Elisabeth Guttenberger

Last updated

Elisabeth Guttenberger
Elisabeth Schneck

(1926-02-06)6 February 1926
Stuttgart, Germany
Died25 March 2024(2024-03-25) (aged 98)
OccupationHuman rights activist

Elisabeth Guttenberger (née Schneck; 6 February 1926 – 25 March 2024) was a German Holocaust survivor and human rights activist. [1] Of Sinti origin, she survived the Romani Holocaust and testified at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials after having been interned at the Gypsy family camp.



Born in Stuttgart on 6 February 1926, Guttenberger lived in her hometown until 1936. [2] Her father, Josef Schneck, was a dealer of antique string instruments. Her mother, Sofie, valued a good education for her children, enrolling them in music lessons. [3] She later stated that her education helped provide her opportunities for administrative offices within Auschwitz. [4] Once Adolf Hitler took power, her family found it difficult to find economic opportunities due to the strict racial criteria. [5] The family moved to Munich in 1936. [2] She was unable to attend secondary school and was forced to abandon her apprenticeship in confectionery due to intervention from the Gestapo and was instead conscripted into working at a munitions factory. [6]

On 16 December 1942, the Nazi regime decreed that all Romani still living within German territory must be deported to Auschwitz with the goal of complete extermination. [7] [8] Guttenberger's family was apprehended in Munich on 8 March 1943 and deported to Auschwitz eight days later, where she received the prisoner number Z 3991. [9] The camp consisted of 32 stables with three-story bunks, with up to a thousand prisoners crammed into each stable. [3] She was the only member of her family to survive internment, having learned of her father's death after her freedom. [10] She was transferred to Ravensbrück on 1 August 1944 before being sent to Flossenbürg. [9] The camp was closed on 15 April 1945 and the prisoners were sent on a death march to Marienbad. She was liberated by American troops in late April 1945. [11] [12]

After the war, Guttenberger was called to testify in the Frankfurt trials, which took place from 1963 to 1965. Although she was unable to attend the trial, her testimony was read by investigating judge Heinz Düx  [ de ] before the Pforzheim District Court  [ de ]. [2] However, the court did not find her testimony conclusive. [13] After the trials, she regularly testified at the commemoration of the Reichstag building in Berlin, notably on the 50th anniversary of the "Auschwitz decree" in 1992. [14] She also spoke at the opening of the Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma in 1997. [15] On 2 August 2014, her testimony was read by Olga Grjasnowa at an event organized by the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, taking place at the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism. [16]

In March 2008, a Stolperstein bearing the names of Guttenberger's family members was placed outside their former home in Stuttgart. [17] The organizing group was awarded the Alfred Hausser  [ de ] Prize by the Association of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime – Federation of Antifascists and she was present at the awards ceremony. [18]

Elisabeth Guttenberger died on 25 March 2024, at the age of 98. [19]


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Romani Holocaust</span> Genocide against Romani in Europe

The Romani Holocaust or the Romani genocide was the planned effort by Nazi Germany and its World War II allies and collaborators to commit ethnic cleansing and eventually genocide against European Roma and Sinti peoples during the Holocaust era.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Female guards in Nazi concentration camps</span> Role of female guards in Nazi concentration camps

Aufseherin was the position title for a female guard in Nazi concentration camps. Of the 50,000 guards who served in the concentration camps, training records indicate that approximately 3,500 were women. In 1942, the first female guards arrived at Auschwitz and Majdanek from Ravensbrück. The year after, the Nazis began conscripting women because of a shortage of male guards. In the context of these camps, the German position title of Aufseherin translates to (female) "overseer" or "attendant". Later female guards were dispersed to Bolzano (1944–1945), Kaiserwald-Riga (1943–44), Mauthausen, Stutthof (1942–1945), Vaivara (1943–1944), Vught (1943–1944), and at Nazi concentration camps, subcamps, work camps, detention camps and other posts.

Margot Elisabeth Dreschel, also spelled Drechsler, or Drexler, was a prison guard at Nazi concentration camps during World War II. For her role in the Holocaust, she was sentenced to death and hanged.

<i>Stolperstein</i> Brass plate memorial for victims of Nazism

A Stolperstein is a ten-centimetre (3.9 in) concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution. Literally, it means 'stumbling stone' and metaphorically 'stumbling block'.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ceija Stojka</span>

Ceija Stojka was an Austrian Romani writer, painter, activist, and musician, and survivor of the Holocaust.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lucille Eichengreen</span> American memoirist (1925–2020)

Lucille Eichengreen was a survivor of the Łódź (Litzmannstadt) Ghetto and the Nazi German concentration camps of Auschwitz, Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen. She moved to the United States in 1946, married, had two sons and worked as an insurance agent. In 1994, she published From Ashes to Life: My Memories of the Holocaust. She frequently lectured on the Holocaust at libraries, schools and universities in the U.S. and Germany. She took part in a documentary from the University of Giessen on life in the Ghetto, for which she was awarded an honorary doctorate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Romani Rose</span>

Romani Rose is a Romany activist and head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma. He lost 13 relatives in the Holocaust.

The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma is a German Romani rights group based in Heidelberg, Germany. It is headed by Romani Rose, who lost 13 members of his close family in the Holocaust. The organization is a member of the Federal Union of European Nationalities.

Tadeusz Sobolewicz was a Polish actor, author, and public speaker. He survived six Nazi concentration camps, a Gestapo prison and a nine-day death march.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Berlin-Marzahn concentration camp</span> Nazi forced labor camp for Romani and Sinti

Berlin-Marzahn Rastplatz was a camp set up for Romani people in the Berlin suburb of Marzahn by Nazi authorities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum</span> Museum and memorial in Oświęcim, Poland

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is a museum on the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oświęcim, Poland.

Jakob "Johnny" Bamberger was a Sinti boxer and later an activist in the Romani civil rights movement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hugo Höllenreiner</span>

Hugo Adolf Höllenreiner was a Sinti survivor of the Porajmos during the Nazi dictatorship.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism</span> Memorial in Berlin, Germany

The Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism is a memorial in Berlin, Germany. The monument is dedicated to the memory of the 220,000 – 500,000 people murdered in the Porajmos – the Nazi genocide of the European Sinti and Roma peoples. It was designed by Dani Karavan and was officially opened on 24 October 2012 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the presence of President Joachim Gauck.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johanna Geissmar</span> German-Jewish pediatrician

Johanna Elsa Geissmar was a German-Jewish pediatrician murdered by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. She was called Angel in Hell by the patients she helped during her stay in Gurs internment camp from October 1940 to August 1942.

Luftwaffe guards at concentration camps Luftwaffe staffing of Nazi concentration camps

During World War II, the German Luftwaffe staffed dozens of concentration camps, and posted its soldiers as guards at many others. Camps created for the exploitation of forced labor for armaments production were often run by the branch of the Wehrmacht that used the products. The Wehrmacht also posted about 10,000 soldiers to concentration camps because of a shortage of guards in mid-1944, including many from the Luftwaffe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Otto Rosenberg (writer and activist)</span> German writer and activist (1927–2001)

Otto Rosenberg, was a Holocaust survivor, author of A Gypsy in Auschwitz (1999), activist, and founder of Sinti Union of Berlin and Organization for German Sinti and Roma. He was detained in Berlin-Marzahn in 1939. He was born in East Prussia and raised in Berlin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Regensburg subcamp</span> Subcamp of Flossenbürg concentration camp

The Regensburg satellite camp, also known as the Colosseum subcamp in the vernacular at the time, was established in 1945 as the last subcamp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp in the Regensburg inn the Kolosseum. The Regensburg subcamp was in operation from March 19, 1945, until April 23, 1945. The Colosseum building is located at Stadtamhof 5, approximately 200 meters north of the Danube across the Stone Bridge from the Altstadt.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Erna de Vries</span> German Holocaust survivor and lecturer (1923–2021)

Erna de Vries was a German Holocaust survivor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Éva Fahidi</span> Hungarian author (1925–2023)

Éva Pusztai-Fahidi was a Hungarian author and Holocaust survivor. She and her family were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1944.


  1. Rosenberg, Petra (25 March 2024). "Die Gedenkstätte Zwangslager Berlin-Marzahn trauert um die Überlebende Elisabeth Guttenberger". Gedenkstätte Zwangslager Berlin-Marzahn e.V. (in German). Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  2. 1 2 3 "Elisabeth Guttenberger". German Resistance Memorial Center (in German).
  3. 1 2 "Sofie, Josef, Giesela, Pauline, Josef Maria und Donatus Schneck, Stöckachstr. 28". Stolpersteine Stuttgart (in German).
  4. "Materialheft zur Plakatmappe mit Fotografien von Henning Langenheim und Peter Liedtke" (PDF). Fritz Bauer Institut (in German).
  5. Roberts Baer, Elizabeth; Goldenberg, Myrna (2003). Experience and Expression: Women, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. Wayne State University Press. p. 14-15. ISBN   978-0-8143-3063-0.
  6. Krausnick, Michael (1995). Wo sind sie hingekommen ? Der unterschlagene Völkermord and den Sinti und Roma [Where did they go? The concealed genocide of the Sinti and Roma] (in German). Gerlingen. ISBN   9783883500386. OCLC   231647040. OL   928542M.
  7. "1942 : dates importantes". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (in French).
  8. "Roms – Histoire. Holocauste". Council of Europe (in French).
  9. 1 2 Steinbacher, Sybille; Pendas, Devin O.; Schmidt, Johannes (2013). Der Frankfurter Auschwitz-Prozess (1963–1965): Kommentierte Quellenedition (in German). Campus Verlag. ISBN   978-3-593-39960-7.
  10. "Sinti and Roma – memories". Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
  11. Blatma, Daniel (2011). The Death Marches. Harvard University Press. ISBN   978-0-674-05919-1.
  12. "Flossenbürg – Site of Granite (before 1938)". Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial Site.
  13. Heißenbüttel, Dietrich (31 March 2021). "In ihrer Sprache gibt es kein Wort für Krieg". Kontext: Wochenzeitung (in German). Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  14. Hartung, Klaus (25 December 1992). ""Von unliebsamen Mitmenschen befreit"". Die Zeit (in German). Berlin. Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  15. "Ansprache von Elisabeth Guttenberger anlässlich des Festakts zur Einweihung des Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrums Deutscher Sinti und Roma am 16. März 1997". Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma Heidelberg (in German). Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
  16. "Gedenkveranstaltung anlässlich des 70. Jahrestages der »Liquidation« des »Zigeunerlagers« in Auschwitz-Birkenau". Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (in German). 30 June 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  17. "Stolpersteine für Stuttgart am 14. und 15. März 2008". Stolpersteine Stuttgart (in German).
  18. "Eine Brücke von der Vergangenheit in die Zukunft". Antifa Nachrichten (in German).
  19. "Auschwitz-Überlebende Elisabeth Guttenberger gestorben". Südwestrundfunk (in German). 27 March 2024. Retrieved 28 March 2024.