlychen, as a sort of a nurse, and then to a small dairy in Furstenburg, where she worked, I believe twelve to eighteen months**.**
Did she go from there into the SS?
Yes in 1942 she went to Ravensbruck, which was very near us.
How long before 1943 was it since you had seen your sister?
In spring 1942 when she was working in the dairy.
When she came home in 1943, did your father give her a thrashing?
I did not see that, but he was quarrelling with her because she was in the SS.
Did he forbid her to come to the house again?
I do not know. She never came again.
**Was not that because she told you what she did at Ravensbruck? **
I do not know why.
You would be 16 at that time, you never asked what she was doing in the concentration camp, and she never told you?
She told us she was supervising the prisoners working inside the compound, and she had to see that they were doing their work well and that they did not escape.
We asked her, “What do the prisoners get for food, and why have they been sent to a concentration camp?” and she answered that she was not allowed to talk to the prisoners and did not know what sort of food they got.
Why did your father lose his temper with her?
Because he was very much against her being in the SS. We all wanted to belong to the Bund Deutscher Madchen but he never allowed us to do so. I have not seen my father since April 1945.
**Irma Grese questioned by her lawyer Major Cranfield. **
Did you carry a stick at Auschwitz?
_Yes an ordinary walking stick _
Did you carry a whip at Auschwitz?
Yes, made out of cellophane in the weaving factory in the camp. It was a very light whip, but if I hit somebody with it, it would hurt. After eight days Kommandant Kramer prohibited whips, but we nevertheless went on using them, I never carried a rubber truncheon.
Where did the order come from for what we call “selection parades”?
_That came by telephone from a Rapport-Fuhrerin or from Oberaufseherin Dreschel. _
When the order came were you told what the parade was for?
What were the prisoners supposed to do when the whistle went?
Fall in fives, and it was my duty to see that they did so. Dr Mengele then came and made the selection. As I was responsible for the camp, my duties were to know how many people were leaving and I had to count them, and I kept the figures in a strength book.
After the selection took place they were sent into “B” Camp, and Dreschel telephoned and told me that they had gone to another camp in Germany for working purposes or for special treatment, which I thought was the gas chamber.
_I then put in my strength book either so many for transfer to Germany to another camp, or so many for S.B. (Sonderbehandlung). It was well known to the whole camp that S.B. meant the gas chamber. _
Were you told anything about the gas chamber by your senior officers?
_No the prisoners told me about it. _
You have been accused of choosing prisoners on these parades and sending them to the gas chamber. Have you done that?
No: I knew that prisoners were gassed.
**Was it not quite simple to know whether or not the selection was for the gas chamber, because only Jews had to attend such selections? **
I myself had only Jews in Camp C.
Then they would all have to attend the selection for the gas chamber, would they not?
As you were told to wait for the doctors you would know perfectly well what it was for?
**When these people were parading they were often paraded naked and inspected like cattle to see whether they were fit to work or fit to die, were they not? **
Not like cattle.
**You were there keeping order, were you not, and if one ran away you brought her back and gave her a beating? **
**Examination by her defence counsel **
**The witness Szafran has accused you of beating a girl at Belsen with a riding crop about a fortnight before the British troops arrived, and also that at Auschwitz during a selection two girls jumped out of a window and you shot them while they were lying on the ground. Is that true? **
_I never shot at all at any prisoner. _
Earlier the Prosecution had examined D. Szafran:
**Whilst you were at Auschwitz did you see any other persons beaten besides yourself? **
I saw it vey often when I was working in Kommando 103 and we were carrying loads of earth and coal. I have seen Kramer beat a person so often that I cannot really say how many times. I have seen Grese do it in Auschwitz and about a fortnight before the British troops liberated Belsen I saw her beat a girl in the camp.
_She had a pistol, but she was using a riding crop. The beatings were very severe. If they were not the cause of death, they were not called severe in the camp. _
**Grese’s counsel had cross-examined D. Szafran: **
Do you remember telling us that you had seen Grese No 9, beating a girl in Belsen about a fortnight before the British troops arrived?
I remember it now, it was in the kitchen. Grese was not the kitchen Kommandant, she came in there with the Lager Kommandant on inspection. She beat the girl with a riding whip made of leather.
If I tell you that at Auschwitz Grese carried a stick and sometimes a whip, but at Belsen she never carried either, are you sure that you are not confused over this incident?
In Auschwitz she wore a pistol and in Belsen she went about with a riding whip. She was one of the few SS women who had a permit to carry arms. I cannot say whether she was wearing a pistol at the time of this incident.
Then upon re-examination of this witness by the Prosecution
You said that you could tell us of a good many more instances of Grese’s conduct?
Yes. In Camp A, Block 9, Blockalteste Ria and Hoessler and Dr Enna, the prison doctor made a selection for the gas chamber, and two selected girls jumped out of the window and Grese approached them as they were lying on the ground and shot them twice.
She was always active in the camp gate making inspections and if any of the prisoners wore another sock or shoe or anything like that, he or she would be beaten up.
You have been asked a good many questions about dates. Were you given calendars either at Auschwitz or Belsen?
No but I remember very well because they were so terrible and ghastly.
**Irma Grese’s examination by her own counsel **
The witness Stein told us that at selection in the summer of 1944 some prisoners tried to hide, but that you saw them, told somebody and a woman was shot. It was suggested that the woman was shot by an SS man or guard. Had you any authority to issue orders to an SS guard?
The same witness alleged there was an incident when a mother was talking to her daughter over the wire between two compounds, that you arrived on a bicycle and beat the mother so severely that she was lying on the ground where you kicked her?
I do not deny that I beat her, but I did not beat her until she fell to the ground, and I did not kick her either.
**Ilona Stein’s earlier cross-examination by Grese’s counsel **
With regard to the incident you described of a woman being shot when trying to escape from a selection parade in Auschwitz, was she Hungarian?
You described an incident when Grese arrived on a bicycle and beat another woman, did she beat her with her belt?
_I do not know exactly what was in her hands, but I did see that she had something in them. I do remember, however, that I have seen Grese taking off her belt and beating prisoners with it. _
Was the body taken away on a stretcher by hand or was it taken away by something on wheels?
When somebody died, which happened in very many cases, he was simply put into a blanket and dragged away.
But once when I was out on a working party, Grese saw me talking to somebody through the barbed wire and she immediately started beating me.
Did you see Grese beating a great many people a great many times at both camps?
I saw her more frequently doing this in Auschwitz than in Belsen
Was the reason you only had this one beating from her because you behaved yourself well?
I had not very great contact with her because working in the kitchen we were rather separated.
**Ilona Stein deposition reads in part **
Whilst I was at Birkenau an SS woman named Irma Grese was responsible for many beatings, one murder and sending people to the gas chamber. I identify No 2 on photograph Z/4/2 as Irma Grese. __ What I speak of I speak of to my own knowledge.
In July 1944 I was working in the kitchen at Birkenau when I saw a woman, whose daughter was in an adjoining camp, go to the dividing wire in order to speak to her daughter. Grese who was passing on a bicycle, immediately got off, took off her leather belt and beat the woman with it.
She also beat her on the face and head with her fists, and when the woman fell to the ground she trampled on her. The woman’s face became swollen and blue. A friend of the woman’s daughter took her away and the woman was in the hospital for three weeks suffering from the effects of the beating.
I saw everything myself that Grese did to this victim.
Whilst at Birkenau I have seen Grese making selections with Dr Mengele of people to be sent to the gas chamber. On these parades Grese herself chose the people to be killed in this way.
In one selection about August 1944, there were between 2,000 and 3,000 selected. At this selection Grese and Mengele were responsible for selecting those for the gas chamber.
People chosen would sometimes sneak away from the line and hide themselves under their beds. Grese would go and find them, beat them until they collapsed and then drag them back into line again.
I have seen everything I describe. It was general knowledge in this camp that persons selected in this way went to the gas chamber.
Sometime in August or September 1944, at one of these selection parades, one Hungarian woman who had been selected tried to escape from the line and join her daughter in another line which was for those not chosen.
_Grese noticed this and ordered one of the SS guards to shoot the woman, which he did. I did not hear the order, but saw Grese speak to the guard and she was shot at once. In the company of some nurses from the hospital I took the dead body to the mortuary. _
Irma Grese under Prosecution questioning by Colonel Backhouse:
You affected heavy top-boots and you liked to walk around with a revolver strapped on your waist and a whip in your hand, did you not?
I did not like it.
You thought it very clever to have a whip made in the factory and even when the Commandant told you to stop using it you went on, did you not?
What was this whip really made of?
Cellophane paper plaited like a pigtail. It was translucent like white glass
The type of whip you would use for a horse?
Then most of these prisoners who said they saw you carrying a riding whip were not far wrong, were they?
_No, they were not wrong. _
Did the other Aufseherinnen have these whips made too?
It was just your bright idea?
In Lager “C” you used to carry a walking stick too, and sometimes you beat people with the whip and sometimes with the stick?
Were you allowed to beat people?
So it was not a question of having orders from your Superiors to do it. You did this against orders, did you?
Were you the only person who beat prisoners against regulations?
Did you give orders to other Aufseherinnen working under you to beat prisoners?
Had you the right to give such authorisation?
Irma Grese left Auschwitz in January 1945 and returned to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, before being transferred to the Concentration Camp of Bergen –Belsen in March 1945.
Bergen –Belsen was liberated by British troops on the 15 April 1945, amidst indescribable scenes of horror. The Commandant Josef Kramer along with forty-four others including Irma Grese were indicted before a British Military Court under Royal Warrant dated 14 June 1945.
The trial was held between the 17 September 1945 until the 17 November of the same year, Grese was convicted and sentenced to be hanged, along with two other female guards Elizabeth Voilkenrath and Joanna Bormann.
She was executed on the morning of the 13 December 1945 in Hamelin prison.
Daily the huts are subjected to a strict check. This is done by a young SS girl, the "gray mouse", who looks elegant and coquettish in her perfectly fitting uniform and pretty, shiny knee-length boots. Arrogant and noisy, she storms into the hut accompanied by a soldier and the Jewish camp leader (the "Judenältester").
The "gray mouse" gestures exaggeratedly, provocatively throws her body around sharply and utters theatrical, calculated, horrified cries whenever she sees badly washed dishes or a bed that has not been made carefully enough. She excels in slapping people in the face so as to produce a loud crack, impulsively, quickly and suddenly, without taking her glove off.
Without any reason she daily punishes at least seven or eight prisoners in each hut by canceling their bread or meal. Her only aim is to bully, to torment and to humiliate. Her visits serve no other purpose. Diary Notes of Hanna Levy-Hass, September 1944 - April 1945
Bergen-Belsen Overseers are guarded by British soldiers after the liberationIrma Grese was the youngest and most hated of the female guardsOverseers at Bergen-Belsen were well-fed and some were overweightIrene Haschke in the center, and Herta Bothe on the rightMug shot of Irene HaschkeMug shot of Herta Bothe
As of 2005, Herta Bothe was still alive and still defensive about her job as a female guard at Bergen-Belsen, maintaining that she had been conscripted in September 1942, at the age of 21, to work in the concentration camps; she claimed that she would have been put into a concentration camp herself if she had refused.
After four weeks of training at the Ravensbrück women's camp, Bothe was first sent to the Stutthof camp near the city formerly known as Danzig, and then to the Bromberg Ost sub-camp in July 1944. She had previously worked as a nurse in a German hospital.
When Bergen-Belsen was turned over to the British on April 15, 1945, Herta Bothe had been a guard there, in charge of 60 women prisoners, for no more than seven or eight weeks. She had arrived in the camp between February 20th and February 26th in charge of a death march of women prisoners evacuated from Poland. Bothe was one of the 80 guards who volunteered to stay behind to help the British take over the camp, not realizing that under the Allied concept of co-responsibility, she would be put on trial as a war criminal.
In the photo above, taken by the British at an Allied prison in Celle, Bothe looks haggard and has dark circles under her eyes after working for weeks in the camp to bury around 17,000 corpses including the bodies of 13,000 prisoners who died after the British took over.
Today, Herta Bothe is well known because of her defiant attitude and her show of anger when the women were ordered by the British to carry the rotten corpses to mass graves with their bare hands. In interviews years later, Bothe described how she was terrified of contracting typhus because the guards were not allowed to wear gloves or masks.
She described how the arms and legs of the decomposed bodies came off in her hands when she tried to pick them up, and how lifting the emaciated bodies caused her back pain. Although the British brought in bulldozers and shoved some of the bodies into the mass graves, they forced the former guards to do most of the work manually as their just punishment for the horrible conditions found in the camp.
Bothe was sentenced to ten years in prison after being convicted by a British Military Tribunal in 1946. She was released on December 22, 1951.
In 1938 (at age 16) Bothe helped her father in his small Teterow wood shop, then worked temporarily in a factory, then as a nurse in the hospital industry. In 1939 Bothe was a member of the League of German Girls and excelled athletically.
On January 21, 1945, the 24-years old Bothe accompanied a death march of women prisoners from central Poland to the Bergen Belsenconcentration camp near Celle. While en route to Bergen-Belsen she and the prisoners stayed temporarily at Auschwitz concentration camp, arriving at Belsen between February 20-26, 1945.
Once in the camp Bothe supervised a female wood brigade of 60 women prisoners. The camp was liberated on April 15, 1945.
She is said to have been the tallest woman arrested. Bothe also stood out from other Aufseherinnen because while most of the SS women wore black jack-boots, she was in ordinary civilian shoes.
The Allied soldiers forced her to place corpses of dead prisoners into mass graves adjacent to the main camp. She later recalled in an interview some 60 years later that while carrying the corpses they were not allowed to wear gloves and she was terrified of contracting typhus. She said the dead bodies were so rotten that the arms and legs tore away from the rest of the body when they were moved. She also recalled the emaciated bodies were still heavy enough to cause her considerable back pain. Bothe was arrested and taken to a jail at Celle.
At the Belsen Trial she was characterized as a "ruthless overseer" and sentenced to ten years in prison for using a pistol on prisoners. She was released early from prison on December 22, 1951 as an act of leniency by the British government.
During a rare interview that was broadcast in 2004 Bothe became defensive when asked about her decision to be a concentration camp guard. She replied,
“ What do you mean, made a mistake? No... I'm not quite sure I should answer that. Did I make a mistake? No. The mistake was that it was a concentration camp, but I had to go to it, otherwise I would have been put into it myself. That was my mistake
She was arrested by the army British on April 15 , 1945 and forced to bury the bodies of prisoners killed in the field by the epidemic of typhus.
On September 17 , 1945, is presented by the British in the so-called Bergen-Belsen Trial Court where the accused Josef Kramer and 44 other people who had worked at Auschwitz and Belsen, this trial was conducted at number 30 Lindenstraße, Luneburg. On November 17 , 1945, is sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Juana Borman (or Bormann) was born at Birkenfelde in East Prussia on September the 10th 1893. She was apparently deeply religious and had given up missionary work to join the SS.
She went to work at Lichtenburg, the first women’s concentration camp, as a civilian employee on the 1st of March 1938 and initially worked in the kitchens. She and the rest of the staff and inmates were transferred to Ravensbrück concentration camp when it opened in May 1939. Here she was as an Aufseherin (overseer). In March 1942 she moved on toAuschwitz concentration camp in Poland and then in October of that year was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In 1944, she went to the satellite camp at Hindenburg, before returning to Ravensbrück in January 1945. In March of that year she was sent to Bergen-Belsen, where she served under its commandant Josef Kramer. Like most of the defendants to stand trial for war crimes at Belsen she was arrested at the camp on the day it was liberated. The staff were remanded to the prison at Celle to await trial.
The Belsen Trial as it was called was conducted by the British Military Tribunal at No. 30 Lindentrasse, Lüneburg, in Germany from September 17th to November 17th, 1945 under court President Major-General H.M.P. Berney-Ficklin, sitting with five other officers.
The prosecution was in the hands of a team of four military lawyers. All the prisoners were tried together and sat in the large dock, each wearing a number on their chest. Juana wore the number 6 card. Like all the defendants she had the benefit of counsel, in her case, Major A S Munro and pleaded not guilty to the charge of committing a war crime. She was to hear allegations from former inmates that she beat prisoners, set her dogs on them and selected them for the gas chambers.
Jewish born Anni Jonas, from Breslau, accused Juana of pointing out prisoners to Dr. Mengele who looked too weak for work. They were then sent to the gas chamber.
Another Jewish woman, Dora Szafran, had been an inmate at Auschwitz since June 1943 and had witnessed Juana at selections for gassing with Dr. Klein. She also related to the court how she had seen Juana set her dog, which she thought was a German Shepherd, on a woman in a work detail who had a swollen leg and could not keep up on the march back from Auschwitz. The woman was badly savaged and was taken away on a stretcher. It is not known whether she survived. Dora stated to the court that Juana seemed proud of what she had done.
Polish born Hanka Rozenwayg<a></a> had been in Belsen for some 18 months before liberation also told the court that Juana had set her dog on prisoners and recounted an occasion when Juana had beaten her and several other women for lighting a fire in her hut without permission. She told the court that all the women inmates were afraid of Juana.
Another Pole, Peter Makar, related how he recognized Juana as the woman who had been in charge of the pigsties at Belsen and how he had twice witnessed her beating women in March 1945 who she had caught stealing vegetables.
Dora Silberberg accused Juana of beating her and a friend when she tried to stop her friend who was ill being forced to go to work. Juana had allegedly punched her in the face hard enough to knock out tow of Dora’s teeth. Juana then set the dog on Dora’s friend and it knocked her down and dragged her round by the leg. Dora’s friend died later form her injuries.
Alexandra Siwidowa accused Juana of beating prisoners for wearing their better clothes and also stripping them and making them perform strenuous physical exercises. When they began to flag, he told the court that she beat them all over the body with a rubber or wooden stick. Juana denied this outright.
Major Munro called Juana to give evidence in her defence. She told the court that she was a single woman and related her history of work in the concentration camps. Major Munro specifically asked her about her involvement in the selection process for gassing to which she replied “No, I never have been present at these selections, I had to be present at morning roll-call and night roll-call, but at nothing else”.
She admitted that she did have a dog at Belsen, which she claimed were her own pet rather than a camp guard dog, but denied that she had ever set it on prisoners, telling the court that this would have been against the camp rules and would have led to severe punishment for her. She also mentioned that another Aufseherin named Kuck, of whom there is no surviving record, resembled her and also had a dog. Juana dismissed the statements of two witnesses regarding her use of a wolfhound dog, telling the court that she had never owned a wolfhound.
She dismissed the statements of some witnesses as untrue on the basis that she was not in the place they stated at the time of the alleged offence. One, Helena Kopper, had told the court that Juana was the most hated guard in the camp and that she was in charge of the clothing store. She alleged that Juana had again set her dog on a young woman at the store who died later. Juana denied ever having been in charge of the clothing store and was not at Birkenau at the time.
She denied that she went out outside the camps on work Kommandos and agreed that she oversaw prisoners working at the piggery in Belsen.
She accepted that she slapped prisoners who were cheeky or disobedient but denied beating them with sticks etc. She mentioned that the first time she had ever seen a rubber truncheon it was in the hands of an British military policemen guarding her in the prison at Celle.
She could offer no explanation to Major Munro for the witness allegations against her. He also asked her if she had tried to leave the S.S. Juana told him that she had applied in writing to her Oberaufseherin in 1943 but that her application had been turned down.
She was cross-examinedby Colonel Backhouse who asked her if she was very much worse than all the other Aufseherinnen in her treatment of the internees? She replied that she did not know and only wanted to keep order.
He questioned her further on her attendance at selections and she told him that “ I did not have time to attend them, and I did not like the idea of attending them”. She denied having even seen a selection or ever having seen the crematorium. Colonel Backhouse also pressed Juana further on the dog issue. She insisted that the dog was a pet and her own property and that it had never been trained to attack prisoners.
He pointed out to her the testimony of another of the accused, Herta Ehlert, who said in her statement: “From my own knowledge of Juana Borman and from working with her I believe that the stories about her brutality to prisoners are true, although I have not myself witnessed it. I have often seen the dog which she had and heard she used to let it loose on prisoners. Although I have not seen it I can well believe it to be true.” Juana insisted that this was a lie.
Colonel Backhouse asked her about the pigs at Belsen, which she was in charge of when the camp was liberated. She told him that there were 52 pigs at the time and that were fed on a swill of potatoes and turnips. He pointed out to her that whilst the pigs were being fed reasonably well the prisoners were starving. She replied that she fed the pigs the food she was given for them.
The Judge Advocate questioned Juana about Aufseherin Kuck, (who was also alleged to have a dog) and one gets the impression that he did not really believe that this woman existed.
Juana was found not guilty on count one but guilty of count two of the indictment against her.
This was that : “At Auschwitz, Poland, between 1st October 1942 and 30th April 1945, when members of the staff at Auschwitz Concentration Camp responsible for the well-being of the persons interned there, in violation of the law and usages of war, were together concerned as parties to the ill-treatment of certain of such persons, causing the deaths of Rachella Silberstein (a Polish national), Allied nationals, and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown, and physical suffering to other persons interned there, Allied nationals, and particularly to Eva Gryka and Hanka Rosenwayg (both Polish nationals) and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown.”
Prior to her sentencing a mitigation speech was made on her behalf by Major Munro. He painted a picture of a sad and lonely middle aged woman and invited the court “to take into account what the conditions in concentration camps could do to weak human nature”.
This mitigation was not successful and on the afternoon of November 16th the verdicts were delivered, the President of the court passed the death sentence on Juana, Elizabeth Volkenrath and Irma Grese as follows : "No. 6 Bormann, 7 Volkenrath, 9 Grese. The sentence of this court is that you suffer death by being hanged."
The sentence was translated into German as "Tode durch den strang," literally death by the rope. She reportedly left the court as if in a dream but later chose not to appeal her sentence. She was returned to Lüneburg prison and when the cases and sentences had been reviewed she was transferred to Hameln jail on Sunday the 9th of December to await execution with the other condemned.
The hangings were set for Friday, December the 13th, 1945 and were to be carried out at half hour intervals starting at 9.34 a.m. with Irma Grese, who at 21, was the youngest of the condemned prisoners, followed by Elisabeth Volkenrath at 10.03 a.m. and Juana at 10.38 a.m.
Albert Pierrepoint described Juana during her last hours when he saw her on the afternoon prior to her execution. Each prisoner had to be weighed to allow him to calculate the correct drop.
He wrote in his autobiography how she limped down the corridor looking old and haggard. He said she was forty two years old (actually fifty three), only a little over five feet high and 101 lbs in weight. She was trembling as she was put on the scales. In German she said “I have my feelings”.
The drop was calculated at 5 feet 8 inches in view of her frail condition.
Born .05.09.1919r SS. in Swierzawa _(niem.Schönau). _hairstylist by profession .
October 1, 1942 she entered the SS and was sent to train the caretaker to Ravensbr ü ck.
Since March 1942, served in Auschwitz, and then from December 1942 in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In connection with the evacuation of Auschwitz (she left on 18 January 1945)
5 February came to Bergen-Belsen. Convicted by a British Military Court in L ü neburgu to death by hanging. Judgement made ??by Alfred Pierrepoint British executioner in a prison in Hameln 13.12.1945r. at 10:03
Was infamous for her important role in the Holocaust: as one of the top-ranking female officials at the Auschwitz-Birkenauextermination camp, she is believed to have been directly responsible for the orders to kill over 500,000 female Jews, Gypsies, and political prisoners.
Mandel was born in Munzkirchen, Austria . On October 15, 1938 she joined the camp staff at theLichtenburg, an early concentration camp in Saxony as an Aufseherin. There she worked with fifty other SS-women. On May 15, 1939, she and the other guards and prisoners were sent to the newly opened Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin. At Ravensbruck, she quickly impressed her superiors with her abuse and became an SS-Oberaufseherin in June 1942. At the camp she oversaw daily roll, assignment of her Aufseherinnen and punishments like beatings and floggings.
On October 7, 1942, Mandel was assigned to the Auschwitz II Birkenau camp in Poland where she became SS Lagerfuhrerin , or female commandant under SS Kommandant (commandant) Hoess. Mandel controled all of the female Auschwitz camps, as well as the female subcamps (Hindenburg, Lichtenwerden, Budy, Rajsko, etc).
Her power over the female prisoners was absolute, and over her subordinates. Maria took a liking to Irma Grese, whom she promoted to head of the Hungarian women's camp at Birkenau. Maria and her high ranking SS women would often stand at the gate into Birkenau and any inmate who turned and looked at her was taken out of the lines and never heard from again. In the Auschwitz camps, Maria was highly feared by the female prisoners and became known as "the Beast".
For the next two years she involved herself in selections and abuse. She would often choose out "pet" Jews for herself which she would keep from the gas chamber. Once she got sick of them, she sent them to their death. Maria is said to have taken special pleasure in selecting children to be killed. She created the Auschwitz orchestra to accompany rolls, executions, selection and transports.
With her pen in her hand, she signed away an estimated half a million women and children to their deaths in the gas chambers at Auschwitz I and II. In November, 1944, she was assigned to the Muhldorf subcamp of the Dachau concentration camp and Elizabeth Volkenrath became head of the crumbling Auschwitz empire of camps, which were liberated in early January 1945. In May, 1945, Maria fled from Muhldorf into the mountains of southern Bavaria. Soon after she entered her former birthplace at Munzkirchen, Austria.
United States armed forces personnel arrested Mandel on August 10, 1945 and interrogated her. They found her to be highly intelligent and very dedicated to her work in the camps. With much enthusiasm, they handed her over to Poland in November, 1946. In November, 1947, she stood trial in a Krakow courtroom and was sentenced to death. She was hanged on January 24, 1948, her last words being, "Long live Poland!"
Ravensbrück concentration camp near Furstenberg in Germany was the only major Nazi concentration camp for women and also served as a training base for female SS supervisors. Some 3,500 women underwent training there. They then worked in Ravensbrück or were sent to other camps. The camp was established in 1938 and liberated on April 30th, 1945 by the Russian Army. The estimated number of victims there were 92,000!
Sixteen members of the staff of were arrested and were tried between December 5th 1946 and February 3rd 1947 by a court in the British zone on charges of murder and brutality. All were found guilty on Monday, the 3rd of February 1947, except one, who died during the trial. Eleven were sentenced to hang, including five women, head nurse Elisabeth Marschall, Aufseherin Greta Bösel, Oberaufseherin Dorothea Binz and Kapos Carmen Mory and Vera Salvequart.
41 year old Mory cut her wrists during the night of April 9th with a razor blade she had concealed in her shoe and thus escaped the noose. She was buried within the prison grounds. Swiss born Mory was unusual in that she had worked as a spy for the French, the Nazis and finally the British before and during the War and had been sentenced to death by each in turn but always managed to dodge her execution, by good fortune on the first two occasions.
She was a prisoner in Ravensbrück, having been reprieved by the Nazis, and here she made the most of her situation by becoming a Kapo and spying on other prisoners and assisting the staff. Due to a shortage of personnel, the SS frequently used prisoners (Kapo’s) to supervise other non German inmates.
On the 2nd of May 1947, Albert Pierrepoint hanged the remaining three women, one at a time starting with Elisabeth Marschall who was nearly 61 years old, followed by 39 year old Greta Bösel at 9.55 a.m. and then by 27 year old Dorothea Binz.
Elisabeth Marschall had been born on the 24th of May 1886 and became a nurse in 1909. She rose to the rank of Oberschwester (Head Nurse) in the Revier (hospital) barracks at Ravensbrück. Here she maltreated sick prisoners and also took part in horrific experiments. She also made selections for the gas chambers.
Greta Bösel was born on May 9th, 1908 in Elberfeld, Germany and was a trained nurse. She went to work in Ravensbrück in August 1944. Her job was to supervise female working teams. She is supposed to have said: _"Let them rot if they can't work." _During her trial, she made contradictory statements about her role in selecting prisoners for the death camps.
Dorothea Binz had been born on the 16th of March 1920 in the town of Dulstarlake and had never married. She had joined the staff of Ravensbrück in April 1939 and worked as an Aufseherin in the women's camp before being promoted to Oberaufseherin. She was arrested inHamburg in May 1945 and came to trial at the first Ravensbrück trial.
The third woman, 28 year old Czechoslovakian born Vera Salvequart had not been an SS guard, but rather a prisoner herself in Ravensbrück. She was born on the 26th of November 1919 in Wonotsch and had trained as a nurse. She had also served several periods in prison. She claimed to have stolen plans for the V2 rocket and passed these to Britain. She was sent to KZ Ravensbrück in December 1944 and as a Kapo worked as a nurse in the camp's hospital wing. Here she was said to have administered poison in form of a white powder to some of the patients although most survived.
Vera Salvequart petitioned the King for a reprieve in view of her passing secrets to the British. She was granted a stay while this was considered but the Royal prerogative of mercy was withheld and on the 26th of June 1947 she followed the other three to the gallows, her body being buried with the rest in the grounds of Hameln prison.
The third Ravensbrück trial, the so called "Uckermark trial", was held between April 14th and April 26th 1948 to hear the cases of five women officials from the Uckermark concentration camp and extermination complex. This was a satellite camp that housed girls aged 16 – 21.
Two of the women were acquitted, two received prison terms but Ruth Closius was condemned to death. Ruth Closius, (married name Neudeck) was born in July 1920. She had belonged to the SS guard staff of Ravensbrück and had worked there in various capacities from the 3rd of July 1944, including work in the punishment barracks in late 1944.
She was promoted to Oberaufseherin (senior supervisor), at Uckermark in early 1945 and worked there until the camp was liberated. She was convicted of the torture and murder of men, women and children and of selecting prisoners for the gas chambers. She was hanged on the 29th of July 1948.
The seventh series of Ravensbrück trials was held between July 2nd and July 21st, 1948 to hear the cases of Aufseherin accused of maltreatment of prisoners and making selections for the gas chambers.
Two of the six were acquitted, two given prison terms and two sentenced to death. These were 60 year old Emma Zimmer, nee Menzel, and 36 year old Ida Bertha Schreiber (or Schreiter) who were hanged on the20th of September 1948. No other women were executed as result of the other Ravensbrück trials although others received death sentences which were later commuted to prison terms.
The bodies of the first 93 executed up to 1947 were originally buried at Hameln but transferred to Wehl cemetery in 1954. The bodies from the later 127 executions were interred directly at Wehl.
There she continued her activities. On December 1, 1944 Gerda was reassigned to the Bydgoszczsubcamp of Stutthof located near Danzig. There on January 25, 1945, she received a medal for her loyalty and service to the Third Reich. Gerda was devoted to her job in the camps and was known as a very ruthless overseer.
Soon after she fled the camp and went back home. On May 25, 1945, she was arrested by Polish officials and sent to prison. She stood trial with the other SS women and kapos and was handed down a sentence to death for her involvement in selections and what was perceived as her sadistic abuse. She was publicly hanged on July 4, 1946, on Biskupia Gorka Hill near Danzig.
**At the trial the SS-women behaved insolently. **
The central triple gallows. Commandant Johann Pauls hangs in the middle withGerda Steinhoff — one of the senior female guards — in the foreground. The line of five male kapos recedes behind them into the enormous crowd of onlookers.
**The accused with Polish guards at the location of the KZ Stutthof first row from left to right : Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker, Wanda Klaff second row : Gerda Steinhoff, Jenny Barkmann **
**The hands of the prisoners were tied behind their back and the feet were tied **together.
Kaethe Hoern was a female SS supervisor at two concentration camps from 1944 until April 1945.
The details about Kaethe Hoern are unknown. We do not know where or when she was born, all we know is that she was born in Germany. In 1944, however, Kaethe arrived at Ravensbruck to begin her training as a female SS guard.
She trained under Dorothea Binz, and soon became known among the female overseers as a "leader type." In the summer of 1944, Kaethe was given the title of Oberaufseherin in Ravensbruck, and assigned as head wardress to the Buchenwald subcamp near Allenburg , Germany. There she commanded up to twenty SS Aufseherin at one time, as well as over 400 women prisoners. In April 1945, Kaethe fled the Allendorf subcamp. In 1947 an American Tribunal tried the former head camp wardress for war crimes. Eventually she served seven years in prison for the maltreatment of concentration camp prisoners.
Born on in Essen-Kupferdreh, Germany, Johanna Langefeld later married and had a son. In 1940, she lost her husband on the Russian front and needed to support her and her son, so she volunteered to be a camp guard. She began her training in Ravensbrück, as she stated after the war, "to help the poorest of the poor."
In 1941, Johanna was promoted to SS Oberaufseherin and became head of all prisoners and female guards at Ravensbrück. Prisoners recounted Johanna with mixed feelings. She saved the life of a Polish woman who was to be executed, but showed no adverse reaction when a prisoner was beaten in front of her.
In March1942, Johanna was selected to become head of theAuschwitz I camp in newly occupied Poland. There she tried to take control of the women's camp and get absolute power. The then commandant, Rudolf Höß, did not accept this and the two butted heads. Höß was unimpressed by the women guards and saw them as incompetent and untrustworthy.
After the war, Höß recounted in his memoires that they had been:
"spoiled rotten in Ravensbrück. Everything had been done to persuade them to stay in the KZ women's auxiliary. They were given good food and extremely good lodging. They also made a salary which could never be met in civilian life. From their very first days in Auschwitz, many of them wanted to run back to the quiet and comfortable life of Ravensbrück. There were only three or four competent ones, and the rest were driven crazy by the others who ran around like excited chickens."
Höß also wrote that the morale among the female guards was low. Many of them eventually stood before an SS court for stealing from the camp's supply huts. Eventually Höß had enough of the power struggle and sent Langefeld back to Ravensbrück in October1942. That same month the Auschwitz women's camp was moved to the Auschwitz Birkenau camp 3 km away and Maria Mandel became the new female camp leader. Back at Ravensbrück Langefeld served as chief wardress along with several other women.
In April1943, Johanna became deputy wardress under Lagerführerin Erna Rose. In November1944, Langefeld began helping select out women in barracks to be gassed. In April 1945, Johanna successfully negotiated the release of over 1,000 female concentration camp prisoners to the Swedish Red Cross via Denmark. Along the way over thirty of the women died in air raids.
After the war Johanna was never prosecuted for war crimes. She was praised for her kindness and consideration in the camps, but attacked by Höß in his memoires. Johanna Langefeld died at her home in Augsburg, Germany on January 26, 1974, at the age of 73.
Margot Dreschel (or Drexler or Dreschler or Drechsel or Drexel,
born May 17, 1908) was a prison guard at concentration camps who was born in Neugersdorf, Germany.
Before her enlistment as an SS auxiliary, she worked at an office in Berlin. On January 31, 1941 Margot Dreschel arrived at Ravensbrück to begin guard training. At first she was an Aufseherin, a low-ranking female guard, at Ravensbrück (a concentration camp primarily for internment of women).
She trained under Oberaufseherin (Senior Overseer) Johanna Langefeld in 1941, and quickly became a Rapportführerin (Report Overseer), a higher ranked guard. On April 27, 1942, Dreschel was selected for transport to the newly opened Auschwitz I camp in Poland. She was very devoted to her work there and soon received the title SS-Obersturmführerin (Female Camp Leader) under SS-Lagerführerin Maria Mandel. Dreschel was also head of all camp offices in Auschwitz.
Dreschel's appearance was reportedly repellent, as one female Auschwitz prisoner recounted: "And Camp Leader Dreschel was there, her buck teeth sticking out, even when her mouth is closed." Inmates described her as vulgar, thin and ugly. After the war, many survivors testified of her brutal treatment.
She regularly moved between the Auschwitz I camp and Birkenau, and involved herself in selections of women and children to be sent to the gas chambers. On November 1, 1944 Margot went to Flossenbürg as a Rapportführerin. In January1945, she was moved back to the Ravensbruck subcamp at Neustadt-Glewe , and fled from there in April 1945 as NaziGermany fell. In May 1945, several former Auschwitz prisoners recognized Margot on a road from Pirna to Bautzen and took her to Russian Military Police. The Soviets condemned her to death and executed her in May or June 1945 by hanging in Bautzen.
Herta Ehlert (born Liess, married Ehlert, divorced Naumann)
Was a female guard at many Nazi camps during the whole period of World War II.
Herta (Hertha) was born as Hertha Liess in Berlin, Germany on March 26, 1905. She later married and became Hertha Ehlert. On November 15, 1939, Herta became a camp guard and trained inRavensbruck.
In October 1942 she was moved as an Aufseherin to the Majdanek camp near Lublin. There she served in a few of its subcamps in Lublin. A few SS officers there noticed that she was too lenient, polite and helpful to the prisoners, so the SS sent her back to Ravensbruck to undergo another training course, this time by Dorothea Binz.
During this time Herta divorced her husband and became Herta Ehlert. After the war Herta described the "training course" at Ravensbruck as "physically and emotionally demanding." Herta was later moved to Auschwitz as an Aufseherin where she oversaw hoards of women working on kommandos.
Herta later served as a guard at he subcamp in Rajsko, Poland. Herta finally arrived at Bergen Belsen where she became deputy wardress under Oberaufseherinnen Elisabeth Volkenrath and Irma Grese. When the British Army liberated the Belsen Camp, Herta was arrested and tried at the famous Belsen Trial. She was sentenced to fifiteen year in prison and release.
Gerda was devoted to her job in the camps and was known as a very ruthless overseer. Soon after she fled the camp and went back home. On May 25, 1945, she was arrested by Polish officials and sent to prison. She stood trial with the other SSwomen and kapos and was handed down a sentence to death for her involvement in selections and what was perceived as her sadistic abuse. She was publicly hanged on July 4, 1946, on Biskupia Gorka Hill near Danzig.
Gerda Steinhoff, female guard in a nazi concentration camp is being hanged (1946)
Between 25th April and 31th May before the Special Law Court at Danzig a trial was held against guards of the Stutthof Concentration Camp
The accused were :
1. Camp’s Commandant Johann Pauls – death by hanging 2. SS-Aufseherin Jenny Wanda Barkmann – death by hanging 3. SS-Aufseherin Elisabeth Becker – death by hanging 4. SS-Aufseherin Wanda Klaff – death by hanging 5. SS-Aufseherin Ewa Paradies – death by hanging 6. SS-Aufseherin Gerda Steinhoff – death by hanging 7. SS-Aufseherin a Beilhardt - 5 years in prison 8. Kapo Joseph Reiter – death by hanging 8. Kapo Waclaw Kozlowski – death by hanging 9. Kapo Franciszek Szopiñski – death by hanging 10. Kapo Jan Brajt – death by hanging 11. Sztubowy Tadeusz Kopczyñski – death by hanging 12. Kapo Kazimierz Kowalski – 3 years in prison 13. Kapo Aleksy Duzdal – not guilty 14. Kapo Jan Preiss – not guilty 15. Kapo Marian Zielkowski – died of a heart attack 25th August 1945 in prison
At the trial the SS-women behaved insolently. During the interruptions they giggled and joked. Jenny Barkmann changed her hair-do every day and flirted with the guards. When public prosecutor asked for capital punishment Klaff, Steinhoff, Becker and Paradies cried and pleaded for her life Only Jenny Barkmann remained calm .
The accused with Polish guards at the location of the KZ Stutthof first row from left to right : Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker, Wanda Klaff second row : Gerda Steinhoff, Jenny Barkmann (Click the picture to see detail of the women)
The gallows are waiting for the 6 men and 5 women sentenced to hang
SS-Guard Jenny Barkmann und her executioner ( in striped KZ uniform)
From right to left : SS-Guard Elisabeth Becker (sitting) , then Wanda Klaff (standing ) , Gerda Steinhoff (not visible) and 6 men (Kommandant Johann Pauls and 5 Kapos)
The priest speaks to Ewa Paradies, at the left (sitting) : Elisabeth Becker
The hands of the prisoners were tied behind their back and the feet were tied together
Right : Elisabeth Becker ( the executioner just passed the noose around her neck ) , left (standing) : Wanda Klaff
The SS-women sat on chairs and had their hands tied in the back . For the execution they were lifted up on the chairs , this was very difficult as they had their legs already tied at the ankles
A few moments before the execution : from right to left : Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker , Wanda Klaff, Gerda Steinhoff
The disposition of the gallows
The execution started at 5.00 pm
The prisoners were noosed and then pushed from the ramp of the trucks Jenny Barkmann has just been hanged and struggles at the end of the rope while Ewa Paradies is being noosed by her executioner. In the background (white dress): Wanda Klaff . Already hanging with the back to the camera ( dark blouse , white skirt) : Gerda Steinhoff
After the hanging of the Nazi war criminals
From left to right : Jenny Barkmann , Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker , Wanda Klaff , Gerda Steinhoff
Left : Gerda Steinhoff
Jenny Barkmann Ewa Paradies Elisabeth Becker Wanda Klaff und Gerda Steinhoff It seems that one picture of the execution appeared in an edition of TIME Magazine of July or August 1946 under the title :"Ladies first !"
The Polish press informed :
about 50 000 people (Dziennik Polski 5th July 1946) - this seems a little bit exagerated
several dozen thousands (Ilustrowany Kurier Polski no 186 12th July 1946)
great crowd (another paper) The information about the coming execution were given the day before, on 3th July 1946 (Wednesday), in the newspaper “Dziennik Baltycki”: “Stutthof’s war criminals will be publicly hanged in Gdañsk”.
Jenny Wanda Barkmann publicly hanged as a war criminal at the age of 24 (together with 4 other young women and 6 men)
It happened the 4th of July 1946 on the hill called Biskupia Gorka (Stolzenberg) near Danzig
There had been erected one triple gallows and 4 double gallows for the execution of the 6 men and 5 women
A huge crowd attended the executions
The prisoners were simply pushed off the platforms of the trucks. As they dropped only a short distance , this was a socalled "slow hanging" where the condemned died of strangulation . They probably remained conscious for many long minutes and they finally died after 15 minutes while their bodies struggled and quivered at the end of the rope .
Jenny Berkmann at the enquiry shortly after her arrest in May 1945 at the railway station Wrzeszcz near Danzig
Jenny Wanda Barkmann talking with her lawyers
She was accused of warcrimes committed in the Concentration Camp Stutthoff (Danzig) She was an ice-cold murderess and when the verdict fell she just said : "Life is a pleasure and usually pleasures are only short."
What a humiliating way to die ! Hanged as a war criminal in front of thousands of people
There because of her willingness to get her job done she was promoted to chief wardress (Oberaufseherin). In May1939 Jane went to Ravensbrück concentration camp as deputy to the head guard where she trained new comers into the SS women's auxiliary. Eventually Jane was posted to Gross-Rosen concentration camp in 1941 as chief wardress. After that she went back to Ravensbruck and again back to Gross-Rosen.
Soon after she served in the St. Lamprecht subcamp, and when the Americans came near the camp she was called back to serve at Mauthausen. Jane fled the camp in early May 1945 and has never been prosecuted for her war crimes.
Margarete Freinberger was born on June 11, 1919 in Grieskirchen , Austria. In September 1944, she was called to serve in the newly-opened women's section at the Mauthausen camp in Austria. Immediately, Margarete impressed her superiors with her cruelty, and she was promoted to chief wardress (Oberaufseherin). In November 1944, Margarete became second in charge of 500 women prisoners at the Lenzing subcamp, located close to Mauthausen. There she continued her abuse and cruelty. As the Americans swept through Austria she fled Lenzing. She was never prosecuted for her crimes in the Mauthausen and Lenzing camps.
Born in Vienna Austria to a well-off family. She finished school and dreamed of becoming a nurse, but to no avail. Hermine then tried to become a servant along with her sister in Holland, but this too turned up dry.
In the early 1940's Hermine was picked from her job at a Heinkel aircraft plant in Berlin and sent to be trained at Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin. There she was well known for stomping old women to death. In October 1942, the blue-eyed blonde was transferred to Majdanek death and concentration camp outside Lublin, Poland.
There she was promoted to assistant wardress under Oberaufseherin Elsa Erich along with five other women. Her abuse and sadism took many forms in the camp. She involved herself in "selections" of women and children to be sent to the gas chambers and beat to death several women with her whip. She even stomped many women to death, which gained her the nickname, "The Stomping Mare."
She was regarded as one of the worst Aufseherin in Majdanek next to Hildegard Lachert and Elisabeth Knoblich . In March 1944, after two years of service at Majdanek, Hermine was reordered back to Ravensbrück and Majdanek began evacuations.
In Ravensbrück Hermine was promoted to head of a work detail and in late 1944 Hermine was promoted to supervising wardress at the Genthin subcamp of Ravensbrück located outside Berlin. Witnesses say that there Hermine abused many of the prisoners with a special whip she carried. In May 1945, Braunsteiner fled the camp on the heels of the Soviet Red Army.
She then returned to Vienna, but soon left, complaining that there was not enough food there. On 6 May 1946, Braunsteiner was arrested by an Austrian court and imprisoned until 18 April 1947. She was again arrested on 7 of April 1948 for assassination, infanticide and manslaughter at Ravensbrück but once again released on 22 November 1949. None of these charges ever mentioned crimes in Majdanek.
Following her release from prison the Austrian government promised not to charge her with any additional crimes and granted her amnesty. During the following years she worked at hotels and restaurant. She met an American soldier called Russell Ryan who became her fiancé. In 1959 Hermine Braunsteiner married Ryan, now a business man in Queens, New York.
This granted her US citizenship on 19 January 1963. Within five years time, she had been discovered. One account of her discovery holds that the famous Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal discovered her real identity and reported this to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.
However, in his memoirs, former New York Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld writes that, when he was a young reporter at the Times, Wiesenthal alerted the paper to the possibility that Braunsteiner had married a man named Russell Ryan and was living in Maspeth , a neigborhood of the borough of Queens in New York City. By tracking down women named "Mrs. Ryan," Lelyveld eventually arrived at Braunsteiner's house. He writes that she greeted him at her front doorstep and said, "my God, I knew this would happen. You've come."
In 1971 the Department of Justice began to strip Hermine Ryan of her citizenship because she was an alien of "questionable quality." During the next year Hermine as well as her husband sat in a US court in Queens hearing survivors' testimonies against the former SS guard.
Finally on 14 March 1973, Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan became the first Nazi criminal ever to be extradited by the U.S. She stood trial in West Germany with 15 other former SS men and women from Majdanek. One of the witnesses against Hermine testified that she "seized children by their hair and threw them on trucks heading to the gas chambers."
Others told of her beating women to death with a whip. One witness told of Hermine and the steel-studded jackboots with which she dealt blows to inmates. On 30 May 1980 the 61 year old former SS woman was given a life sentence for her overall sadistic acts at the Majdanek camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan died in April 1999 after being released from prison in 1996 after coming down with diabetes.
IT is hardly surprising the little old lady preferred not to talk about events from the 1940s.
Today "nice, sweet" Elfriede Rinkel is partially blind, walks with a stick and is enjoying her golden years in a nondescript town in her native Germany.
For nearly half a century, the pensioner lived a comfortable life married to a Jewish man in America. But Rinkel, now 85, was also living a hideous lie.
Her astonishing secret was that she was once a guard at a Nazi concentration camp where 90,000 Jews and others perished.
Her husband, who had fled the Holocaust for the US, died in 2004. Mercifully, he never knew about his wife's shocking past. For Rinkel, a striking young woman during the Second World War, had patrolled the women's labour camp at Ravensbruck north of Berlin with SS-trained attack dogs.Every day female SS guards would use the dogs to force starved women to and from slave labour sites.
But she had earlier told a researcher: "I did nothing wrong."
Rinkel was deported to Germany in 2006 after telling US investigators that she never used her dog against prisoners and never forced them into marches. She did admit being assigned to the Ravensbruck camp and said she went to work there as a dog handler because the wages for camp guards were better than those in her previous factory job.
But investigator Eli Rosenbaum said of the kind-looking woman he interviewed in the US: "No statement of remorse was volunteered to me. "She shed no tears as her past was exposed." Rinkel's lawyer Alison Dixon said: "She married a Jewish man and gave to Jewish charities. "She was trying to atone for her actions."
Her husband, Russell Ryan, a US air force mechanic who met her while serving in Germany, told a journalist in 1964: "My wife, sir, wouldn't hurt a fly." Yet at Braunsteiner's 1975 trial in Germany, a witness told how she "seized children by their hair and threw them on trucks heading to the gas chambers".
_She was convicted of murdering 80 people, abetting the murder of 102 children and collaborating in the murder of 1,000 people. _She received two life sentences but she was released in 1996 after she developed diabetes and had to have a leg amputated.
She died in 1999.
Historian Kathrin Kompisch said: "The fact is women were involved at all levels of the Third Reich's most infamous and brutal crimes.
"There were always choices, even within the Third Reich, and women often made their own choices as much as men.
In October 1942, Gertrud was one of several women, including Hermine Braunsteiner to arrive at the Majdanek camp near Lublin as an Aufseherin. Gertrud stayed in the camp until January 1944 when she accompanied a transport of women to Plaszów, a small slave-labor camp on the outskirts of Kraków. Soon after Gertrud was assigned to guard on the death march to theAuschwitz-Birkenau camp to the west. From there she guarded an evacuation train in October 1944 to the Neuengammeconcentration camp near Hamburg, Germany.
In November 1944, Gertrud Heise was promoted to Oberaufseherin and sent to the Obernheide subcamp of Neuengamme. There, she and commandant Hille commanded over 500 women, as well as six [known] SS women. Irmentraut Reidel, Anita Schneider, Wilma Unmuth, a woman named Augusta, a woman named Kaete and a brutal woman overseer whom the prisoners referred to as 'Pferd' ("Horse") are known to history.
Heise fled from Obernheide in April 1945 with the evacuation of the women prisoners to Bergen-Belsen. Gertrud was later captured byBritish soldiers and interrogated. The young camp guard was then placed on trial for war crimes. On May 22, 1946 a British court handed her a sentence of seven years imprisonment for war crimes.
They regularly loaded trucks of women for the gas chamber. When a child was left over the two would throw the children on the top of the adults like luggage and bolt the door shut. Orlowski would often be waiting when new transports of women arrived. The guard would then whip them, especially across the eyes. In Majdanek, Orlowski was promoted to the rank of Kommandofuhrerin (Work Detail Overseer) in the sorting sheds.
The SS woman had over 100 women under her supervision, who sorted through stolen items from gassed prisoners; watches, furs, coats, gold, jewellery, money, toys, glasses, etc. When the camp was evacuated, the Nazis sent Orlowski to the Plaszow camp near Krakow, Poland.
In early January 1945, Orlowski was one of the SS women posted on the death march to Auschwitz Birkenau and it was during this time that her behaviour, previously noted as being brutal and sadistic, became more humane. On the death march in mid-January 1945 from Auschwitz to Loslau , Orlowski gave comfort to the inmates, and even slept with them on the ground outside, and not in beds like Germans were entitled to. She also brought water to those who were thirsty. It is unknown why her attitude changed, but some speculate that she sensed the war was almost over and she would soon be a war criminal.
Orlowski eventually ended up at Ravensbruck as a guard. After the war ended in May 1945, Orlowski was captured by Sovietforces and extradited to Poland to stand trial for war crimes. The "picture book SS woman" stood accused at the Auschwitz Trial in 1947. Because of her brutality she was given a sentence of life imprisonment. She was released in 1957 after serving only ten years. In 1975West Germanytracked Orlowski down and placed her on trial in the third Majdanek Trial . She died during the trial in 1976 at the age of 73.
The information pertaining to the birthplace, birthdate and camp service of Alice Orlowski was found in Daniel Patrick Brown's book "THE CAMP WOMEN The Female Auxiliaries Who Assisted the SS in Running the Nazi Concentration Camp System" page 185.
The facts pertaining to Alice's crimes in Majdanek came from Simon Wiesenthal's book "Justice Not Vengence."
The facts about Alice's attitude on the death march came from Malvina Graf's book "I survived the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp."
Her rank was "Arbeitseinsatzführerin" (Work Escorting Overseer). This gave her absolute power over the thousands of women working in the nearby factories and on farms. She could beat, kick, slap, punch, whip and murder any woman at will. In November1944,
Greta was one of a few female guards to select out women for the gas chamber. Every week she would help pick out sick, weak, old or frail women and children and have them sent to Uckermark where they were poisoned, drowned, suffocated or sent to the gas chambers.
After the death march went out of Ravensbrück, Greta fled the camp with her husband. She was later caught and arrested by British troops. Greta, along with Margarete Mewes and Dorothea Binz stood accused at the Ravensbrück Trial which took place between December 1946 and February 1947 in Hamburg, Germany. The court found her guily of maltreatment, murder and taking part in "selections." Greta Mueller was executed in a prison in Hameln, Germany on May 2, 1947.
Margarete Mewes was born in Furstenberg , Germany on February 14, 1914. The town of Furstenberg was founded just fifty so miles north of Berlin and established along a lake (the Schwedt-See).
Just across from the city of Furstenberg, the Nazis sent 500 male inmates from Sachsenhausen in November 1938 to begin counstruction of a new concentration camp called Ravensbruck.
In early 1939, Margarete applied to be a female guard at the camp just across the small lake from her home town, which was still under construction. She was accepted and began training on July 1, 1939. Margarete soon graduated from her courses and served as an Aufseherin in Ravensbruck, while bouncing back to her home town after her duties were done each day.
Though female guards were not allowed to talk about what happened in the camp, sometimes information would slip out. Maragrete served in her position until the Soviets closed in on Ravensbruck, then accompanied the death march west.
Born to a middle classGerman family in Dusterlake, Germany (near Fürstenberg and Ravensbrück itself), Binz went to school until the age of fifteen. Afterwards she spent some time as a maid but soon dreaded her job and applied with a local SS office and was sent to Ravensbrück on September 1, 1939 to undergo guard training.
Binz served as an Aufseherin under OberaufseherinJohanna Langefeld, Maria Mandel, a woman named Small, and Erna Rose. She worked in various parts of the camp; in the kitchen, laundry, etc. Her one single duty after 1942 was overseeing the camp's bunker where women prisoners were tortured and killed.
In January 1943, Dorothea Binz was promoted to Stellvertretende Oberaufseherin (Deputy Chief Wardress) because of her unyielding abuse. As a member of the command staff, she oversaw the training and assigned duties to over 1,000 female guards between 1943 and 1945. "Thea" trained some of the most cruel female guards including Ruth Closius.
Most of the SS Aufseherin went on to dedicate themselves to over 200 other women camps across Poland, Germany, Austria and far eastern France. Eventually the well seasoned female matron reigned over a concentration camp kingdom of over 100,000 women and child prisoners.
Binz's behavior in the Ravensbrück camp was atrocious. The young woman beat, slapped, kicked, shot, whipped, stomped and abused the women continuously. Whenever she appeared at roll call, "silence fell." She always carried a whip in her hand as well as a big German Shepherd on a leash. At a moment's notice she would kick a woman to death, or select her to be killed. French prisoners nicknamed her "La Binz" (The Binz).
The young SS woman also had a boyfriend in the camp, an SS officer named Edmund Bräuning . The two would go on romantic walks around the camp and watch a woman get flogged. Then they would stroll away laughing. The two lived in a house right outside the camp walls together until Edmund was transferred to Buchenwald in late-1944. There is even one report that Binz used an axe to chop a Polish prisoner to death on a wood chopping kommando.
She is believed to have spent her childhood in Hamburg, Germany. In 1944, she became an_Aufseherin_ in the Stutthof SK-III women's camp, where she brutalized prisoners, some to death. She also selected women and children for the gas chambers. She was so severe the women prisoners nicknamed her the Beautiful Specter.
Barkmann fled Stutthof as the Soviets approached. She was arrested in May 1945 while trying to leave a train station in Gda?sk, incarcerated and became a defendant in the Stutthof Trial. She is said to have flirted with her prison guards and was apparently seen arranging her hair while hearing testimony. She was found guilty, after which she declared, "Life is indeed a pleasure, and pleasures are usually short."
On July 4, 1946 at 5.00 p.m. justice was carried out on the 24 years old woman. In Biskupia Gorka (Stolzenburg) a huge crowd had come to see justice done. Jenny wore dark stockings under a simple dress. She was placed on a truck, her hand were tied on her back and her ancles were tied together. She was noosed. As the truck drove away Jenny had nothing but air to step on. Dangling before the crowd she twiched her hands on the back and her feet at each other. She lost one shoe while the other remained on her toes. When she turned limp, her hair hung down in her face.
Born on February 20, 1908 in Ibbenbüren , Germany as Erna Hermann. The middle aged woman joined the command staff at Ravensbrück sometime before 1944. As an Oberaufseherin, Erna had endless power under the male commandant to command her SS Aufseherinnen their position each day and oversee the prisoners camp. Her assistant was Dorothea Binz and her only superiors were the commandant, Lagerführerin and Chef Oberaufseherin. After the war Erna was never captured, or prosecuted for her crimes.
Ruth Closius was born to an ethnic German family in Breslau, Poland on July 5, 1920. Ruth later married and became Ruth Neudeck.
In July 1944 she arrived at the Ravensbrück camp to begin her training to be a camp guard. Ruth soon began impressing her superiors with her unbending brutality towards the women prisoners, so she was promoted to the rank of Blockführerin (Barrack Overseer) in late July 1944. In the Ravensbrück camp, Ruth was known as one of the worst female guards.
One former prisoner commented after the war that she had seen wardress Neudeck "cut the throat of an inmate with the sharp edge of her shovel." In December 1944, Ruth was promoted to the rank of Oberaufseherin and moved to the Uckermark extermination complexdown the road from Ravensbrück. There she involved herself in the selection and execution of over 5,000 women and children.
The prisoners were also mistreated by Ruth or her SSAufseherinnen. In March 1945, Ruth became head of the Barth subcamp. In late April 1945, Ruth fled from the camp. She was later captured and put in prison while the British Army investigated her crimes. In April 1948, Ruth stood accused at the third Ravensbrück Trial along with other SS women.
The twenty-eight year old former SS supervisor confessed to all the accusations of murder and maltreatment in her deposition. She was quoted as saying, "As I took over the Uckermark camp, there were approximately 4,000 prisoners of all nationalities present.
When I was reposted after approximately 6 weeks later, only 1,000 prisoners were remaining. During my activity approximately 3,000 women were selected for the gas chamber accordingly." The British court found her guilty of war crimes and executed her on July 29, 1948..
The majority of the information about the birthplace and birthdate of Ruth was found in Daniel Patrick Brown 's book "THE CAMP WOMEN The Female Auxiliaries Who Assisted the SS in Running the Concentration Camp System"
Born in Strela, Germany on March 10, 1908, Else became an Aufseherin in 1944 at Ravensbruck, a female concentration camp near Berlin. Because the commandant took a liking to her from the start, Else was promoted to head of the camp as a Oberaufseherin (Chief Wardress), then Lagerleiterin (Camp Leader).
Her power over the camp was absolute, and she had only one supervisor, the commandant. Else commanded the camp threw mass executions and disease epedemics. She also commanded the over 60,000 women and children inmates, as well as over 1,000 female guards. Immediately under her were the Oberaufseherinnen, and her assistant was Dorothea Binz. Else served in her position until the camp was evacuated. Else then fled and went back to her family in Strehla. She has never been prosecuted for the 92,000 deaths that took place in Ravensbruck.
Arts was born in Tilburg, Netherlands sometime between 1920 and 1924. In 1932 she attended a boarding school in Germany where she joined the Nazis' Bund Deutscher Mädel ("League of German Girls") and she met and fell in love with Franz Ettlinger. Arts later became a waitress in the Netherlands while her lover went to Germany to become a Nazi SS officer.
After having joined the SS, Arts's lover, Ettlinger, served in numerous Nazi concentration camps, including Flossenburg and Auschwitz, finally ending up in Vught in the Netherlands in 1943 as head of the transport department. There, he persuaded Arts to join the concentration camp staff so they could be together. She did, and in 1943 the SS sent her to Ravensbruck to undergo guard training. In mid-1943 she returned to Vught and the two lovers were reunited.
<a></a>Suze Arts's cruelty
In January 1944, Arts took part in the torture and murder of 10 women at Vught which became known as the Bunker Tragedy. In June and July 1944 Arts was assigned to work in Ravensbruck where she continued her severe abuse towards the camp's female prisoners.
<a></a>Trial and prosecution
Arts fled the Ravensbruck camp in April 1945. In 1948 the Dutch government found and captured Suze Ettlinger (nee Arts) and placed her on trial for war crimes committed at the Vught and Ravensbruck concentration camps. She was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment but she was released in 1953, after having served only a third of her sentence.
In 1943 she received an award from the Nazis for her camp service. While stationed in Malchow, she was directly responsible for the death of a young girl, among many other sadistic crimes against humanity. She also became Oberaufseherinin Malchow in January 1945 when she arrived.
At the end of the war in 1945, Luise tried to quietly slip into obscurity, but was later discovered and put on trial in 1946 by the Poles for crimes that she had committed while on duty in the vast camp system.
At her trial she was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was then released early in 1956. Then again, in 1996, Luise Danz was tried in a German court for the Malchow concentration camp charge, resulting in the death of the young girl. This court case is still going on today at the present time in 2005. Luise Danz, who is still alive today, is 88 years old.
Anna was one of the few guards who was selected to serve at the Allendorf subcamp of Buchenwald, near Leipzig, Germany. Soon after, Anna Fest was assigned to the Soemmerda subcamp of Buchenwald.
She fled there in April 1945. In 1947, a US War Crimes Tribunal placed Anna Fest on trial for crimes in the three camps. She was later acquitted of all charges and released. She later wrote a portion of the book, "Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich" recalling her story as a camp guard, and as a woman under the Nazi Regime.
Little is known about Erna Petermann, other than that she trained at the men's camp at Mittelbau-Dora sometime in 1944. The SS promoted Peterman to the rank of Lagerführerin (Female Camp Commandant) under a male commandant. Later, Peterman was transferred as Female Camp Commandant to the Gross Werther subcamp in the Harz Mountains.
When Gross Werther was liberated by the Allies, Petermann fled the camp and went into hiding. Her whereabouts were not located and therefore it was not possible to question her regarding possible involvement with war crimes. Her subsequent history and post-war activities remain unknown as of 2010.
**The accused with Polish guards at the location of the KZ Stutthof first row from left to right : Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker, Wanda Klaff second row : Gerda Steinhoff, Jenny Barkmann **
The priest speaks to Ewa Paradies, at the left (sitting) : Elisabeth Becker
A few moments before the execution : from right to left : Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker , Wanda Klaff, Gerda Steinhoff
From left to right : Jenny Barkmann , Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker , Wanda Klaff , Gerda Steinhoff
She oversaw between ten and thirty female police and over 20,000 female Jewish prisoners. Neumann also aided in the deportation of more than 40,000 women and children from the camp to the Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen camps, where most were killed.
The tasks of the female overseers in Theresienstadt was to guard women prisoners at work on "labour kommandos," during transports to other camps, and in the ghetto itself. Most were cruel and abusive, especially Caecilia Rojko, who was nicknamed the "Prisoners' Fright," and Hildegard Mende, whom gained the nickname "Beast".
Neumann fled the camp in May 1945, and was never prosecuted for war crimes, even though more than 100,000 Jews were deported from Theresienstadt and were murdered or died there, and 55,000 died in the camp itself.
(b. August 2, 1923, Rabenhorst, Germany) was a female Nazi and aconcentration camp guard. It is unclear in her file when Jürß became a camp guard (estimated between 1942 and 1944).
She went to Ravensbrück concentration camp where she was trained as an Aufseherin and served in several capacities. She was later promoted to the rank of Blockführerin, and had over 600 women under her control. She was reportedly a brutal block overseer in the camp. In October 1944 she was relieved from duty and went back home.
She was not tracked down until 1966, and until then, lived quietly in East Germany. That year, a court brought charges against her for war crimes. An East German court found her guilty and sentenced her to life imprisonment. Jürß was released in May, 1991. It is not known whether she is still alive.
Emma Zimmer was born as Emma Anne Mezel in Schlüchtern. On June 1, 1943, already over 50 years old, she was granted permission to stay on staff as a female overseer at Ravensbrück, despite her age.
She was the first chief woman officer at Ravensbrück from 1939-1941. She took an active part in the selection of internees to be gassed during 1941 at the Bernberg Euthanasia Center near Berlin. Zimmer served as a guard at Ravensbrück and was known in the camp as a brutal and sadistic guard.
Emma Zimmer stood trial at the seventh Ravensbrück Trial and was sentenced to death for her war crimes. She was hanged on September 20, 1948. She was 60 years old.
In April 1945, the guards at the small camp evacuated the women in the face of the U.S. Army. Hildner was one of several guards on thedeath march who took part in mistreatment and murder of several young girls with her rod. She also accompanied the march into Zwodau, another subcamp of Flossenbürg, located in Czechoslovakia.
Several days later the march left there and headed into western Czechoslovakia. In very early May 1945, the SS men and female overseers fled the march site. Hildner melted into the hordes of refugees, escaping temporarily.
In March 1947, however, Czechoslovakian police arrested her and put her in prison. On May 2, 1947, aged 27, she was tried in the Extraordinary People's Court in Písek, Czechoslovakia. She was found guilty and hanged for war crimes the same day.
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1919, she moved to Germany sometime afterwards. She was first arrested in 1941 for having a relationship with aJewish man and for refusing to divulge his whereabouts to the Gestapo.
She served 10 months in a prison in Flossenbürg concentration campfor that, and then in 1942, she was again arrested for another relationship with a Jew and served another two years in prison. On December 6, 1944, she was arrested on charges of helping five detained officers escape, and was then sent to Ravensbrück, which had become a death camp for female prisoners at that point in the war.
Due to a shortage of personnel the SS frequently used German prisoners to supervise other inmates, and Vera was among those chosen to serve, likely due to her pre-war training as a nurse. She served in the camp's medical wing as a nurse during her stay, and oversaw the gassing of thousands of women. Vera's job was to fill out death certificates for the dead, and inspect their cadavers for gold teeth, which were kept to finance the war effort.
By February 1945, she was reportedly taking a more active role in the killings; now she was poisoning the sickly in the medical wing to avoid the effort of having to transport them to the gas chambers. Though former prisoners testified about this active role, Vera herself would only confess to her earlier duties filling out death certificates at her trial.
After Ravensbrück was liberated by the Soviet Union in April 1945, Vera was captured, as well as the others who had served there, and held for military trials dubbed the Ravensbrück Trials. At the trials, Vera went on record stating:
I remember that the sick had no trust in the beginning because they thought that I took part in the mass murdering. I must say that in their place, I would have had the same impression. I was locked up without interruption, couldn't go anywhere alone, and all they knew about me was that I lived there where they murdered so many people. Additionally, the prisoners saw when I entered the washroom in the case of Schikovsky; they heard the woman scream and therefore assumed that I was part of the murder.
In her own defense, she claimed that she had acted in a benevolent fashion towards the prisoners, and described how she saved some women and children from death by substituting their camp identification number with that of those already dead.
She claimed to have kept one infant hidden and had male prisoners bring food and milk for him. For suspected insubordination, she claimed, the SS had threatened to send her to the gas chambers herself, until several male prisoners who appreciated what she did, disguised her as a male prisoner; a guise she kept up until the end of the war at which point the allies found her en route to a camp for released prisoners.
Salvequart appealed for clemency on the basis of having stolen schematics for the V2 rockets being produced at the camp prior to 1944, hoping to smuggle it to the British; she was granted a temporary reprieve while this was taken into consideration, but on June 26, 1947, she was hanged (aged 27) for her roles in the running of the camp, and her body was buried with the other executed bodies at Wehl Cemetery in Hameln.
First Vera was imprisoned by the Germans, then hanged by the British
Vera was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint on June 26, 1947. She was then 27 years old.
Therese Rosi Brandel been born in Bavaria in February 1902 and began training at Ravensbrück in 1940.
She worked as an SS Aufseherin in KZ Ravensbrück before transferring to Auschwitz in 1942 and then to the KZ Muehldorf (a satellite camp of Dachau). She beat her prisoners and made selections for the gas chambers. In 1943, she received the war service medal for her work there. She was arrested on the 29th of August 1945 in the Bavarian mountains
She was born on the 27th of October 1902 in the town of Damner and married in 1934.The marriage was childless and soon ended in divorce.
From 1937 to 1942, she worked in Berlin in the aircraft industry before becoming an SS Aufseherin in the KZ Ravensbrück.
From March 1943 until January 1945, she worked in the KZ Auschwitz Birkenau. She beat her prisoners (women and children) and participated in the selections for the gas chambers.
She was arrested on the 6th of June 1945 and brought to trial on the 6th of July 1948 at the district court in Krakow where she was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging.
She was executed on the 8th of January 1949 at 7.05 a.m. in the Montelupich prison in Krakow. Her body was also taken to the Medical School at the University of Krakow for use as an anatomical specimen by the medical students.
There are records of at least three other women who were executed. Else Lieschen Frieda Ehrich, who had been the women's camp commandant at Majdanek concentration camp, was hanged on the 26th of October 1948 in the prison at Lubin in Poland.
Sydonia Bayer. Virtually nothing is known about this woman other that she trained at Ravensbrück and was tried and hanged in Poland.
41 year old Carmen Mory cut her wrists during the night of April 9th with a razor blade she had concealed in her shoe and thus escaped the noose. She was buried within the prison grounds.
Swiss born Mory was unusual in that she had worked as a spy for the French, the Nazis and finally the British before and during the War and had been sentenced to death by each in turn but always managed to dodge her execution, by good fortune on the first two occasions.
She was a prisoner in Ravensbrück, having been reprieved by the Nazis, and here she made the most of her situation by becoming a Kapo and spying on other prisoners and assisting the staff. Due to a shortage of personnel, the SS frequently used prisoners (Kapo’s) to supervise other non German inmates.
Wanda Klaff (nee Kalacinski) was of German origin but had been born in Danzig on the 6th of March 1922. When she left school in 1938 she initially worked in a jam factory, leaving in 1942 to get married to one Willy Gapes and becoming a housewife.
In 1944 Wanda joined the staff at Stutthof satellite camp at Praust, moving later to Russoschin sub-camp. She contracted typhoid and was hospitalised in Danzig where she was arrested on the June the 11th, 1945. It would appear form the photos that Wanda, unlike the other four, was hanged by a woman, rather than a male former camp inmate.
What is known is that she took the place of former chief wardress Martha Dell'Antonia in late 1944 or early 1945. When the small camp was evacuated, Helga rode on a bike alongside commandant Alois Doerr.
The two were also reportedly lovers. After the guards fled the march, Helga was captured by United States troops and confessed to accusations of maltreatment of prisoners. She also stated that she was not in the SS, nor were her female overseers below her.
Helga Schneider remembers watching her mother decorate the family Christmas tree with home-baked biscuits shaped into swastikas and Nazi SS insignia before she deserted their Berlin home during the Second World War.
Yet Mrs Schneider did not discover the shocking reason for their parting until 30 years later. She was only four when he mother left in 1941 and she spent the rest of her childhood in orphanages after being rejected by her father.
In 1971, she traced her mother to a flat in Vienna. It was not a happy reunion. Her mother tried to give her a fistful of gold trinkets as a present. Then she opened a wardrobe where a uniform was hanging among the clothes. "Try it on - it probably fits you," said her mother. Suddenly, the terrible truth began to dawn on Mrs Schneider.
The uniform was that worn by women SS guards at the Auschwitz death camp where 1.5 million people were systematically exterminated during the war. The gold jewellery had been stolen from the victims. Her mother told her daughter and five-year-old grandson Renzo that she had served as a camp warden "with pride".
She recounted with relish how she had escorted Jewish prisoners to the gas chambers - singing songs with the children to pretend that they were on an outing - or to be subjected to gruesome medical experiments conducted by Nazi doctors under the camp's infamous "Angel of Death", Dr Josef Mengele.
"When we met again, my mother believed that she could somehow make up for all that lost time by offering me a present of gold jewellery stolen from Jews before they were sent to the gas chambers," Mrs Schneider, 65, told The Telegraph last week from her home in Bologna, Italy.
"I was appalled and disgusted. Until then, I had never known why she deserted me during the war or what had become of her. I thought she had gone off with another man."
Mrs Schneider's attempts to come to terms with her mother's past is the subject of her autobiography, Let Me Go Mother, published in Germany last week.
It is a harrowing account of a woman who wanted desperately to find her mother, only to discover that she was "the mother I never wanted to have".
Her book breaks new ground by providing a shocking insight into one of the small-time perpetrators of Nazi evil during the Third Reich. It became a bestseller in Italy where it was published last year.
Mrs Schneider, who looks younger than her 65 years, has the blonde hair and blue eyes of her mother, but her expression betrays an inner sadness. She refuses to disclose her mother's name, fearing that her other relatives would be hounded by the media. Mrs Schneider broke off their first meeting, in 1971, after 40 minutes because she was too shocked to continue. "I was so upset that I just fled back to Bologna," she said.
She summoned the courage to confront her again in 1998, on learning that her mother was ill. "I felt that I had to find out who my mother really was," she said.
In the meantime, Mrs Schneider had read a dossier on her mother held by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Vienna which traces Nazi war criminals. It revealed that her mother had spent three years in prison after the war for her role as an Auschwitz guard. She had been sentenced by the Russian forces who liberated the camp.
What followed was a disturbing two-hour encounter at an Austrian nursing home where her mother, then 87, was spending her last days. The old woman remained unrepentant about her past. Her mother revealed that she had learned her trade at the Sachsenhausen and Ravensbruck concentration camps before being sent to Auschwitz, where she perfected the SS "virtue" of mercilessness. She had assisted in medical experiments carried out on Jewish prisoners.
"She told me how she took the victim's temperatures and strapped them down before operations. She never showed the slightest remorse. In fact, she appeared proud of what she had done. "She recounted with pleasure how she had sent one inmate to the prison hospital, to be given a lethal phenol injection straight into her heart, because the prisoner had stolen something from her."
One of her mother's jobs was to accompany women inmates and children to the gas chambers. Her mother said: "The babies were the ones who died immediately. We pulled some out and their bodies were bright blue."
What did her mother think about this? "A few more Jewish brats out of the way," Mrs Schneider was told. She also recalled the Jewish draper's wife from the Berlin suburb of Niederschoenhausen, where she once lived, who was sent to Auschwitz.
Mrs Schneider's mother told her: "You won't believe it but she spent the whole time bawling about her three children." What had become of them, her daughter asked. "They ended up in the gas chambers," came the reply.
The reunion of mother and daughter appears to have been a doomed attempt to re-create a relationship that existed only in blood. At first, the mother even insisted that Mrs Schneider could not be her real daughter because she was "such an old bag".
Then she ordered Helga to call her "mother" and, weeping, wrapped her arms around her. "I had to tear myself away," said the daughter. "That's why I've called my book Let Me Go Mother."
Mrs Schneider never saw her again. Last year she discovered that her mother had died, aged 92, at a nursing home in southern Austria. "It may seem strange," she added, "but I felt deserted for a second time."
Was born on 2nd September 1922 in Neusalz, Silesia. She worked in a factory until conscripted into the SS Labor Service on 17th August 1944. She was posted to the Langenbielau Labor Camp for six weeks training as a supervisor after which she returned to her firm in Grunberg as a supervisor of inmates at Guben nearby. She was evacuated from there at the end of January 1945 arriving at Belsen on 17th February where she was detailed to supervise staff and inmates in the No.1 kitchen. She was supervised by Ehlert who in turn was supervised by Volkenrath. Ilse was accused of beating an inmate. She was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
** FORSTER, Ida:**
Was the older sister of Ilse and was born 15th May 1902 in Blumendorf, Silesia. She worked in a textile factory in Rohrsdorf until she was conscripted into the SS Labor Service on 16th August 1944. She was posted to the Gross-Rosen Labor Camp as a supervisor of female labor. On 16th February 1945 she was evacuated to Kratzau, then four days later sent to Belsen arriving there on 28th February where she was detailed to supervise inmates in kitchen No.3. She was found not guilty of any crime and released.
was born 16th April 1909 in Schmiedenburg, Silesia. She never married, and worked in the AEG factory in Zillertau during the period 1939-45. She had been conscripted into the SS Labor Service and sent to Langenbielau for three and a half weeks training, then posted back to the AEG factory as a supervisor in charge of prisoner workers. In February 1945 she was evacuated to Morgensten, then to Grosswehter and then Belsen where she arrived on 13th April 1945. She was found not guilty of any crime and released.
Was born 13th December 1921 in Eimenbug. She was employes as a laboratory assistant and conscripted into the SS Labor Service in August 1941 and sent for for days training at Ravensbruck, after which she was posted to the Stutthof Labor Camp near Danzig.She stayed there until mid September 1941 and was then posted to the Bremburg Labor Camp until 21st January 1945 when she was evacuated to Belsen arriving there on 26th February, where she was a wardress. She caught typhus and lost all her hair which made her look a pitiful sight in the court room.She was found not guilty as charged and released..
was born 1st March 1922 in Benthen.She worked in a textile factory from 29th June 1936 until 9th October 1944 when she was conscripted into the SS Labor Service. She was sent to the Gross-Rosen Labor Camp and then tothe Langenbielau Camp for training on 11th October 1944, returning to the factory where she worked in Neusalz as a supervisor of prisoner labor. She was evacuated from there to Guben on 6th February 1945 and then via Eulzen to Belsen arriving there on 24th February 1945.She was found guil;ty of crimes and sentenced to 3 years in prison.
** HASCHKE: Irene**
Was born 16th February 1921 in Friedeberg, Silesia. She worked in a textile factory until 16th August 1944 when she was conscripted into the SS Labor Service and sent to Gross-Rosen & Langenbielau for five weeks. From there she was posted to a labor camp at Weiss-Wasser for three weeks as a supervisor and then was sent back to the factory where she had previously worked as a supervisor of prisoner labor. She was evacuated to Belsen and arrived there on 28th February 1945. She was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Was born 31st May 1918 in Neugebhartsdorf. She worked in a factory in Roersdorf, Silesia from 1935 to 16th August 1944 when she was conscripted into the SS Labor Service and sent to Gross-Rosen and then to Langenbielau for three weeks training as a supervisor. She returned to the factory where she was employed as a supervisor of prisoner labor. She argued that her job was to simply stand at the door and make sure that the girls did their jobs properly and didn't leave the room. She was evacuated to Belsen and arrived there on 28th February 1945 where she was detailed to supervise the Bath House.She was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to 5 years in prison. SAUER:Gertrud
Was born 8th September in Gorlitz, Silesia. She was a saleswoman in Osnabruck until 1939. Her family house in Gorlitz was bombed so she returned there and worked in a munitions factory.On 22nd September 1944 she was conscripted into the SS Labor Service and sent to Gross-Rosen and then to Langenlieblau. From 8th November 1944 she supervised prisoner labor at the Roersdorf factory. She was evacuated to Belsen arriving there on 28th February 1945 where she supervise prisoner labor collecting firewood and peeling potaoes in one of the kitchens.She was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Was born 31st January 1922 in Grunwald. She worked for the reichsarbeitsdienst from October 1940 until March 1941, and then in a Railway Restaurant until January 1943.She was sent to work in a munitions factory in Grunberg from February 1943 until November 1944 when she was conscripted into the SS Labor Service and sent to Gross-Rosen, Langenliebau until 29th December 1944. She was evacuated to Belsen arriving there on 3rd March 1945. She was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to 1 year in prison.
Was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Was born 22nd June 1900 in Grunberg, Silesia. She was married with one son, (who was 17 in 1945).She worked in a textile factory in Grunberg until she was conscripted into the SS Labor Service on 8th May 1944 and sent to Ravensbruck for supervisor training, then back to the factory where she worked as a supervisor of prisoner labor.She was evacuated to Belsen and arrived there on 17th February 1945. She was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Was found not guilty of any crime and released.
Was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
was found not guilty of any crime and released.
Was found guilty of crimes and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.