Hitler’s mass murder of Dutch Jews


Memorial at the Westerbork Museum for the deported prisoners by Nina Baanders-Kessler

By Josh Varlin:

75 years since the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands

The Westerbork transit camp and the destruction of Dutch Jewry

11 May 2015

May 10, 2015 marked the 75th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. After the week-long Battle of the Netherlands concluded, the occupying forces began implementing their plans to integrate the Netherlands directly into the German Reich, including the deportation and extermination of Dutch Jews. Over the next five years, tens of thousands of Jews were deported from the Westerbork transit camp to Auschwitz and other camps.

The Dutch government hoped to remain neutral during the World War II, as it had during World War I, but both the Allied and Axis powers considered plans to violate the neutrality of the Low Countries (the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg). Hitler ultimately made the decision to invade the Netherlands to secure potential airfield spots in the flat countryside, guarantee troop movement to northern France, and prevent the Allies from gaining these strategic advantages.

The Battle of the Netherlands began May 10, 1940, with attacks by German paratroops airdropped outside Rotterdam, a cross-border assault, and widespread bombing. The Dutch army was unprepared for the war, in part because of the Dutch ruling class’ concentration on “defending” its prize colony, the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.

On May 15, 1940, after less than a week of resistance, the Dutch armed forces capitulated and a formal surrender was signed. Fighting continued in the southern province of Zeeland (Zealand) for a few more weeks with the support of French troops, with the last parts of the province occupied by May 27.

The next five years—until the surrender of occupying Nazi forces on May 5, 1945—saw the near-total destruction of Dutch Jewry, with over 70 percent systematically killed by German imperialism.

Anti-Semitic measures began almost immediately after the occupation began. The Nazi-installed civil government banned Jews from many public positions, including at universities. Physical violence was employed against Jews by fascist thugs, and street fights became common. One supporter of the Nationalist Socialist Movement in the Netherlands (NSB) died from injuries sustained in a fight on February 11, 1941. The Nazi government responded by “ghettoizing” Amsterdam’s Jewish quarter and engaging in ruthless pogroms to round up Jews.

In 1942, the occupying government took over the Westerbork refugee camp, which had been established in 1939 by the Dutch government to house German-Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Over the next three years (1942-1944), approximately 107,000 Jews were sent to Westerbork, almost all of whom were eventually sent east on the 97 trains that left the camp. The first left for Auschwitz-Birkenau—the most common destination—on July 15, 1942. Over 60,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz from Westerbork, many of whom were gassed on arrival.

Many other trains went to Sobibór—some 34,000 people were deported there, with only 19 survivors. Nine trains went to either Bergen-Belsen or Theresienstadt.

Approximately 102,000 Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust, with only 5,000 liberated in the camps—almost 1,000 of these survivors were freed from Westerbork, which is located nine kilometers south of Assen near the German border. Notable prisoners at Westerbork included cabaret director Max Ehrlich, figure skater Ellen Burka and diarist Anne Frank; only Burka survived the war.

Among the Sinti and Roma victims of the Holocaust in the Netherlands was Settela Steinbach, a 9-year-old Dutch Sinti girl who was deported on May 19, 1944 to Auschwitz, where she was gassed. The deportation was captured on film.

This video shows the deportation from Westerbork of Settela Steinbach and others.

Footage of the child’s face looking out from the cattle car became emblematic of the Holocaust.

Resistance fighters and any detainees who disobeyed were sent to the prison section of Westerbork. In addition to the resistance members sent east, 48 were executed and cremated at Westerbork, along with 4 Jews. Ten additional resistance members were executed elsewhere and cremated at Westerbork.

On April 12, 1945, Canadian troops liberated Westerbork and the remaining 876 prisoners. Westerbork then became an internment camp for members of the NSB or Waffen SS and other Dutchmen accused of collaborating with the Nazis.

National Westerbork Memorial (1970) by Ralph Prins, a survivor of the camp

The internment camp closed December 1, 1948 and was subsequently used as a training ground for soldiers before they were sent to fight for Dutch control of the Dutch East Indies during the Indonesian War of Independence, and, in the 1960s, as a temporary home for “Moluccan separatists,” the remnants of a Dutch proxy army that had aimed at crippling independent Indonesia.

The camp was gradually demolished, and its isolation—which was an important factor in its construction and eventual use as a transit camp—made it the ideal site for radio telescopes. The Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, finished in 1970, now contributes to mankind’s understanding of the cosmos through infrared imaging of galaxies. Thus modern technology has been used twice in the same area for wildly different purposes—near-annihilation of an entire people during the Second World War and exploring the universe today.

The Westerbork Museum opened in 1983, with some barracks at the camp partially reconstructed. For each Westerbork inmate that died in the Nazi extermination camps there is a small stone. The 102,000 Jewish victims are indicated with a Star of David, whereas the 245 Sinti and Roma victims are represented by 213 stones topped by a flame. One hundred stones have no emblem and represent the resistance fighters who were imprisoned at Westerbork before being sent east.

Memorial stones at Westerbork

The experience of Word War II and the Holocaust in the Netherlands offer lessons for today’s workers and youth. Neutrality and living in a minor imperialist power did not save the Dutch population, particularly Dutch Jews, during the Second World War. Nor will a nuclear Third World War spare civilians. The horrors of World War II point urgently at the need to avert a third through the working class waging war on war.

The author also recommends:

Seventy years since the defeat of Hitler’s Third Reich
[9 May 2015]

Seventy years since the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army
[16 February 2015]

Imperialism and the political economy of the Holocaust
[12 May 2010]

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice on stage


This video says about itself:

19 August 2009

Brandon Ewald performs a monologue as Gratiano from William Shakespeare‘s “The Merchant of Venice” Act I Scene 1 at the Globe Theatre in London.

By Gillian Piggott in England:

Timely note of tragedy

Wednesday 6th May 2015

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice has dark undertones which directly address issues of racism today, says GILLIAN PIGGOTT

The Merchant of Venice
Globe Theatre, London SE1
3/5

WITH the election battle waged in sections of the media dominated by the issue of immigration, The Merchant of Venice is the perfect Shakespeare play to mount at the present moment.

So it proves in Jonathan Munby’s engaging production in which Shylock, the tragic outsider at the play’s core, is given due gravitas by Jonathan Pryce.

He stands not only for Jews but for all immigrants — or their second-generation offspring — struggling to rub along with host nations while maintaining religious and cultural identity. British Muslims or eastern European immigrants, so maligned by the far right, spring readily to mind.

Munby makes a compelling case for Shylock’s descent into vengefulness in a production which underlines how Antonio (Dominic Mafham), Bassanio (Daniel Lapaine) and the rest of the Christians are a thoroughly racist lot.

Contemptuous and self-satisfied, they openly despise and bully the Jew, with Mafham’s creepily charming and self-regarding colonialist merchant resorting to physically assaulting Shylock before bargaining his flesh for cash.

Pryce’s Shylock has the integrity and dignity that invites audience sympathy in the trial scene. An actor of presence, his wonderful voice breaks into vibrato at moments of passion and his simple truthfulness make his refusal to show mercy convincing.

And it also makes the unravelling of Shylock’s case and the legal bias and conspiracy ranged against him by Portia (Rachel Pickup) all the more ruthless.

With the emphasis on the Christians’ culpability, Jessica’s betrayal of her father is even less intelligible. Munby attempts to address this by having Shylock’s enforced baptism — a violating and brutal ritual — witnessed by Jessica (Phoebe Pryce), who sings a threnody bewailing the destruction she has helped heap upon her father.

It’s a powerful echoing of sectarian violence but it fails to solve the mystery of why Jessica does what she does.

Another issue with the production is that Munby does not appear to know how to make the Globe space work. He obscures the back half of the stage with a trellis and all the action takes place in front of the pillars.

And, while experienced actors such as Pryce and Mafham know how to speak the verse and use their voices effectively in the space, younger members of the company are less technically accomplished.

Intelligibility, unlike the quality of mercy, is thus sometimes strained.

Runs until June 7, box office: shakespearesglobe.com

Auschwitz SS nazi on trial


This video says about itself:

The Liberation of Auschwitz (includes 1945 original Red Army footage)

23 January 2015

Warning – This historical documentary contains some explicit scenes that are of a violent nature and may be disturbing to some viewers!

This film contains footage taken by Soviet cameramen after the liberation of the Auschwitz camp in January 27, 1945.

Among other things, it depicts the camp area immediately after entry by the First Ukrainian Front of the Red Army.

Documentary pictures are interspersed with an interview with Alexander Vorontzov, the cameraman who accompanied the Red Army soldiers and did most of the filming. The whole is accompanied by commentary describing, among others, the selection and extermination process, medical experiments and everyday life in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The film was previously released in 1985, for the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. The commentary accompanying the current edition of the film reflects the latest findings by researchers studying the KL Auschwitz.

The Auschwitz Camp is a world symbol of the Holocaust, genocide and terror. Never before in the history of mankind were so many people murdered in a planned and industrial manner in such a small area.

In the years 1940-1945, German Nazis brought here over a million Jews, nearly 150 thousand Poles, 23 thousand Roma, 15 thousand Soviet prisoners of war and over ten thousand prisoners from other nations.

A vast majority of them perished in the camp.

This film is dedicated to their memory.

Runtime: 52 minutes, Production year: 1985, Director: Irmgard von zur Muehlen.

By Elisabeth Zimmermann in Germany:

Trial of former SS soldier begins in Germany

22 April 2015

The trial of 93-year-old former SS sergeant Oskar Gröning began yesterday at the fourth criminal grand chamber of the Luneburg district court. He is charged with assisting murder in 300,000 cases. From September 1942 to October 1944, Gröning was an SS guard and administrator at Auschwitz concentration camp in occupied Poland.

More than 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army on January 27, 1945, it is certain to be one of the last trials of living perpetrators of the indescribably hideous crimes committed by the Nazis at this and other concentration camps.

The name of the Nazis’ Auschwitz concentration camp has come to symbolise the worst crimes and horrors of the twentieth century, and is a byword for the barbarism of capitalism in its most extreme form. More than 1.1 million people were brutally killed there. Hundreds of thousands were exterminated in the gas chambers immediately after their arrival, while others died from hunger, physical exhaustion or hideous experiments by sadistic doctors like Josef Mengele, nicknamed the angel of death by the prisoners.

Some 90 percent of those killed in the camp were Jews. In addition, 150,000 non-Jewish Poles, including political prisoners, 23,000 Sinti and Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, other national minorities, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals were murdered.

In addition to Gröning, two other former SS soldiers currently face thousands of charges of assisted murder. An investigation by the state prosecutor in Schwerin is underway into 94-year-old Hubert Z from Mecklenburg Pomerania, and another against 94-year-old Reinhold Z from North Rhine-Westphalia led by the Dortmund state prosecutor.

The SS soldiers currently being charged allegedly were not directly involved in the murders, but through their service in Auschwitz, they contributed to the functioning of the Nazi murder machine. Gröning himself described his role at Auschwitz as a “cog in the wheel.”

Oskar Gröning volunteered for the Waffen SS at aged 21 as a committed National Socialist, and was ordered by the SS business and administration head office on September 25, 1942, to be sent to administer the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Since he had previously worked in a savings bank, he was placed in the administration of prisoners’ money. His task was to stand guard as the victims were delivered to the camp in cattle wagons, and collect their possessions and valuables. The stolen money obtained during this process was then sent by him to the SS headquarters in Berlin.

The list of charges from the state prosecutor in Hannover, responsible for pursuing Nazi crimes in Lower Saxony, limits itself to the so-called Hungarian action of May 16 to July 11, 1944. In this two-month time frame, the SS deported some 425,000 Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz. Around 300,000 were sent directly to their deaths in gas chambers on their arrival.

Within this period, 137 trainloads arrived at the Nazis’ death factory. Gröning’s task was to collect the belongings left by those sent to the gas chamber from the train platform and camp entrance. “In so doing, the traces of the mass murder would be eliminated for subsequent prisoners,” states the 85-page charge sheet. His activities had supported the Nazis’ systematic mass murder.

The trial has met with great interest abroad and more than 60 survivors from Hungary, the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and Israel wish to testify to the court as joint plaintiffs. Accordingly, the trial was moved from the Luneburg court to a larger building.

As with other trials on the subject of crimes during the Nazi period, the question is raised: Why has the trial taken so long?

The answer is largely that within the German political and judiciary systems, many former Nazis were utilised by the state and their careers continued unhindered after the war. A systematic legal investigation into the crimes of the National Socialists was consistently blocked.

Of the many thousands of Nazi criminals, relatively few were brought before the courts. Since the end of the war, the German judiciary has investigated 100,000 cases, but only 6,500 were convicted. They received relatively mild sentences considering the horrendous nature of their crimes. Generally, the perpetrators took the defence that they were just following orders, which the courts recognised as legitimate.

Of the 6,500 SS personnel who carried out their murderous work in Auschwitz and survived the war, only 29 were convicted in the Federal Republic, according to a report in Der Spiegel. In the GDR (East Germany) the figure was 20.

The Frankfurt state prosecutor had already investigated Gröning in 19y7, but broke off proceedings in 1985. Lawyer Thomas Walther, who is now representing around 30 joint plaintiffs, victims of the Nazi regime and their relatives, commented on this to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “They did not abandon the case, but buried it. In the 1970s and 1980s there were still ‘thousands of Grönings,’ so the investigators decided it was preferable to leave it alone.”

In Deutsche Welle, Walther explained, “in the Federal Republic, thousands of men and women would have to have been charged if current criteria had applied in the past.” But this was not desired, so the Nazi collaborators were not to be pursued. Oskar Gröning was never punished for his service in the death factory.

In 2011, the Munich district court sentenced the now-dead SS guard in Sobibor concentration camp John Demjanjuk to five years’ imprisonment for assisting in the murder of 28,000 Jews. Since then, there is no need to prove that a person being charged was directly involved in the murders. This is one of the reasons why trials are being conducted now against those SS soldiers who are still living.

In contrast to many previous defendants in these cases, Oskar Gröning has expressed his readiness to testify before the court on the events in Auschwitz. He had already spoken in interviews openly about his experiences and actions in Auschwitz, and written them down for his friends and family.

When an acquaintance sent him a book about “the Auschwitz lies,” he sent it back with a note saying that everything reported about Auschwitz was true: selections, gassing, burning—1.5 million Jews had been murdered in Auschwitz, and he had experienced it. Nonetheless, he did not feel guilty about the murders because he had not been directly active in the gas chambers.

The course of the current trial will reveal how much it contributes to the uncovering of one of the greatest crimes of the twentieth century. The survivors and relatives of the victims taking part in the trial as joint plaintiffs are hoping for something, even if only very, very delayed justice.

Dutch anti-Semitic football supporters


This video about Hitler´s Holocaust is called Auschwitz Birkenau – Warning Extremely Graphic Content.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Dutch police investigate ‘burn the Jews‘ anti-Semitic chants at FC Utrec[h]t vs Ajax football match

The match in the highest tier of Dutch football was marred by videos showing fans chanting anti-Semitic slogans, and the football association, police and even justice minister are investigating

Adam Whitnall

Tuesday 07 April 2015

Dutch police are investigating reports of football fans chanting anti-Semitic slogans including calls for Jews to be burned and sent “to the gas chambers” during a match at the weekend.

Videos have emerged online from FC Utrecht’s 1-1 draw with Ajax in which a group of fans can clearly be heard shouting the anti-Semitic songs and clapping.

According to Dutch media reports, the chants went on for several minutes and included a common refrain of: “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”

Another chant, which was apparently filmed by someone in the stands and posted to YouTube, declared: “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews, because Jews burn the best.”

The Dutch football association, the KNVB, has denounced the chants as “reprehensible and disgusting” and said it was currently investigating.

The incident, during the Eredivisie match at midday on Sunday, has received widespread coverage in the Dutch news media after the discovery of the video. …

According to the daily newspaper Het Parool, the “SS” chant appeared to come from the hardcore section of FC Utrecht fans housed in the section of the Galgenwaard Stadium known as the Bunnikside. …

Ajax is regularly the target for anti-Semitic chants because of the historical presence of a Jewish community in Amsterdam, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Rupert Murdoch’s media played a dubious role in this once again. According to the Parool report, FOX Sports TV commentator Mark van Rijswijk commented, while Utrecht supporters shouted, audible clearly, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” that the Utrecht supporters ´really backed their team´.

Russian Premier League team Torpedo Moscow were yesterday forced to play two home games in an empty stadium after fans displayed a banner with a nazi symbol, the club’s fourth racism-related punishment this season: here.

Ravensbrück, Hitler’s death camp for women


This video is called Holocaust: Ravensbruck and Buchenwald, part 1.

These two videos are the sequels.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

If This Is a Woman: Inside Ravensbrück, Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm – review

Ravensbrück is a camp relatively unknown because it doesn’t fit the Holocaust narrative. The hundreds of survivors’ stories in this account bear witness to the terrifying heterogeneity of Nazi crimes

Early in 1938 Heinrich Himmler began to plan a concentration camp for “deviant” women: prostitutes, abortionists, “asocials” and socialists, habitual criminals, communists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, among others. He chose a site near the village of Ravensbrück in the picturesque Lake District of Mecklenburg, an hour away from Berlin, where one of his best friends in the SS had a country house. Male prisoners were sent from Sachsenhausen and built the new camp; on 15 May 1939 the first 867 women arrived, and 130,000 more would follow before Ravensbrück was liberated by the Red Army in April 1945. Himmler had been warned from the start that the camp – grotesquely crowded, holding 50,000 at its peak – would be too small.

Sarah Helm’s first book was about Vera Atkins, who worked in the French section of the Special Operations Executive and after the war traced some of the female agents she had lost in action to Ravensbrück. Helm is a tireless researcher. She has recovered the testimony of scores of women, many from eastern Europe, many of whom had until now been silent; she describes the Nazi medical experiments at the camp from the perspective of its terrified victims; and she recovers the history of the ancillary children’s camp nearby. She makes unimaginable suffering seem almost graspable through hundreds of intimate stories. She rightly says her book is the first exhaustive “biography of Ravensbrück beginning at the beginning and ending at the end”.

That said, Ravensbrück is not “still today, hidden away, its crimes unknown, the voices of its prisoners silenced”, as Helm claims. Far from it. A bibliography published in 2000 has almost a thousand entries; the camp became a memorial in the German Democratic Republic in 1959 and since 1993 has become part of a new, larger commemorative site. Two of the Ravensbrück doctors, Herta Oberheuser and her boss Karl Gebhardt, were among those convicted in the well publicised Nuremberg Doctors’ trial of 1946, and the records of the trials, conducted by British occupation authorities, of another 21 women and 17 men for war crimes committed at Ravensbrück, have been open for decades. The camp has been well known and intensively studied for almost half a century. But Helm is nonetheless getting at something; well known for what?

Not for the sheer numbers murdered there. An exact accounting is impossible, but orders of magnitude are clear: 5,000-6,000 died in a gas chamber hastily built in late 1944 when Auschwitz stopped taking new arrivals, and several thousand more in the gas chambers of a nearby Nazi euthanasia centre. Between 30,000 and 50,000 died from cold, starvation, shooting, beatings, lethal injections, disease and medical experimentation; tens of thousands were sent east to be murdered. But, in the quantitative league tables of Nazi crime, these numbers scarcely register. In Auschwitz, 400,000 Hungarian Jews were gassed during six weeks of the summer of 1944 alone; the purpose-built killing factory at Treblinka murdered between 870,000 and 925,000 Jews in just over a year, between July 1942 and November 1943.

Ravensbrück is also not seared into the western visual imagination. Unlike the British liberation of Bergen-Belsen, Ravensbrück’s was not recorded by a professional film crew; unlike Dachau, Buchenwald or Orhdruf, no iconic photographs were taken there: no tiers of emaciated prisoners on bunks, no German civilians made to see what they had wrought, no shocked American generals standing over corpse heaps.

Ravensbrück does not fit well into the Holocaust story. In the first place, the number of Jews there was always relatively small in comparison with other categories of prisoners; Himmler declared it Judenfrei after the last thousand or so Jewish women were sent to Auschwitz in late 1942. It did not stay that way – some Hungarian Jewish women who had escaped the summer roundups of 1944 ended up in Ravensbrück as did the survivors of the infamous winter death marches from the east – but the camp does not figure prominently in the story of genocide. For a time its role, however small, was almost forgotten. Two recent books on Jews at Ravensbrück now restore it to memory by bearing witness on a human scale. In neither is the argument quantitative. One estimates that Jews constituted about 20% of a total of 132,000 prisoners; the other, after an exhaustive survey, identifies 16,331 Jewish prisoners — probably a low number — of whom 25% are known to have survived. The author, Judith Buber Agassi, provides a compact disc with their names and other information.

More importantly, Ravensbrück is an outlier to the Holocaust narrative because the question of who counts as a Jew, not measured by Nazi racial laws but by more subtle markers of identity and memory, is more exigent there than in any other camp. Helm implicitly recognises this in her account of the life and death of the camp’s most famous victim: Olga Benário Prestes, Jew and communist. Benário was the model for Die Tragende (“Woman Carrying”), a statue of an emaciated woman carrying a comrade which stood over the East German memorial site at Ravensbrück. For the communist regime she represented anti-fascist heroism and brought the camp into line with the official state narrative which held that all the perpetrators were in the west and all the resisters in the east. Perhaps her statue does not portray adequately a “tortured wife and mother”; it certainly elides her Jewishness and yet, according to Helm, she lived and died in the camp as a Jew.

The truth is more complex. Olga was so deeply estranged from her German Jewish family that her mother refused to take the infant daughter to whom Olga gave birth in prison. Luckily for the baby, Anita Benário Prestes, she was taken by her Brazilian grandmother and is now a retired professor of history in Rio. Her father was the Brazilian insurrectionist communist leader, Luís Carlos Prestes. He was jailed and his wife, Olga, was betrayed by British intelligence services to the Brazilian authorities who put her on a closely guarded boat to Germany as a goodwill gesture to Hitler. The SS took her off in Hamburg and threw her in prison. International pressure got her released for a time; then came the war, re-imprisonment, this time in Ravensbrück, and finally death.

Benário was, without question, not taken to Ravensbrück as a Jew; like another famous prisoner with whom she was gassed, the Austrian socialist Käthe Pick Leichter, she was a political prisoner who was Jewish; she wore a yellow star but also a red badge.(Some sources say that her other badge was black to label her an “asocial”, intended to make the communist prisoners shun her. They did not.) …

Even her end is difficult to fit into a Holocaust narrative. She and Leichter were among 1,600 women gassed over the course of a few days: Jews, yes, but also infirm and weak prostitutes (the asocials, who wore black triangles) and criminals (who wore green triangles). “All sorts” were taken by the end, reports a witness. They were killed in one of the clandestine euthanasia centres where the Aryan mentally ill and disabled were taken, from the institutions where they had lived, to be murdered; relatives were sent notices that they had died of natural causes. This is what happened in the case of Herta Cohen, a Jew among the 1600, who was in Ravensbrück because she had had sex with a Dusseldorf police officer in violation of racial hygiene laws. The camp commandant wrote a letter to local authorities saying that Cohen had died of a stroke and asked them to find her sister to inform her of Herta’s death, and to inquire whether there was a space in a local cemetery to receive her ashes. If there was no word within ten days her remains would be tossed away; Leichter’s ashes were sent back to Vienna along with a last letter. We have only a letter of Benário’s to her family, sent on the eve of her murder. …

The deepest problem in knowing Ravensbrück has to do with gender. Helm aims to “throw light on the Nazis’ crimes against women”, and at the same time to show how “what happened at the camp for women can illuminate the wider Nazi story”. Of course there were Nazi crimes against women qua women and Helm exposes them in great detail: in prison for prostitution, they were then forced to be prostitutes; a midwife imprisoned for performing abortions, illegal in Germany, performed them on inmates. …

In the first place, Ravensbrück was unique: the only camp especially for women in the entire murderous Nazi archipelago. Helm never explains why the regime kept it up. They did so, it seems, in part because Ravensbrück trained female guards for other camps. They also needed a place for all sorts of special prisoners: Gemma La Guardia Gluck, sister of the famous New York mayor; SOE agents; spies; members of the French resistance; Polish aristocrats and Scandinavian nationals whom Himmler hoped to bargain away.

Remembering the lesbians, prostitutes, and resisters of Ravensbrück concentration camp: here.