Monday, June 4, 2012



With the onset of World War II, the number of political prisoners increased rapidly. The group also changed in composition, it became more international, and lost its former political homogeneity, because all the women had received by the SS the red triangle from the occupied countries of the armed forces, regardless of the actual reason of their arrest. In addition, women who had been involved for different reasons in their resistance against the German occupiers were mainly categorised as forced laborers (Zwangsarbeiter) that came to Ravensbrück, they may have been suspected of sabotage or were accused of violating other rules, even women who had forbidden  illicit affairs(Liebesbeziehungen) with a German had been sent to Ravensbrück.[This is not quite correct, German soldiers were encouraged(and in general terms there was no law to fall in love with a foreign female) to marry women from the so called Germanic countries, like Holland, the Scandinavian countries, the Baltic States and others with the approval of the appropriate Reichs Department, sic.]
The Polish historian Wanda Kiedrzynska gave an analysis of the proportion of women obtained from remaining transport lists with the red triangle at Ravensbrück at a total of more than 83 percent. This seems to be a realistic approximation, although the number on the percentage composition of the categories of prisoners in each year says very little.
The largest national group of prisoners in Ravensbrück formed soon after the war began, were the Polish women. Already in October 1940 their share was almost a quarter of the total number of prisoners. This increased further in 1944 to 30 percent. The Austrian and Czechoslovakian women, in 1938 and 1939 were the first foreigners that came to the camp, although the Austrians were included as Germans in the official statistics it did not reach this magnitude. With the advance of the army in the west and north since 1940/41 for the first time women from Scandinavia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, were brought to Ravensbrück. Large groups of them were, however, only in the years 1943/44 in the camp, as the actions of resistance against German occupation forces won support under the civilian population in those countries concerned and reached a level importance to participate in the fight against the invaders..
After the invasion of the Soviet Union in the fall of 1941 came the first Soviet women to Ravensbrück. With a share of more than 21 percent of them they were the second largest group in the prison society. Compared to the Poles, however, they were not a homogeneous group. Most were young laborers (many between 14 and 16 years old) from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States that had allegedly or actually disobeyed any orders proclaimed or  given, either because they refused to work or simply left their specified place of residence. In addition there were at least 700-1000 POW Red Army Women (Rotarmistinnen) who were brought in February 1943 from POW camps to Ravensbrück. [Bernhard Strebel noted that about 700 female prisoners of war of the Red Army can be found in the lists. However, their total number amounted in fact to about 1000,sic] They had refused to take off their uniforms and to be recruited as a civilian forced labourers. Germaine Tillon In her memoir makes a sharp distinction between these two groups. With great distaste, she reports of the young forced labourers, who were in the camp especially noticed "because of their skill at stealing". The Ukrainians also made themselves unpopular with fellow prisoners with their unspeakable cruelty. [I could not find any reference to the type of cruelty they allegedly had committed, sic] In contrast, the captured women soldiers with their disciplined appearance throughout, received the admiration and sympathy of others. "We loved them and their attitude of resistance against the Germans," writes Tillon.
On 6 October 1942 by order of Himmler with the last transport of 522 Jewish women which went to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the women's concentration camp was "free of Jews"(judenfrei). The majority of Jewish prisoners of Ravensbrück, about 800 had already been deported in the spring of 1942 into the medical and nursing home of Bernberg and there within the framework of "Aktion 14 f 13" murdered. In the summer of 1944, however, as more and more labourers were needed in the armaments industry, again a large number of Jewesses from Auschwitz or its satellite camps arrived at Ravensbrück.  At the end of 1944 beginning 1945, with the advance of the Red Army eventually the concentration camps in the east had to be abandoned. Hungarian and Slovak Jewesses were deported during this time directly to Ravensbrück. Thousand of women and children, no exact figures is known, weakened by hunger and hardship arrived in the completely overcrowded women's concentration camp, where they had little chance of survival.
A similar thing happened to a much smaller group of Sinti and Roma women, only in reverse.  They were deported to Auschwitz from Ravensbrück, where many of them were victims of medical experiments. Just before the "Gypsy camp" at Auschwitz was disbanded in May / August 1944 and its occupants were killed,  few of the  women for some reason came back to Ravensbrück.

In June 1940, a year after the opening of the women's concentration camp at Ravensbrück, which was planned for a maximum number of 3000 prisoners already exceeded this figure at that time. In subsequent years, the capacity of the camp was expanded continuously, but the construction of the necessary barracks could not keep in step with the escalating number of prisoners. In January 1944, Ravensbrück with approximately 17300 prisoners was already overcrowded. By December, the number had risen to about 43700.
In the years 1939 and 1940, however, the external living conditions for most inmates were still acceptable: In the bedrooms, and laundry rooms, there was enough space to move around, laundry and bed-linen were changed regularly. The food was, by the women described in retrospective as a comparison to the later years of famine, still as adequate, even if in the first war winter of 1939/40 its limitations in supply was already noticeable. The German Communist, Margarete Buber-Neumann, who was extradited to the Gestapo because of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, after nearly two years in prison in a Soviet Gulag , describes her first impressions of Ravensbrück, always in silent comparison (stillen Vergleich)  with the camp in Karaganda of the USSR, from which she was released: "I looked across the great square, and could not believe my eyes This was surrounded by manicured lawns, covered by flower beds  on which bloomed bright red flowers. On a wide Sraße (Street), which led to a large open area, flanked by  two rows of wooden barracks, on both sides stood rows of young trees and along the roadside ran straight flower beds as far as the eye could see. The square and the streets seemed freshly raked. Left of us, where it went to the camp gate, I saw next to it a white wooden barrack, and a large cage, the size of a birdhouse the like you see at a zoo. There paraded (stolzierten) peacocks and on a climbing free dangled monkeys and a parrot which always screamed the same word, like "Mama". This should be a concentration camp"? [Buber-Neumann, "The Prisoner",  page 182, sic] Her first meal in Ravensbrück exceeded all her expectations.  What was served was sweet porridge with dried fruit (Backobst), plus a generous portion of bread, margarine and sausage. > But don't be  delighted too soon< (Aber freue Dich nicht zu früh) she went on to describe the whole range of everyday commandos and harassment, which (Auseherinnen), Block Elders and forewomen made life difficult for the prisoners. Even Wanda Kiedrzynska related to this regime, when she wrote: "The first intakes of the camp suffered from the perfection-driven discipline, as well as an overly serious, for Frauen (women) unsuitable work {...} The prisoners in the period of the overcrowding of the camp suffered especially from dirt (Schmutz), abandonment, confusion and chaos, hunger and disease that resulted from these circumstances. "[Kiedrzynska, Ravensbrück, page 18f, sic]
For the majority of the prisoners at that time  there was no immediate danger of death. Recorded details by Margarete Buber-Neumann indicate 47 women died during the first year of their stay in the camp (August 1940-August 1941) of whom more than half succumbed in the cells as a result of increased detention or ill-treatment, apart from that during the last year [of the camps existence,sic] about 80  prisoners died every day. The executed and murdered in the gas chamber, she  had not included.

Die Not im Zelt( The Distress in the Tent) drawing by an unknown prisoner 
The French chronicler Germaine Tillion, who were given secretly by some inmates recorded death statistics in conjunction with incoming Transport Lists (which were not reliable) for the year 1940 a total of 84 dead. In 1943 it numbered about 460 officially registered deaths (excluding death-transports to the gas chambers). Later on she maintained the mortality rate on a  monthly basis, for the year 1944 Germaine Tillion recorded the death toll as: 120 women died in January, in December it was 811. These figures give an idea of ​​how dramatically the living conditions of prisoners in the last two years of the war worsened. As of late summer and autumn of 1944 Hungarian and Slovak Jewesses, also an additional 12 000 women and children after the suppressed revolt in Warsaw arrived in Ravensbrück. To ease the overcrowding a 50 metre long tent was erected between two barracks, where up to 3,000 women and children without any blankets were housed on only a thin layer of straw lying on the ground. The inmates were totally exhausted with no water, no sanitation or medical care and received in the first few weeks only bread to eat. "In late 1944",Margarete Bober-Neumann wrote: "Ravensbrück sank slowly to the level of Karaganda in the Sowjet Union".

Margarete Buber-Neumann, was a member of the Communist Party of Germany during the years of the Weimar Republic. She survived imprisonment during World War II in both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. After the war, she wrote a prison memoir and served as a star witness during the so-called "trial of the century" in the Kravchenko Affair in France. Margarete Buber-Neumann was born Margarete Thüring in Potsdam, and in her youth was active in socialist youth organisations. After World War I she became more radical and joined the newly founded German Communist Party (KPD). In 1922 she married Rafael Buber, communist son of the philosopher Martin Buber, who was Jewish. They had two daughters. Following her divorce in 1929 she lived in unmarried union with Heinz Neumann, a leading German Communist. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the Neumanns went into exile in the Soviet Union. During the 1930s they both worked for the Comintern, first in France and then in Spain. In 1937, while living at Moscow's Hotel Lux, Heinz Neumann was arrested as part of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge and later executed. Buber-Neumann never learned of her husband's exact fate. Instead, she found herself arrested the following year and sent to a labour camp in Karaganda as a "wife of an enemy of the people." Following the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939, she became one of a number of German Communists handed over in 1940 by the Soviets to the Nazis. Buber-Neumann was then imprisoned in Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she became friends with Orli Wald. Because she had renounced communism as a result of her experiences in the Soviet Union, she was treated as a relatively privileged prisoner. This enabled her to survive five years in the camp. She worked in a clerical capacity in the Siemens plant attached to the camp, and later as secretary to a camp official, SS-Oberaufseherin Johanna Langefeld. She was freed in April 1945. After World War II Buber-Neumann spent some years in Sweden. In 1948, she published Als Gefangene bei Stalin und Hitler (published the following year in German, French, and English -- "Under Two Dictators: Prisoner of Stalin and Hitler"). At the urging of friend Koestler, in this book she gave an account of her years in both Soviet prison and Nazi concentration camps. The book aroused the bitter hostility of the Soviet and German communists. In 1949, she testified in Paris in support of Victor Kravchenko, who was suing a magazine connected with the French Communist Party for libel after he was accused of fabricating his account of Soviet labour camps. Buber-Neumann corroborated Kravchenko's account in great detail, contributing to his victory in the case. In the 1950s, Buber-Neumann returned to Germany as a staunch anti-communist. She also continued to write for the next three decades. In 1957, she published Von Potsdam nach Moskau: Stationen eines Irrweges ("From Potsdam to Moscow: Stations of an Erring Way"). In 1963, she published a biography of her Ravensbrück friend Milena Jesenská Kafkas Freundin Milena. In 1976, she published Die erloschene Flamme: Schicksale meiner Zeit ("The Extinct Flame: Fates of My Time"), in which she argued that Nazism and Communism were in practice the same. [Many Germans echoed her sentiments, but never appreciated by outsiders, sic] By this time, she had become a political conservative, joining the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in 1975. In 1980, Buber-Neumann was awarded the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. She died in Frankfurt am Main in 1989. Her daughters by her marriage to Rafael Buber were raised at the home of their grandfather, Martin Buber, and settled in Israel.[sic]

In the first two years of the camp, the labour of prisoners had not been systematically exploited for the war effort. The work at that time were mainly the erection of barracks and further expansion of the camp as well as  general  maintenance. At other work details the women performed hard physical labour in road construction, the grading of the sites, the embankment of the lake shore and the construction of new facilities. In some of these dreaded commandos, in which women were subjected to harassment by the SS-supervisors and their own overseers and exposed to the weather, especially those that had just arrived, the newcomers,  and prisoners who were categorised by the SS as the dregs of inmates, thus at the bottom of the hierarchy.
In the workshops, women were engaged in "typical" female activities. They sewed, did weaving, knitted and, at first mainly for the needs of the camp, that is, they made camp uniforms. 1940 the SS founded, the "Enterprise for Textile and Leather Recycling mbH" (Texled) to the exploitation of the prisoners so they could operate more efficiently. The camp of Ravensbrück hired out prison labour to others for money making reasons and forwarded the profits to the SS (WVHA) Administrative Main Office.[Strangely enough, profit was considered a Jewish habit and frowned upon in general by the Party,sic] The existing camp workshops were incorporated into a newly established operations, which included an Angora rabbit breeding program, a skinning/pelting and a straw braiding shoe department. Since 1941, the capacity of Texled was constantly expanding. First built in the industrial yard, which had three new barracks. It was followed by 1942, of the construction of a large hall complex for spinning,weaving and tailoring for large-scale processing of "textiles", in other words, the clothing of murdered people from extermination camps was planned. It did not eventuate that far, as a result of the war and the shortage of machines, it probably just  had a tailoring unit, which produced in addition to prison garments,  especially uniforms for the SS.

Typical women's work in the Garment Factory
Textile Cutter at work
Overall, the inclusion of concentration camp prisoners in the war production since 1942/43 was inconsistent and controversial . On the one hand, the pace of work intensified, working hours increased dramatically, it became a multi-layer working shift system that had been introduced and it was no longer free on a Sunday. On the other hand, however, the survival rate for able-bodied and healthy prisoners increased, partly with the approaching front line and retreating German Forces, there was less of an influx of forced labourers from occupied countries and less overcrowding. Labor availability of the inmates from concentration camps became of  importance. Thus, the hours spent standing for hour-long roll call was limited, senseless harassment and abuse by guards, who had been in the early days of the camp an important element of discipline, receded into the background.
Germaine Tillion was a French anthropologist, best known for her work in Algeria in the 1950s on behalf of the French government.
Studying social anthropology with Marcel Mauss and Louis Massignon. Licenciée en lettres, she receives a degree from the École pratique des hautes études, the École du Louvre, and the INALCO. She did four fieldwork in Algeria between 1934 and 1940, studying the Berber and Chaoui people in the Aures region of northeastern Algeria, to prepare for her doctorate in Anthropology
As she came back to Paris from the field, France had been defeated and, Germaine Tillion turned into one of the leading commanders in the French Resistance in the network of the Musée de l'Homme in Paris. Her missions included helping prisoners to escape and organising intelligence for the allied forces from 1940 to 1943. Betrayed by a priest, she was captured and sent to the German concentration camp of Ravensbrück, near Berlin with her mother, Émilie Tillion, also a resistante. From her arrival on 21 October 1943 to the fall of the camp in Spring 1945, she wrote an Operetta, called "Le Verfügbar aux Enfers", a comedy describing the poor life of the "Verfügbar"(Available) in the world of the camp, to help the other survivors to have fun, at the same time undertaking a precise ethnographic analysis of the concentration camp. In 1973, she published Ravensbruck: An eyewitness account of a women's concentration camp, detailing both her own personal experiences as an inmate as well as her remarkable contemporary and post-war research into the functioning of the camps, movements of prisoners, administrative operations and covert and overt crimes committed by the SS. She reported the presence of a gas chamber at Ravensbrück when other scholars had written that none existed in the Western camps, and affirmed that executions escalated during the waning days of the war, a chilling tribute to the efficiency and automated nature of the Nazi "killing machines." She documents the dual but conflicting purposes of the camps; on the one hand, to carry out the Final Solution as quickly as possible, and on the other, to manage a very large and profitable slave labour force in support of the war effort (with profits reportedly going to SS leadership, a business structure created by Himmler himself). Finally, she gives chilling vignettes of prisoners, prison staff, and the "professionals" who were central to the operation and execution of increasingly bizarre Nazi mandates in an attempt to explore the twisted psychology and outright evil behaviour of often average participants who were instrumental in allowing, and then nurturing the death machines.
She died on April 18th 2008 just before her 101st birthday.[sic]

As in other camps, the SS-men installed in the women's concentration camp Ravensbrück a so-called Prisoner Self-Government,(Häftlingsselbstverwaltung) the representatives of the various areas of the camp acted on their behalf. With the help of inmate functionaries,  who did the monitoring of camp activities, from daily chores, took over and assigned work allocation, performed punishments and invoked penalties. For a relatively small number of guards, the SS were in a position to control thousands of prisoners.  At the same time, this was a perfidious system that should prevent solidarity among the prisoners. As in all concentration camps the Prison  Self-Government in Ravensbrücks was built on the mirror image based on the structure of the SS Guard Personnel Manual:  It started with the Room Orderly, then the Block Elders, the Forewomen (Anweiserin) to the labour gangs (the term "Kapo" was in the women's camp not in use) on the lower level of the central functions,  the infirmary, kitchen and laundry, the positions in the individual writing rooms, the labour input and at the top of them all the so called Camp Managers (Lagerläuferinnen) and Camp Elders (Lagerältesterin). In memoirs of the survivors the Camp Elder is not given in the Ravensbrück a prominent role, as for example in Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. The historian Bernhard Strebel explains this with the slightly different organisational Structure in Ravensbrück concentration camp. There, the officer in charge imputed the Senior Women Superintendent  (Oberaufseherin) responsible for the connection between the SS and the prisoners.
 "The Right of the Stronger" drawing by the prisoner Violette Lecoq 
With the increase in the number of prisoners at Ravensbrück in 1942, similar to other concentration camps, a camp police was formed, which was armed with truncheons and took charge of the internal camp security and backup tasks. While in Buchenwald, a strong political resistance existed to form but on their own initiative, and organise the "camp protection" and literally presented the SS a functional Unit for approval, the Ravensbrück camp police was initiated by the SS, they specified initially as applicants primarily German and Austrian women with green triangles. 1944/45 German political prisoners, Czech, Poles and Yugoslav women were represented in the camp police. Another feature of the Ravensbrück inmate self-government was the lack of a central, almost independently acting prisoners' office, this would have offered functionaries the possibilities to manipulate instructions and obtain data. In Ravensbrück, the individual writing offices were assigned to each camp administrative division. The prisoners worked under the supervision of the SS personnel.
Most women who took such functions, [i.e.Functionaries, sic] it was a multiple dilemma in which they fell, at first, unaware of: for better food, relief from heavy physical work, an own bed and other benefits could take them into the orbit and service of the SS.  At the same time they were at risk, exposed as simple prisoners. They were responsible for rule violations in their area and could be severely punished, if regulations were not adhered to. This led inevitably almost in contrast to their fellow inmates. If they lost the favour of the SS, they also had to fear the vengeance of their fellow prisoners. The compulsion to function and be involved as an arm of the SS and their crimes, had to be constantly weighed against the opportunities to alleviate some hardships for others, and to pass on warnings to help fellow prisoners.
The judges in the early post-war trials dealt with the prison functionaries very harsh and did not take a "forced situation" of the accused into consideration. But apart from that, today one can hardly be objective of their  judgement on the basis of very different recollections of the survivors, which functionary or forewoman was "good" or "bad".
While in men's camps as recorded in reports a brutal struggle for power between factions of "political and "criminals" took place, these conflicts appeared to be more moderate under women in Ravensbrück. The Austrian Hanna Storm describes it in her memoirs  using a staged theft in the storage basement of the SS and managed to discredit the competitors with the green triangle[i.e.Professional Criminals,sic]. The main reason for the gradual penetration of the "political"[Red badge,sic] in the functions of self-government since 1941, is likely to have been mainly the fact that the prisoner society increasingly expanded and became more international. In filling the position for functionaries, the SS primarily appointed the minority of German-speaking prisoners, and it could therefore be that the "politicals" were no longer excluded. Given the complex administrative tasks and the importance of prison labour for the armaments industry these positions were also gained by a better education, discipline and reliability of the politically organised women in their make up, compared to the unconditional willingness to harass and mistreat prisoners, which would have been typical of the criminal elements. Undoubtedly a vital role played  the fact that the SS Oberaufseherin (SS-Senior Women Superintedent) Johanna Langenfeld felt sympathy for the political prisoners and she accepted their suggestions and took them into consideration when filling functions.[she used the inmate Buber-Neumann as her assistant, sic]
Since the "Bible Students"(Jehovah Witnesses) as a combined group refused to assist with any type of work in supporting the war effort they were barred from obtaining any positions as functionaries, which had been  dominated since about 1943 by communists,  especially from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, together they held the most important places in the administration. The Poles occupied the functions on the lower level, in other words communists took all the central position, [not the criminals,sic]. French and Russian women who had come at a time into the camp, when the most important posts were already occupied by the long-term prisoners, held in comparison to their numerical importance very few functions. While Roma women were excluded from all functions and thus had very little opportunities to improve the living conditions for their little group. Jewesses were allowed to become in the first years  block leaders within their own barracks. In the last phase of the war, this practice changed, however onerous. Now, Jewish prisoners were able to take over functions within the camp police, in the office, and direct the use of labour in their assigned area. In the sub-camps, were mostly Jewesses were interned, they eventually occupied all functions, including that of the camp elders.
JOHANNA LANGEFELD  was a German female guard and supervisor at three Nazi concentration camps.
Born in Kupferdreh (now in Essen, Germany), Johanna Langefeld was brought up in a Lutheran, nationalistic family. Her father was a blacksmith. In 1924 she moved to Mülheim and married Wilhelm Langefeld, who died in 1926 of lung disease. In 1928 Langefeld fell pregnant with another man, left him soon after and moved to Düsseldorf where her son was born in August of that same year.
Langefeld was unemployed until age 34, when she began to teach domestic economy in an establishment of the city of Neuss. From 1935 onwards, she worked as a guard in a so-called Arbeitsanstalt, (working institution) in Brauweiler. In fact, this was a prison for prostitutes, unemployed and homeless women and other so called 'antisocial' women, who were then later imprisoned in concentration camps. From 1937 on, Langefeld was a member of the Nazi party. In March 1938, she applied for a job as a camp guard in the first SS concentration camp for women in Lichtenburg. After one year, Langefeld became the female superintendent of this camp. She stayed in that position until the camp population was transferred to Ravensbrück in May 1939. The female superintendent (in German the actual term is Oberaufseherin) was the assistant of the so-called Schutzhaftlagerführer, the protective custody camp leader, who was the deputy of the Camp Commandant. According to the camp regulations, the Oberaufseherin should “consult the Schutzhaftlagerführer in all female matters.”
Johanna Langefeld was in charge of the selections in Ravensbrück during the so-called "14f13” murder campaign. In the middle of March 1942, Langefeld was assigned to build a new women's camp in Auschwitz. There she selected prisoners for the gas chamber. Rudolf Höß, the Commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, recalled his relationship towards Johanna Langefeld as follows:
"The chief female supervisor of the period, Frau Langefeld, was in no way capable of coping with the situation, yet she refused to accept any instructions given her by the leader of the protective custody camp. Acting on my own initiative, I simply put the women’s camp under his jurisdiction". During the visit of Heinrich Himmler on July 18, 1942, Langefeld tried to get him to annul this order. In fact, Rudolf Höß admitted after the war that “the Reichsführer SS absolutely refused” his order and that he wished “a women's camp to be commanded by a woman”. Himmler ordered that Langefeld should stay in charge of the women’s camp and that in the future, no SS man should enter the female camp. That same month, the Auschwitz women's camp was moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau camp three km away. Two weeks later, Langefeld had an injury of her meniscus and required a cartilage operation in the Hohenlychen SS Sanatorium near Ravensbrück. During her stay there, she went to see Oswald Pohl, the chief of the SS Economy and Administration Head Office, in Berlin-Lichterfelde, and convinced him to transfer her back to Ravensbrück. Maria Mandel became the new Oberaufseherin of the women's prisoner camp in Auschwitz. Oswald Pohl instructed the Chief of Department D of his SS Economy and Administration Head Office, Richard Glücks, to order that duties of protective custody camp leaders in the Women's Camps be executed thereafter by the female superintendents, the Oberaufseherinnen. Margarete Buber-Neumann, who became Langefeld's prisoner assistant in Ravensbrück, recorded that Langefeld was dismissed for excessive sympathy with Polish prisoners; she was separated from her son, taken under arrest to Breslau, where an SS tribunal prepared a trial against her. Langefeld never went to trial, and was released from her camp duties. She then moved to Munich and started to work for BMW. +On December 20, 1945, Langefeld was arrested by the U.S. Army, and in September 1946, she was extradited to the Polish judiciary preparing a trial in Kraków against SS personnel in Auschwitz. On December 23, 1946, Johanna Langefeld escaped from prison. Due to her relatively positive treatment of concentration camp inmates, the escape was organized by the Polish staff of the prison where she was kept. After the escape she hid in a convent, working in a private home. Sometime around 1957, she returned illegally to live with her sister in Munich. She died in Augsburg, Germany 1974, at the age of 73[,sic.]
A woman who  was an exception as a block elder and was respected by her fellow inmates was the Austrian Social Democrat Rosa Jochmann, who controlled from 1940 to 1943 the political block I. This block was used because of its exemplary order and cleanliness as a show-piece for visiting "guests". Many women reported later unanimously Jochmann had used with great courage, intelligence and tactical skills to improve the life of her mates.  According to her own statement, she did much to protect prisoners from rule violations and did not report them to  the block leader. Due to her easy access to the upper echelon of the SS and her congenial relationship with the Superintendent Langefeld  many of her requests were met. After the transfer of Johanna Langefeld she fell victim to denunciation and was sentenced for six months "Bunker" from which she emerged half starved.
[She survived that ordeal and returning home to Vienna, she immediately took part in political activities in the Social Democratic Party, in which she was until 1967 a member of the executive. She was considered a representative of the left wing within the party. On 28 January 1994 Rosa Jochmann died of a heart attack in Vienna Hanusch Hospital. She has an honorary grave in Vienna's Central Cemetery. sic]
To be viewed as the extreme opposite of Rosa Jochmann there can be no doubt was the much-feared and hated Inmate Block Elder Maria Carmen Mory. The Swiss came in October 1943 to Ravensbrück and was first Room Elder,  in October 1944 she was appointed Block Leader of barrack 10, where tuberculosis patients and mentally disturbed prisoners were herded together. Mory had operated in the late thirties in Paris by order of both, the German Military and Gestapo as an agent and asked to spy on German immigrants as well. She was apprehended  by the French Security and sentenced by a court to death, but pardoned upon appeal.  Why the Germans after they invaded France arrested her, remains unclear. During the first Hamburg-Ravensbrück trial in 1946/47 Carmen Mory was sentenced to death and took her own life the night before the execution. Inmates had alleged that she had acted cruelly and ruthlessly against the sick women in her block, only to have arranged favourites to the ones she liked and operated as a spy for the Gestapo within the camp. As a Functionary in a block with tuberculosis prisoners where hygienic conditions were disastrous, and in which the mentally ill women vegetated in a "little room", her behavior was completely out of step and considered inhuman. She was found repeatedly  present in her block in the final selection stages of patients for extermination transports to other camps. In these actions, however she apparently did not personally take part in. That Carmen Mory had helped  some inmates,  that she was temporarily detained in the Bunker and and received floggings, was during the trial ultimately meaningless. Decisive were the statements of French women and German communists, two powerful groups, the image of the "bad" Block Elder with her predicament that she acted under duress as a prisoner herself (Zwangssituation) was never a subject of discussion during the trial.

Carmen Mory was born 1906 as the daughter of a physician in Adelboden. She had to give up her original career and aspirations as a singer after a throat operation.
At the age of 26 years she left Switzerland and went to Berlin, in order to work as a journalist. She was impressed by the National Socialist ideology and became 1934 an Agent of the Gestapo, for whom she spied among other things in Paris on German emigrants. 1938 she was arrested in Paris and condemned 1940 to death by the French for espionage, but pardoned by the French President. Back in Germany she was again active for the Gestapo, however after some time was taken into custody  and sent to the woman KZ Ravensbrück. In Ravensrück she ascended to block-eldest. The testimonies over her behaviour as block-eldest are contradictory. On the one hand it was called the “usually feared woman in Ravensbrück”, on the other hand she was to have used her influence, in order to improve the situation of the prisoners. During the first Hamburg-Ravensbrück trial, Mory was condemned to death by hanging, she forestalled the execution by suicide, by cutting herself with a razor-blade, the pulse and carotid artery. Mory, the "black angel of Ravensbrück" used a razor blade. When she was told that her petition was rejected, she also learned that Dr. Treite had taken a poison pill. The Mata Hari of the Second World War, received the news with equanimity, even when two guards were posted as a precaution in her cell. She went to sleep. Carmen, however, hated the scaffold, and to this 40 year old spy before it emerged from a hiding place between the mattress had a razor blade and cut through with a slow, inconspicuous movements under the covers both wrists. The guards noticed her death just as the blood dripped on the floor , for a rescue, it was too late.[sic]
Beyond such clear attributions in taking over a function in the self-government for all concerned was always a balancing act between the excesses of the SS and the expectations of different prisoner groups. The two political prisoners Berta Teege and Louise Maurer, who were 1941/42 camp elders reported after the war, they had in the spring of 1942 received an order to report all sick women in the camp. They distrusted the assurance that the persons would be moved to a "sanatorium" and asked the Oberaufseherin(Superintendent) Johanna Langefeld, to release them from this task. It later emerged that the transport was destined to the gas chamber of Bernberg. With such a refusal both functionaries risked to be placed in the bunker or the punishment block. In this case, however,  Langefeld entrusted the task to the Supervisors (Aufseherinnen), without mentioning Teege and Maurer for punishments. Margarete Buber-Neumann reported on the former prostitute and forewoman Else Krug who did time for a rule violation in the winter of 1941/42 in the punishment block. When the camp commander Max Koegel ordered her to carry out the flogging of prisoners, and in return she would be released from the block, she refused."Else Krug went back into the punishment block. A few weeks later she was sent in an ambulance transport to be gassed.  Else knew where it went and also that it was Koegels revenge."

Letter signed by Hitler, Order in regard to Euthanasia of Incurable Sick. The expression used is "Gnadentod" which could be interpreted as >Merciful Death< the German equivalent word        
                                            "Euthanasie" is not used. The German text reads:

Hitler Letter                                      Berlin 1 Ssept 1939
Reichsleiter Bouhler und Dr. med. Brandt

sind unter Verantwortung beauftragt Befugnisse namentlich zu bestimmender Ärzte so zu erweitern, dass nach menschlichen Ermessen unheilbar Kranken bei kritischer Beurteilung ihres Krankheitszustandes der Gnadentod gewährt waerden kann.

For the concentration camp at Ravensbruck, there is little evidence on the controversial practice of " sacrifice exchange"(Opfertauschs) as handed down by function prisoners in Buchenwald and other camps like Natzweiler-Struthof. Typist-Clerks from the Work Area Service Department, it is alleged, would alter and change the names sometimes of vulnerable inmates and given them names and numbers of deceased prisoners and sent them with  transports to a satellite camp, where they would be safer. But apparently this had little success, to manipulate the 1944/45 established lists for extermination transports. Only the Austrian Revier-Runner(Revierläuferin) Antonia Bruha reported in her memoirs, how she deleted and crossed out in 1944 the names of about 50 long-term political prisoners from a transport list for the death camp at Uckermark and replaced them with names of terminal ill women. The outcome of the story remains unclear.  Apparently the SS doctor Percy Treite himself eventually completed this list.

 continued under Part 3

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