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Mandl after her arrest by US troops, 1945
|Died||24 January 1948 36) (aged|
|Cause of death||Capital Punishment (hanging)|
|Other names||The Beast|
|Employer||Aufseherin, Lichtenburg, Oberaufseherin, Ravensbrück, Lagerführerin, Auschwitz II Birkenau, women's camp at Birkenau, Dachau concentration camp.|
|Home town||Münzkirchen, Austria|
Maria Mandl (also spelled Mandel; 10 January 1912 – 24 January 1948) was an Austrian SS-Helferin infamous for her key role in the Holocaust as a top-ranking official at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp where she is believed to have been directly complicit in the deaths of over 500,000 female prisoners.She was executed for war crimes.
The Schutzstaffel was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II. It began with a small guard unit known as the Saal-Schutz made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for party meetings in Munich. In 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under his direction (1929–45) it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. From 1929 until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe.
The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide during World War II in which Nazi Germany, aided by local collaborators, systematically murdered some six million European Jews—around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe—between 1941 and 1945. Jews were targeted for extermination as part of a larger event during the Holocaust era, in which Germany and its collaborators persecuted and murdered other groups, including Slavs, the Roma, the "incurably sick", political and religious dissenters such as communists and Jehovah's Witnesses, and gay men. Taking into account all the victims of Nazi persecution, the death toll rises to over 17 million.
The Auschwitz concentration camp was a complex of more than 40 Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust. It consisted of Auschwitz I, the main camp (Stammlager) and administrative headquarters in Oświęcim; Auschwitz II–Birkenau, a combined concentration and extermination camp three kilometers away in Brzezinka; Auschwitz III–Monowitz, a labor camp seven kilometers from Auschwitz I set up to staff an IG Farben synthetic-rubber factory; and dozens of other subcamps.
Mandl was born in Münzkirchen, Upper Austria, then part of Austria-Hungary, the daughter of a shoemaker.
Münzkirchen is a municipality in the district of Schärding in Upper Austria, Austria.
Upper Austria is one of the nine states or Bundesländer of Austria. Its capital is Linz. Upper Austria borders on Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as on the other Austrian states of Lower Austria, Styria, and Salzburg. With an area of 11,982 km2 (4,626 sq mi) and 1.437 million inhabitants, Upper Austria is the fourth-largest Austrian state by land area and the third-largest by population.
Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed by giving a new constitution to the Austrian Empire, which devolved powers on Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) and placed them on an equal footing. It broke apart into several states at the end of World War I.
After the Anschluss by Nazi Germany, Mandl moved to Munich, and on 15 October 1938 joined the camp staff as an Aufseherin at Lichtenburg, an early Nazi concentration camp in the Province of Saxony where she worked with fifty other SS women. On 15 May 1939, she, along with other guards and prisoners, were sent to the newly opened Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin. She quickly impressed her superiors and, after she had joined the Nazi Party on 1 April 1941, was elevated to the rank of a SS-Oberaufseherin in April 1942. She oversaw daily roll calls, assignments for Aufseherinnen and punishments such as beatings and floggings.[ citation needed ]
Anschluss refers to the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938. The word's German spelling, until the German orthography reform of 1996, was Anschluß and it was also known as the Anschluss Österreichs.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.
On 7 October 1942, Mandl was assigned to the Auschwitz II Birkenau camp where she succeeded Johanna Langefeld as SS-Lagerführerin of the women camp under SS-Kommandant Rudolf Höß. As a woman she could never outrank a man,[ citation needed ] but her control over both female prisoners and her female subordinates was absolute. The only man Mandl reported to was the commandant. She controlled all the female Auschwitz camps and female subcamps including at Hindenburg, Lichtewerden and Raisko.[ citation needed ]
Johanna Langefeld was a German female guard and supervisor at three Nazi concentration camps: Lichtenburg, Ravensbrück, and Auschwitz.
Zabrze is a city in Silesia in southern Poland, near Katowice. The west district of the Silesian Metropolis, a metropolis with a population of around 2 million. It is in the Silesian Highlands, on the Bytomka River, a tributary of the Oder.
Mandl took a liking to Irma Grese, whom she promoted to head of the Hungarian women's camp at Birkenau. According to some accounts, Mandl often stood at the gate into Birkenau waiting for an inmate to turn and look at her: any who did were taken out of the lines and never heard from again. At Auschwitz, Mandl was known as The Beast, and for the next two years she participated in selections for death and other documented abuses. She signed inmate lists, sending an estimated half a million women and children to their deaths in the gas chambers at Auschwitz I and II.
Irma Ida Ilse Grese was an SS guard at the Nazi concentration camps of Ravensbrück and Auschwitz, and served as warden of the women's section of Bergen-Belsen.
Mandl created the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz to accompany roll calls, executions, selections and transports. An Auschwitz prisoner, Lucia Adelsberger, later described it in her book, Auschwitz: Ein Tatsachenbericht:
The Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz, or the Girls' Orchestra of Auschwitz, was a female orchestra at Auschwitz concentration camp, which was created in spring 1943 by order of the SS. The members were usually young female prisoners, of varying nationalities, who were spared regular camp labor in lieu of performing music that was regarded as helpful in the daily running of the camp.
"The women who came back from work exhausted had to march in time to the music. Music was ordered for all occasions, for the addresses of the Camp Commanders, for the transports and whenever anybody was hanged..."
For services rendered, Mandl was awarded the War Merit Cross 2nd class. In November 1944, she was assigned to the Mühldorf subcamp of Dachau concentration camp and Elisabeth Volkenrath became head of Auschwitz, which were liberated in late January 1945. In May 1945, Mandl fled from Mühldorf into the mountains of southern Bavaria to her birthplace, Münzkirchen.
The United States Army arrested Mandl on 10 August 1945. Interrogations reportedly revealed her to be highly intelligent and dedicated to her work in the camps. She was handed over to the Polish People’s Republic in November 1946, and in November 1947 she was tried in a Kraków courtroom in the Auschwitz Trial and sentenced to death by hanging.
Stanisława Rachwałowa (a Polish survivor of Auschwitz who was an inmate under Mandl's administration and, after the war, was arrested by Poland's post-war communist authorities as an "anti-communist activist") was imprisoned in the cell next to Maria Mandl and Therese Brandl. Rachwałowa was proficient enough in German to interpret for the wardens. She stated that the last time she and the two German war criminals met – after they had been sentenced to death and shortly before their executions took place – both had asked her for forgiveness. Mandl was hanged on 24 January 1948, aged 36.
Natzweiler-Struthof was a German-run concentration camp located in the Vosges Mountains close to the Alsatian village of Natzwiller in France, and the town of Schirmeck, about 50 km (31 m) southwest of the city of Strasbourg. Natzweiler-Struthof was the only concentration camp established by the Nazis on French territory, though there were French-run temporary camps such as the one at Drancy.
The Mauthausen–Gusen concentration camp complex consisted of the Mauthausen concentration camp on a hill above the market town of Mauthausen plus a group of nearly 100 further subcamps located throughout Austria and southern Germany. The three Gusen concentration camps in and around the village of St Georgen/Gusen, just a few kilometres from Mauthausen, held a significant proportion of prisoners within the camp complex, at times exceeding the number of prisoners at the Mauthausen main camp.
Stutthof was a Nazi German concentration camp established in a secluded, wet, and wooded area near the small town of Sztutowo 34 km (21 mi) east of the city of Danzig in the former territory of the Free City of Danzig. The camp was set up around existing structures after the invasion of Poland in World War II, used for the imprisonment of Polish leaders and intelligentsia. The actual barracks were built the following year by hundreds of prisoners.
Therese Brandl was a Nazi concentration camp guard. In March 1942, Brandl was one of several SS women to be assigned to Auschwitz I concentration camp. Her duties included watching over women in the sorting sheds and as the SS Rapportaufseherin.
The Aufseherinnen were female guards in German concentration camps during the Holocaust. Of the 55,000 guards who served in German concentration camps, about 3,700 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 guard shortage. The German title for this position, Aufseherin means female overseer or attendant. Later female guards were dispersed to Bolzano (1944–45), Kaiserwald-Riga (1943–44), Mauthausen, Stutthof (1942–45), Vaivara (1943–44), Vught (1943–44), and at other Nazi concentration camps, subcamps, work camps, detention camps, etc.
Margot Elisabeth Dreschel, also spelled Drechsler, or Drexler, was a prison guard at Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
Juana Bormann was an East Prussian-born prison guard at several Nazi concentration camps, from 1938 and was executed as a war criminal at Hamelin, Lower Saxony, Germany, after a court trial in 1945.
Dorothea Binz was an officer and supervisor at Ravensbrück concentration camp during the Second World War. She was executed for war crimes.
Herta Ehlert was a female guard at many Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
Alice Orlowski was a German concentration camp guard at several of the Nazi German camps in occupied Poland during World War II.
Elisabeth Lupka was a Nazi female guard at two camps during World War II.
Emma Anna Maria Zimmer was a female overseer at the Lichtenburg concentration camp, the Ravensbrück concentration camp and the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination/concentration camp for several years during the war.
Josef Kramer was the Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau and of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Dubbed The Beast of Belsen by camp inmates, he was a notorious German Nazi war criminal, directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. He was detained by the British Army after the Second World War, convicted of war crimes and hanged on the gallows in Hamelin prison by British executioner Albert Pierrepoint.
Luise Danz was a Nazi German concentration camp guard in World War II. She was born in Walldorf (Werra) in Thuringia. Danz was captured in 1945 and put on trial for crimes against humanity at the Auschwitz trial in Kraków, Poland. She was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1947, but released due to general amnesty on August 20, 1957.
The Fürstengrube subcamp was organized in the summer of 1943 at the Fürstengrube hard coal mine in the town of Wesoła (Wessolla) near Myslowice (Myslowitz), approximately 30 kilometers (19 mi) from Auschwitz concentration camp. The mine, which IG Farbenindustrie AG acquired in February 1941, was to supply hard coal for the IG Farben factory being built in Auschwitz. Besides the old Fürstengrube mine, called the Altanlage, a new mine (Fürstengrube-Neuanlage) had been designed and construction had begun; it was to provide for greater coal output in the future. Coal production at the new mine was anticipated to start in late 1943, so construction was treated as very urgent; however, that plan proved to be unfeasible.
Mühldorf was a satellite system of the Dachau concentration camp located near Mühldorf in Bavaria, established in mid-1944 and run by the Schutzstaffel (SS). The camps were established to provide labor for an underground installation for the production of the Messerschmitt 262 (Me-262), a jet fighter designed to challenge Allied air superiority over Germany.
Franz Hößler, also Franz Hössler was a Nazi German SS-Obersturmführer and Schutzhaftlagerführer at the Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dora-Mittelbau and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps during World War II. Captured by the Allies at the end of the war, Hößler was charged with crimes against humanity in the First Bergen-Belsen Trial, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He was executed by hanging at Hameln Prison in 1945.
Else Lieschen Frida "Elsa" Ehrich was an SS guard at the Nazi concentration camps, including at Kraków-Płaszów and the Majdanek concentration camp during World War II. She was tried in Lublin, Poland at the Majdanek Trials and sentenced to death for war crimes. Ehrich was hanged on 26 October 1948.