U.S. sends WWII female Nazi guard back to Germany

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Sep 20, 2006.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Saw this news item today. You can run but you cannot hide.

    'Nice, Sweet Lady,' 83, Deported for Nazi Past

    U.S. sends WWII female guard back to Germany - Yahoo! News

    The former SS guard kept her secret buried, even from her Jewish husband. Now exposed, the Bay Area widow, 83, is back in Germany.
    By Richard A. Serrano
    Times Staff Writer

    September 20, 2006

    WASHINGTON She lived alone in a tiny, top-floor apartment in one of the tougher sections of San Francisco. At 83, she was short and a bit stout. Diabetes took the sight in one of her eyes; arthritis left her leaning heavily on a cane. For long trips, she took a taxi.

    Her husband had died. He was the love of her long life, a short, dapper man who had worked as a bartender and waiter at some of the city's larger hotels and was active in Jewish activities. They buried him in a Jewish cemetery outside the city.

    He had been gone just a short while when two officials from the Justice Department in Washington knocked on her door. They confronted her with a terrible secret that all these years she had managed to keep from him.

    In Germany during World War II, a much younger Elfriede Lina Rinkel, then single, a girl with blue eyes and striking red hair, had worked as an SS guard at one of the Nazi regime's infamous concentration camps. Called Ravensbruck, it was a slave labor prison for women, and during the year she worked there with a trained attack dog more than 10,000 women died.

    Some succumbed to starvation and disease. Others were gassed. More died after cruel medical experiments. Some perished from sheer exhaustion.

    On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that the woman with the pleasant smile and the German accent had been deported to Germany. She admitted that she had lied on her U.S. visa application.

    Her lawyer, Alison Dixon, said she never told Fred, her husband. Not during their romance after the war, on their wedding night in Germany, or their voyage to a new life in America. Always, she kept quiet.

    "He did not know," the lawyer said, "because all these years she was totally embarrassed. "

    Washington officials, however, said she coldly offered no _expression of remorse about her past and did not fight the deportation.

    The government caught up with a woman in the dusk of her life who expected perhaps soon to quietly join her husband in the Eternal Home Cemetery in Colma, south of the city. The double gravestone was already there, with the Star of David above their names.

    Instead, she will be remembered as the only woman to be caught and deported in more than 100 completed cases of Nazi persecutors who lied their way into the United States. Matching Ravensbruck guard rosters with U.S. immigration documents about 70,000 names have been studied since the Office of Special Investigations opened in 1979 they hit on Elfriede Huth, her maiden name.

    She had been born in 1922 in Leipzig, Germany. She came to the work camp in 1944 and left a year later as the war ended, the site abandoned by fleeing Nazis. She married Fred William Rinkel, a German Jewish refugee from the war. In 1959, not yet 40, she applied for a U.S. visa but failed to include on the form her time at Ravensbruck.

    Eventually, the Justice Department traced her to the five-story apartment building in lower Nob Hill near the Tenderloin. The building today is rundown, covered with graffiti and largely home to recent immigrants from Mexico.

    Agency Director Eli M. Rosenbaum said that despite her bid to remain anonymous, her past will no longer be hidden. Though he agreed that she appeared pleasant and kind, old and tired, he said, "her presence in the United States nevertheless was an affront to surviving Holocaust victims who have made new homes in this country."

    Rosenbaum was one of the two Washington officials who knocked on her door after her husband died. She admitted being assigned to the camp, explaining that she had a less desirable job as a factory worker and volunteered to be a dog handler at the camp for better wages.

    But she insisted she never used her dog as a weapon against the prisoners, never forced them into marches every morning to work or to die. She said she never joined the Nazi Party, just did its bidding.

    And she said she never applied for U.S. citizenship because she feared U.S. immigration authorities would learn of her time at Ravensbruck.

    And oddly, Rosenbaum said, there were no tears from the woman sitting in front of him inside the little apartment. "No statement of remorse was volunteered to me," he said.

    Dixon, her San Francisco lawyer, explained that it was all just too long ago. She said her client had tried to remake her life and never thought she would be tripped up so late in her years.

    "She was trying to atone for actions in the past," said Dixon. "She married a Jewish man, and she gave to Jewish charities.

    "And she always believed there was a certain coercion involved in what she did at the camp. She insisted that she had zero contact with the actual prisoners, that she just walked the camp perimeter."

    Knowing her fate, six months ago she began preparing to leave the United States even as she kept asking Dixon if she could stay. "Do I really have to leave?" she would say. "Can I come back for a visit?"

    She also quietly set about putting her affairs in order. One task was to return once more to the mortuary, and to inform the staff that she would soon be "leaving the area." She wanted to sell her burial plot next to her husband.

    "So we took it back," said Gene Kaufman, director of the Sinai Memorial Chapel. "She was just such a pleasant-looking lady and very small. Such a nice, sweet lady who seemed to have a very loving relationship with her husband."

    Sometimes, Kaufman said, he would bump into the childless couple at Jewish events. Everyone seemed to know, though, that she was not Jewish, and had no other religious faith. The distinction seemed to never rise as a problem between the couple.

    Yet, "sometimes it did seem like their life together was from someplace else," recalled Kathryn Allen-Katz, who also chatted with her at the funeral chapel. "Like they didn't fit in here, didn't belong. They lived in their own little island in a not-too-good part of town and they kept to themselves."

    At the apartment building on Bush Street, Gunvant Shah, who met the Rinkels in 1976, described a couple that sang German songs late at night, danced together and sometimes fought loudly, prompting complaints from neighbors.

    They lived "a modest life," Shah said, with no car, but often strolled together in the evenings, dressed elegantly. "Mr. Rinkel would hold her by the arm. They would walk together, proud and joyful."

    Perhaps, he added, the closeness the couple shared was her private attempt at redemption. "Maybe she felt remorse," Shah said.

    She was given until Sept. 30 to leave the United States.

    She left Sept. 1. Some distant relative took her in, and she dutifully reported to the U.S. Consulate office in Frankfurt that she was back home.

    Eighty-three is a hard time to make one's life over, and Dixon said that she could still face charges in Germany for her wartime duty at the concentration camp.

    But whatever happens, she will probably die in the land of her birth.

    Alive, she is legally barred from reentering the United States.

    In death alone could she be returned.
     
  2. the lancaster kicks ass

    the lancaster kicks ass Active Member

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    that's really quite saddening, although the way it's been written at times it's like it's trying to make her out to be sweet and innocent other times it's like they're trying to make it sound like she all but slaughtered them herself! whilst i realise they've gotta follow regulation and i agree that owing to that she should be deported i don't think she should be tried back in Germany............
     
  3. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    I don't. Time does not diminish the crime. Period. If someone had been part of a system that committed murder of your family, and were found years later, wouldn't you want justice served? To not try her for her crimes sends a dangerous message; Commit a heinous crime and lie low for a few years and you can get away with it.

    She perpetrated fraud to become a citizen, and perpetrated fraud in her marriage by omitting the fact of what she had done during the war. Do you think her husband would have married her if he knew the truth???

    THAT is what people need to focus on here if there is to be justice.
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    That I can agree with as well, and completely understand that. Justice does need to be served.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I have no sympathy for Nazi (or any) war criminals, especially from that era, regardless of age or sex. If found guilty justice needs to be served.
     
  7. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    Quote :

    "Eighty-three is a hard time to make one's life over, and Dixon said that she could still face charges in Germany for her wartime duty at the concentration camp.

    But whatever happens, she will probably die in the land of her birth.

    Alive, she is legally barred from reentering the United States.

    In death alone could she be returned"



    My question is this, was it determined that working in a concentration camp alone deemed you a war criminal?

    If it does deem you are war criminal then yes she should face justice for her crime. Like Eric said that is justice.

    But it if its not a war crime just to work in a camp then she should be investigated to see if she did anything wrong in the first place. From what she says (I know its only what she says) she did not play any big role and do much in the camp in the first place she might not be guilty of anything.

    The sad thing is if she is innocent of all charges, like they say by the time they determine that she might have died. That would be sad to see a innocent person die after she has been up rooted taken back the Germany etc away from her home in USA. But then she should of been honest way back when she entered USA then this would all of been taken care of by now.
     
  8. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    If you worked in a camp then you are part of the war crimes in my opinion. Putting people in those camps is a war crime, therefore being a guard is a crime against humanity.
     
  9. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    She should be luck she's not being sent to Israel....
     
  10. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    I'm know I seem to be in the minority here on this but I just think that unless she is found guilty of a real war crime, that we should not think of her as a war criminal just b/c she worked in a camp. Just b/c she worked in a camp does not mean (in my mind) that she is evil, bad person.

    I remember reading about Hartmann being in a Russian camp (which in my mind should of been a war crime imprison innocent Germans) and the Russian guards (some of them) were very kind to him, they even felt sorry for him. Being a guard in a camp does not inherently mean you are evil.

    I just don't think she should be labeled guilty just b/c she worked in a camp. If she did war crimes then I agree punish her, whether she is 40 or 83 old, man or woman, guilty is guilty regardless of age or sex of the offender.

    IMHO
     
  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    The only problem I have with (and I understand what you are saying) is that pretty much no matter how you served in a Nazi camp you were supporting it. Whether you cooked for the guards or stood in a tower.
     
  12. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    Yeh I see your point also, which is a valid.
     
  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    She lied on her visa application therefore she should was eligible for deportation.

    And unfortunatly for her, she was at a concentration camp therefore was tarred with all the horror's commited there.
     
  14. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    well she claims she did not come to be a party member but did do it's bidding, so in other words "I am guilty"

    even at 83 no matter whom you may be a lot of hate is still there, a brain is still there and a fist can be clenched in anger or released to form a peaceful handshake. you ain't off this planet until you are called ..........

    she will pay for her time in the camp, and she had a choice and could of served on the homefront
     
  15. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    But there is a difference between a POW camp and a concentration camp, a BIG difference. There is no way that someone who worked in a camp like that could not know what was going on. If you worked in a camp, regardless of your role, you are part of the apparatus that killed people because of their religion. At the very least, it was persecution and unlawful imprisonment. She was also a dog handler. If you read up on how dogs were used in the camps, you will find that they were not just for guard duty.

    I have had the oppoprtunity to hear several survivors of these camps speak. I have never heard any of them speak kindly of any of the camp staff. To this day, many of them are still afraid of dogs.
     
  16. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    I know you guys are right I guess I just have a soft spot in my heart for little old ladies that are near death. I know you guys are right....but I can't help but feel pity for her.:(

    Oh well
     
  17. R Pope

    R Pope Member

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    A philisophical view....is a guard at a prison in this era, where an innocent person is wrongly confined, guilty of illegal confinement? Where does a job stop being just a job and become a crime?
     
  18. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    The difference is the people in those camps were not guilty of anything at all. Atleast the prisons today hold mostly guilty people.
     
  19. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    :lol:

    Sadly, I have to agree with you. In my criminal justice class last term, my instructor (a homicide investigator for the OC DA office) did say he suspected some juries convicted defendents simply because they didnt like the guy, or figured he was guilty of something else, therefore convicted the person for an unkown crime. Many times, the seriousness of the charge becomes more important than the quality of the evidence.
     
  20. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I figured they convicted just to get it over with they could get out of those damn motels and go home and back to there jobs.
     
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