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Faces of evil: Eerie portraits of female guards of Nazi concentration camps awaiting trial

Nick Knight

As the Allies liberated the camps, SS women were generally still in active service.

Many were captured in or near the camps of Ravensbrück, Bergen Belsen, Gross Rosen, Flossenbürg, Salzwedel, Neustadt-Glewe, Neuengamme, and Stutthof. After the war, many SS women were held at the internment camp at Recklinghausen, Germany or in the former concentration camp at Dachau.

There, between 500 and 1,000 women were held while the US Army investigated their crimes and camp service. The majority were released because male SS were the top priority. Many of the women held there were high-ranking leaders of the League of German Girls, while other women had served in concentration camps.

Many SS men and SS women were executed by the Soviets when they liberated the camps, while others were sent to the gulags.

 

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (10)

The Aufseherinnen were female guards in Nazi concentration camps during The Holocaust. Of the 55,000 guards who served in Nazi concentration camps, about 3,700 were women. In 1942, the first female guards arrived at Auschwitz and Majdanek from Ravensbrück.

The year after, the Nazis began conscripting women because of a guard shortage. The German title for this position, Aufseherin means female overseer or attendant.

 

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (1)

Juana Bormann: sentenced to death. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (2)

Herta Ehlert: sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (3)

Ilse Forster: sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (4)

Helene Kopper: sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (5)

Hildegard Lohbauer: sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (6)

Hilde Liesewitz: sentenced to 1 years imprisonment. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (7)

Gertrude Saurer: sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (8)

Gertrude Feist: sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (9)

Elizabeth Volkenrath: head wardress of the camp: sentenced to death. She was hanged on 13 December 1945. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (10)

Herta Bothe accompanied a death march of woman from central Poland to Bergen-Belsen. She was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Herta Bothe was released early from prison on 22 December 1951. Source

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (11)

Frieda Walter: sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. Source

 

Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards (12)

Anna Hempel: sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Source

Female guards were generally from the lower to middle class and had no work experience; their professional background varied: one source mentions former matrons, hairdressers, tramcar-conductresses, 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 (“SS-Retinue”, an SS support and service organisation for women).

Additionally, some were conscripted based on data in their SS files.Only a few SS women were tried for their crimes compared to male SS. Most female wardresses were tried at the Auschwitz Trial, in four of the seven Ravensbrück Trials, at the first Stutthof Trial, and in the second and Third Majdanek Trials and from the small Hamburg-Sasel camp. At that trial all forty-eight SS men and women involved were tried