Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, found in San Francisco

On Tuesday, the Justice Department deported 84 year old Elfriede Rinkel to Germany. It turns out that she had been a guard during World War II at the notorious women’s concentration camp Ravensbruck. As many as 90,000 women of varied backgrounds died at Ravensbruck, inside what was then Nazi Germany. She worked as a guard from from June 1944 to April 1945.

Ms. Rinkel reportedly lived at Bush and Powell, a mere 4 blocks from my apartment.She evidently married a Jewish man and attended synagogue as well. Make of this what you will, but I can say that she probably didn’t sleep well at night for more than one reason.

The Chron says:

The Justice Department alleged that Rinkel had used attack dogs to march emaciated inmates to slave-labor sites. More than 130,000 women from dozens of countries — Jews, Gypsies and others — were brought to Ravensbruck during its six years of existence. More than two-thirds of them died of malnourishment, in medical experiments and in a gas chamber, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Why am I not surprised that a female Nazi prison guard settled in San Francisco?

Read more at SF Gate

8 Comments so far

  1. dove (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 1:33 pm

    I’m interested in the answer to that question.

  2. Darren Mckeeman (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

    Well, I’ve heard it said that San Franciscans are generally more accepting of everybody.

    I bet you were thinking I was going to say something about people in Nazi uniforms at Folsom Street Fair, huh?

  3. Matt R. (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

    As a Jew, with relatives that died in and survived Nazi concentration camps, I harbor no grudge, let alone hate, against this woman, based on the Chronicle story. Seems to me that she had a lot of guilt, came to love a Jew and embrace Judaism, and most likely atoned for her sins in her communication with God every Yom Kippur. However, it is quite interesting that she maintained this secret throughout her life, even from her husband. That part of the story, that reasoning, I would like to hear about from her.

  4. Darren Mckeeman (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

    I have to agree with you, and as a matter of fact it seemed to me that it was even a bit ludicrous — she is an old woman who obviously was deeply affected by the entire experience. She was only 22 or 23 during the time period in question.

    I agree, I would like to hear from her myself.

    I do have to admit that the image of the Nazi women’s prison camp gave me shlock cult film flashbacks, as is evidenced by the title of my post.

  5. dove (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

    I would say San Franciscans have a rep for being more accepting of people in general, but less tolerant of hateful people, so I wasn’t quite sure where you were going with that.

    Good find – this is a very interesting story. I agree with Matt that this woman was probably not a hateful individual. As much as we’d all like to think that we are innately better than the Nazis, we are all susceptible to groupthink. I’d say she felt deeply guilty for what she took part in.

  6. cd (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 11:39 pm

    What concrete evidence is there that she didn’t tell her husband? He’s dead. His relatives hadn’t heard the story, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t know and they didn’t both decide to keep mum about the issue.

    Definitely brings up some fascinating ethical questions, though . . . .

  7. cd (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 8:28 am

    my bad – according to today’s article, she didn’t tell him.

  8. rudy (unregistered) on September 25th, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

    Tuesday was a great day for Justice. That day we reminded the World that we will not allow time to weaken our memories of the most horrific period in history. The crime is that Elfriede Rinkel has lived a good 50 years, when she aided in the murder of 90,000 others.

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