Margarete Rabe
SS Personnel
Margarete Rabe
Margarete Rabe, born in Neustadt-Glewe on October 2, 1923, was a guard at two concentration camps from November 1944 until April 1945. In 1944, Rabe applied to the Neustadt camp office at Neustadt-Glewe to be a guard, and was stationed at Ravensbrück concentration camp on November 7, 1944. She immediately began mistreating the female prisoners there, and was infamous in the camp for her brutality.
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  • 2004
    Age 81
    In an interview in 2004, Bothe was asked if she regretted being a guard in a concentration camp.
    More Details Hide Details Her response was, "What do you mean? I made a mistake, no... The mistake was that it was a concentration camp, but I had to go to it - otherwise I would have been put into it myself, that was my mistake." In the novel The Reader, a young man has an affair with an older woman (formerly a concentration camp guard) Hanna Schmitz. She is later tried in a court of law. In the film adaptation, she is portrayed by Kate Winslet. In the film Seven Beauties, directed by Lina Wertmüller, the main character saves his life by having an affair with the female commander of a concentration camp, where he has been imprisoned for deserting the Italian Army. Aufseherinnen are also portrayed in roles of varying size and importance in several other films: In Schindler's List, female guards can be seen in scenes involving the Plaszow labor camp and when the Schindler women arrive and depart from Auschwitz-Birkenau.
  • 1996
    Age 73
    In 1996, she was once again tried for the murder of a young woman in Malchow at the end of the war. The doctor overseeing the trial told the court that the proceedings were too much for the elderly woman and all charges were dropped. As of 2011, Danz is still alive at the age of 94. In 1996, a story broke in Germany about Margot Pietzner (married name Kunz), a former Aufseherin from Ravensbruck, the Belzig subcamp and a subcamp at Wittenberg.
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  • 1975
    Age 52
    Though not named, an overseer plays a prominent role in the 1975 film The Hiding Place, during scenes when Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie are imprisoned at Ravensbruck.
    More Details Hide Details Several other female guards are seen processing new prisoners after their arrival at the camp. Maria Mandel is portrayed by actress Shirley Knight in the film version of Playing for Time, centered on the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Other Aufseherinnen are portrayed in smaller roles, processing prisoners and attending the orchestra's performances. Irma Grese has been portrayed as a minor character in Out of the Ashes as well as The Last Hangman, which details her execution following the Belsen war crimes trial. Both films feature additional female guards in much smaller roles. Grese is also briefly portrayed in a non-speaking re-enactment in Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State. Polish actress Aleksandra Śląska has played an Aufseherin in two films, first The Last Stage as the Oberaufseherin and later as Lisa in Pasazerka. Both films contain several minor Aufseherinnen characters. Female guards also appear in very small roles in the films Triumph of the Spirit, Battle of the V-1, and the beginning scene of X-Men.
  • 1956
    Age 33
    She was originally sentenced to death by a Soviet court but it commuted to a life sentence and she was released in 1956.
    More Details Hide Details In the early 1990s, at the age of seventy-four, Margot was awarded the title "Stalinist victim" and given 64,350 Deutsche Marks (32,902 Euros). Many historians argued that she had lied and did not deserve the money. She had, in fact, served time in a German prison which was overseen by the Soviets, but she was imprisoned because she had served brutally in the ranks of three concentration camps. Pietzner currently lives in a small town in northern Germany. The only female guard to tell her story to the public has been Herta Bothe, who served as a guard at Ravensbrück in 1942, then at Stutthof, Bromberg-Ost subcamp, and finally in Bergen-Belsen. She received ten years' imprisonment, and was released in the mid-1950s.
    In 1956, she was released for good behavior.
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  • 1954
    Age 31
    Rabe was released from prison on February 26, 1954, having served five years and ten months in confinement.
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  • 1948
    Age 25
    At the third Ravensbrück Trial in April 1948, the British court handed her a sentence of life imprisonment.
    More Details Hide Details It was estimated that she had selected 3,000 women prisoners for the gas chamber and other execution methods.
  • 1945
    Age 22
    In April 1945, Rabe fled the Uckermark camp.
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    The head wardress at the camp pointed out that she was too polite and too kind towards the inmates, resulting in her subsequent dismissal from camp duty in January 1945.
    More Details Hide Details Her fate has been unknown since February 13, 1945, the date of the allied firebombing of Dresden. At Auschwitz-Birkenau, one Aufseherin was found guilty of aiding inmates illegally, and the chief overseer ordered her punished; her fellow guards were forced to give her twenty-five lashes. Near the end of the war, women were forced from factories in the German Labor Exchange and sent to training centers. Women were also trained on a smaller scale at the camps of Neuengamme; Auschwitz I, II, III and IV; Plaszow; Flossenbürg; Gross Rosen; Vught and Stutthof, as well as a few at Dachau, Mauthausen, Buchenwald, and their subcamps. Most of these women came from the regions around the camps. In 1944, the first female overseers were stationed at Neuengamme, Dachau, Mauthausen, a very few at Natzweiler Struthof, and even fewer at Dora Mittelbau (one is known). Between seven and twenty Aufseherinnen served in Vught, twenty-four SS women trained at Buchenwald (three at a time), thirty-four in Bergen Belsen, nineteen at Dachau, twenty in Mauthausen, three in Dora Mittelbau, seven at Natzweiler-Struthof, twenty at Majdanek, 200 at Auschwitz and its subcamps, 140 at Sachsenhausen, 158 at Neuengamme, forty-seven at Stutthof compared to 958 who served in Ravensbrück (2,000 were trained there), 561 in Flossenbürg, and 541 at Gross Rosen. Many female supervisors were trained and/or worked at subcamps in Germany, Poland, and a few in eastern France, a few in Austria, and a few in some camps in Czechoslovakia.
  • 1944
    Age 21
    In late November or early December 1944, Rabe was one of several guards to be posted to the Uckermark camp under Ruth Closius.
    More Details Hide Details There the young SS Aufseherin helped select women and children for the gas chambers, and also took part in murders and torture (one survivor commented that the SS women in Uckermark were the most brutal of any in the Ravensbrück complex).
    In 1944, Rabe applied to the Neustadt camp office at Neustadt-Glewe to be a guard, and was stationed at Ravensbrück concentration camp on November 7, 1944.
    More Details Hide Details She immediately began mistreating the female prisoners there, and was infamous in the camp for her brutality.
  • 1942
    Age 19
    The same sources claim Dorothea Binz, head training overseer at Ravensbruck after 1942, trained her female students in the finer points of "malicious pleasure" (Schadenfreude or sadism).
    More Details Hide Details Female guards were collectively known by the rank of SS-Helferin (German: "Female SS Helper") and could hold positional titles equivalent to regular Ranks and insignia of the Schutzstaffel / SS ranks. Such positions were known as Rapportführerin "Report Leader", Erstaufseherin, "First Guard", Lagerführerin, "Camp Leader" and Oberaufseherin the "Senior Overseer". The highest position ever attained by a woman was Chef Oberaufseherin, "Chief Senior Overseer", such as Luise Brunner and Anna Klein. In the Nazi command structure, no female guard could ever give orders to a male one since, by design, the rank of SS-Helferin was below all male SS ranks and women were not recognized as regular SS members but only auxiliaries. No German concentration camp ever was run by a female commandant. Ravensbrück, the only camp reserved for female inmates, was run mainly by male SS troopers, aided by a minority of female assistants.
  • 1923
    Age 0
    Margarete Rabe, born in Neustadt-Glewe on October 2, 1923, was a guard at two concentration camps from November 1944 until April 1945.
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