Maria Mandl

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Maria Mandel
Maria Mandel.jpg
Mandl after her arrest by US troops, 1945
Born(1912-01-10)10 January 1912
Died24 January 1948(1948-01-24) (aged 36)
Cause of death Capital Punishment (hanging)
Other namesThe Beast
Occupation Prison Guard
Employer Aufseherin, Lichtenburg, Oberaufseherin, Ravensbrück, Lagerführerin, Auschwitz II Birkenau, women's camp at Birkenau, Dachau concentration camp.
Home town Münzkirchen, Austria
Political party NSDAP

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. [1] She was executed for war crimes.

<i>Schutzstaffel</i> Major paramilitary organization of Nazi Germany

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 Genocide of the European Jews by Nazi Germany and other groups

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.

Auschwitz concentration camp German network of concentration and extermination camps in occupied Poland during World War II

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.

Contents

Life

Mandl was born in Münzkirchen, Upper Austria, then part of Austria-Hungary, the daughter of a shoemaker.

Münzkirchen Place in Upper Austria, Austria

Münzkirchen is a municipality in the district of Schärding in Upper Austria, Austria.

Upper Austria State of 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 Constitutional monarchic union between 1867 and 1918

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.

Camp work

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 ]

<i>Anschluss</i> annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938

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 The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

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 Capital and most populous city of Bavaria, Germany

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 Place in Silesian, Poland

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. [2]

Irma Grese German concentration camp guard

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..." [2]

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.

Defendant Mandl at Krakow, 1947 Maria Mandl 1947.tiff
Defendant Mandl at Kraków, 1947

Arrest and execution

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. [2]

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. [2]

See also

Sources

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References

  1. Profile, s3.photobucket.com; accessed 16 November 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Biography, Jewish Virtual Library; accessed 15 November 2014.