Experience: Ravensbruck

Fani Adelsberg
Edith Berman
Rose Bernbaum
Henia Ciesla
Lena Gross
Ben Hersen
Toby Hersen
Ella Hornung
Viola Kappy
Helen Kosuch
Freda Magnus
Eva Mames
Brenda Marczak
Paula Marks-Bolton
Eva Nove
Mirel Rottersman
Agata (Agi) Rubin
Katherine "Kathy" Sattler
Irene Snitchler
Lola Taubman
Zita Weber
Eva Wimmer
“The only major women's camp established by the Nazis, Ravensbrueck was opened in May 1939. In all, some 132,000 women from all over Europe passed through the camp, including Poles, Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, French, Gypsies, and others. Of that number, 92,000 perished.

“Ravensbrueck was staffed both by SS men, who served as guards and administrators and by 150 women, who served as supervisors.”

“At the end of 1939, 2,000 women were interned at Ravensbrueck; in late 1942 there were about 10,800. By 1944 Ravensbrueck had 34 satellite camps, many of which were located nowhere near Ravensbrueck itself; some were situated as far as Bavaria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. During that year there were 26,700 prisoners living at the Ravensbrueck main camp, while another 70,000 prisoners were brought to the camp and parceled out among the satellite camps. 

“Several thousand girls were housed in a detention camp for minors located near the main camp. The main camp at Ravensbrueck and most of its satellite camps were attached to military factories where the prisoners were made to do forced labor. Many of the prisoners manufactured Nazi uniforms. The working conditions at Ravensbrueck were brutal: the women worked 12 hours a day and were subjected to outdoor roll calls in any kind of weather. In addition, they were given meager food rations. The Jewish prisoners were made to do the hardest labor and were treated with intense cruelty.”

“During its first years of operation, prisoners at Ravensbrueck were exterminated by being shot in the back of the neck. By 1942 the prisoners selected for destruction were either sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau or to Euthanasia Program killing centers. Later, prisoners were killed by poisonous injection at Ravensbrueck itself, and their bodies were cremated at a crematorium nearby. However, when the killings at Ravensbrueck increased, it became inconvenient to transfer the corpses to a different location. Thus, the Nazis built a crematorium at Ravensbrueck in April 1943. In early 1945 they also constructed gas chambers there, and by late April of that year, some 2,300 prisoners had been gassed to death.

“The Germans began evacuating Ravensbrueck in March 1945; thousands of starving prisoners were sent on death marches to other camps in Germany. In early April 500 prisoners were handed over to the Red Cross, while 2,500 German prisoners were released. Ravensbrueck was liberated by the Soviet army on April 29-30; only 3,500 prisoners remained in the camp.” 

Yad Vashem. Shoah Resource Center, The International 2/2 School for Holocaust Studies. “Ravensbrueck.”
Accessed on 6/10/11.

Exterior view of barracks at the Ravensbrueck concentration camp. Ravensbrueck, Germany, between May 1939 and April 1945.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Photo Archives.”
Accessed on 6/10/11.

Inmates at forced labor in the Ravensbrueck concentration camp. Germany, between 1940 and 1942.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Photo Archives.”
Accessed on 6/10/11.

Ravensbruck, Germany, Prisoners being returned to the camp after a day of forced labor, 1944. Yad Vashem. Photo Archives.

Accessed on 6/10/11.

Copenhagen, Denmark, Female prisoners from Ravesbruck arriving at the port, Postwar.

Yad Vashem. Photo Archives.

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