“Healthy, female workers between the ages of 20 and 40 wanted for a military site,” reads the job advertisement from a 1944 German newspaper. Good wages and free board, accommodation and clothing are promised. What is not mentioned is that the clothing is an SS uniform. And that the “military site” is Ravensbrück concentration camp for women. Today the flimsy wooden barracks for the prisoners are long gone. All that remains is an eerily empty, rocky field, about 80km (50 miles) north of Berlin. But still standing are eight solidly built, attractive villas with wooden shutters and balconies. They are a 1940s Nazi version of medieval German cottages. That is where the female guards lived, some with their children. From the balconies they could overlook a forest and a pretty lake. “It was the most beautiful time of my life,” said one former female guard, decades later. But from their bedrooms they would have also seen chain-gangs of prisoners and the chimneys of the gas chamber. (…) Some 3,500 women worked as Nazi concentration camp guards, and all of them started out at Ravensbrück. Many later worked in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau or Bergen-Belsen “They were awful people,” 98-year-old Selma van de Perre tells me on the phone from her home in London. She was a Dutch Jewish resistance fighter who was imprisoned in Ravensbrück as a political prisoner. “They liked it probably because it gave them power. It gave them lots of power over the prisoners. Some prisoners were very badly treated. Beaten.” (…) Ravensbrück was Nazi Germany’s largest female-only camp. More than 120,000 women from all over Europe were imprisoned here. Many were resistance fighters or political opponents. Others were deemed “unfit” for Nazi society: Jews, lesbians, sex workers or homeless women. At least 30,000 women died here. Some were gassed or hanged, others starved, died of disease or were worked to death. They were treated brutally by many of the female guards – beaten, tortured or murdered. The prisoners gave them nicknames, such as “bloody Brygyda” or “revolver Anna”.
Von <a href=”//commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Stw-kunst&action=edit&redlink=1″ class=”new” title=”User:Stw-kunst (page does not exist)”>Stw-kunst</a> – <span class=”int-own-work” lang=”de”>Eigenes Werk</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link