24 Nazi Death Camp Guards, Including Three Women, Are Being Probed In Germany

The three ladies, now aged between 90 and 94, served as guards at Hitler’s concentration camps, nearly 70 years ago. The women and other 21 suspects are now being investigated for their wartime roles and their involvement in mass murder.

There are no living witnesses who could support their charges, however, authorities hope that just the fact of serving in that place of horror and suffering would be enough to arouse feelings of guilt and pain.

According to Stasi records, Charlotte S, who is now 94 years old, was an SS guard at Ravensbrück and Auschwitz concentration camps.

Horst P, 87, is another former Dachau guard, identified last week at his home in Berlin, was pictured with a stash of photographs of him, dressed in his SS uniform, marked with the words Mein Kampf.

The central authority for the prosecution of Nazi war crimes are now investigating the files of 24 more death camp suspects, including three women.

Gertrud Elli Schmid was an SS guard at Majdanek, Lublin, where 235,000 people were killed by the Nazis during the Second World War. She is now living in Hamburg, aged 92. After her service in Majdanek ended, she was transferred to Auschwitz, where 1.1 million Jewish prisoners were brutally killed. Prosecutors were able to trace her SS identity card.

Schmid’s daughter is aware of the monstrosities her mother did commit, however, she doesn’t know much about it, as the old lady’s memory is not so good anymore: ‘We know that my mother had something to do with Auschwitz. We have tried to talk with her about it but her memory doesn’t really function any more.’

Gisela S., another former SS woman, worked at Auschwitz. She is now 90 years old and lives in a care home in northern Germany, the Mail Online reports.

One of the men on the list is Oskar Groening, who served as a clerk at Auschwitz. His tasks included sorting through the cloths of Jewish prisoners and their possessions. He would remove all the money, jewelery and other valuable objects, register them and then send them back to Berlin.

Groening said the prisoners had diamonds and gold worth a fortune and that it was his responsibility to make sure that it was sent safely to Berlin. He also said that everybody knew what was going to happen with the prisoners; that only some of them thought they were going to be showered before starting work but the majority knew they were going to die.

Groening recalled the time when a drunken SS officer noticed a crying baby on the platform. The officer grabbed the child by the legs and smashed his head against a truck. ‘My blood froze when I saw it,’ said the former SS.

He explained how he tried to get a transfer, which he was offered in October 1944 and was sent to the Belgian Ardennes, where he fought until the end of the war. ‘I have never been back there because of my shame. This guilt will never leave me. I can only plead for forgiveness and pray for atonement.’

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE