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Fallen in Love, Betrothed and Married

Were SS-women truly guilty?

In this chapter of her book, Gudrun Schwarz describes the circumstances that brought about the fact that SS-men found the time and opportunity to become acquainted with women and to marry them.  However, she also gives the first glimpse into a network of old friends and comrades — female and male — that stuck together like glue even after the war to aid each other in obscuring their past and to seek refuge from prosecution.  More of that is covered in one of the subsequent chapters.

The institutions of the SS, and especially the concentration camps, didn't exist as isolated islands of terror within German society.  They were an integral part of the local communities near or within which they were located.  Local suppliers and tradesmen had interactions with the agencies of the SS and clear knowledge of what went on in the camps, especially when the columns of emaciated prisoners dragged themselves often through the centre of a community on their way to and from their place of work.

People rented their rooms to SS-personnel and gave them the opportunity to become part of social life.  It was unavoidable that these men fell in love with local women, that they became betrothed to- and married them.  So it was that for instance in the town of Dachau, ten such marriages took place in the parish church, and, so Gudrun Schwarz surmises, probably a considerably larger number of SS-marriages were made and consummated without the blessing of the church in the town of Dachau and surrounding area, because in those days it wasn't all that customary to hold a wedding ceremony in church.

However, what is pointed out in this chapter as well is the fact that in the SS too, as in any other organization, women and men had considerable opportunity to become acquainted, and to fall in love, with colleagues at work.  The female staff of the SS, and it must be realized that any such staff member had to be a qualified SS-member to be able to join, comprised a considerable number of women who were medical doctors, registered nurses, nursing aides, cooks, kitchen helpers, camp supervisors, transport supervisors, telephone operators, clerical employees, stenographers, typists, and so on.  It is simply incredible that all of these women didn't know what the SS was all about, or even that none of them were actively involved in the performance of at least some of the atrocities that were brought about by the SS.  Gudrun Schwarz provides a number of accounts of where such women were directly involved in the exploitation of concentration camps inmates and even if they didn't actively participate in their extermination they at least actively supported the SS and their husbands.  She describes that in at least two of the cases the wives of camp commanders contracted typhus from clothing that had been robbed from concentration camp inmates [transmission via bites by parasites — lice or fleas — being virtually the only possible route of infection in those cases. -WHS].

The following is a translation of an excerpt from this chapter of "A Wife at his Side."

The central office "T4" [25] of the SS, from which, under the code-name "Euthanasia," the murder of the inmates of the hospitals and institutions, of the people that had been declared "unworthy of life," was being organized, as well as the killing institutions themselves were locations where female and male coworkers found time to fall in love and get married.  Whereas some of the men, about which the following reports, were brought to accountability for their deeds, [26] none of the mentioned women were prosecuted in any court.  Their work as employees of "T4" counted no longer, following the decision made at the Nuremberg Trials to exclude employees and stenographers of the Gestapo from the category "member of a criminal organization" and therefore not to indict them, no longer amongst the crimes that were being prosecuted. [27]  Their knowledge and complicity in the crimes of their superiors and husbands was therefore not judicially relevant.

Such a case was the married couple Allers.  Dieter Allers was the business manager
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25  "T4", after the location of the Centre in the Tiergarten Strasse Nr. 4; in reference to that see: Schleunes (1987, p. 62 - 83).
26  The report about the particular process or sentence pertaining to a specific person will be made within the context of mentioning the given person.
27  Justice Jackson declared: "As far as I'm concerned, I would like to make it quite clear, and I believe that at any rate it will be accepted, that the United States aren't interested in letting their representatives travel for 3,500 miles to indict office employees, stenographers and house keepers.  Those aren't the kind of crimes that we want to prosecute, even if they knew something; because they aren't the kind of criminals who endanger world-peace." IMT (1947 - 1949, volume VIII, p. 494).  Shortly after the end of the war, in the first Euthanasia process, Mar. 25, 1946, the female institution doctor and the institution nurse were sentenced to death.  LG Berlin, 25.03.4611 KS 8/46.  In the second process on Dec 21, 1946, the chief nurse was sentenced to prison and the station nurse  and nurse found not guilty.  LG Frankfurt am Main, 21.12.46.  In the subsequent trials the female and male doctors were sentenced to prison, the registered nurses and the nursing aides as a rule found not guilty.

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in charge of "T4", Mrs. Allers a secretary.  She told Gitta Sereny how she came to that position: "I worked in a fashion shop before that and at any cost wanted do something useful for my fatherland.  A girlfriend told me that she could possibly be of assistance to me to obtain a post in the Chancellery of the Leader, where she herself worked as a secretary.  Secret duties, she said.  Well, that sounded very exciting, so I went there.  And I became accepted.  I had no clue what was involved until I was with it." [28]  She stayed "with it" until the end of "T4" in May of 1944.  Here she got to know her later husband.  During her involvement as secretary at Schloss Hartheim she became informed about the gas chamber, and observed the killing process herself through the little peephole in the door of the gas chamber. [29]Castle Hartheim, Germany, where the SS killing program of "life unworthy of living" had its startGitta Sereny reports that Mr. and Mrs. Allers had been ready up to a certain point to debate euthanasia.  Upon her question: "When did you hear for the first time what happened to the Jews in Poland?" the couple nevertheless reacted at first with a long silence.  "Oh, sometime during the year of 1943," Mrs. Allers said eventually. [30]  Millions of Jewish women, men and children had already been exterminated by 1943.  The SS-people who executed these murders in the killing-camps had been paid by "T4", whose own courier brought the pay (service pay and war-duty pay) into the camp. [31]  They received documents from this office and were sent from there, along with their families, to a recuperation home for the associates of "T4" at the Austrian Attersee, to vacation there.  Dieter Allers was from the spring 1944 on the leader of a special action in Triest. [32]  In this function he was in charge of the Camp La Risiera, in the borough of San Saba in Triest, that was equipped with an installation for the cremating of bodies.  In La Risiera Italian and Yugoslavian Jews were kept captive, who were in part killed in the camp itself but the largest part of who were deported to Auschwitz: "It is estimated that between October 1943 and April 1945 10,000 to 15,000 persons went through the camp.  4,000 to 5,000 of these 10,000 to 15,000 were murdered and

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28  Sereny (1995, p. 92)
29  ibid., p. 96
30  ibid., p. 103
31  Rueckerl (1977, p. 134)
32  Klee (1992, p. 57)
 

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cremated in the camp." [33]   In spite of that the couple maintain to have known nothing of the murdering of Jews in the extermination camps.  "How should we have known anything about it?" asked Mr. Allers.  Following the question of what they had felt when they did become aware, Mrs. Allers reacted indignantly: "How can you ask us that? … How can you sit with us in this room and ask that question?"  Whereupon Gitta Sereny [stated]: "Yes, I can … You were there.  You didn't leave the T4 when the Euthanasia Program ended.  You stayed.  You knew all about it." [34]  After the war the couple still maintained contact with former female and male coworkers from "T4".  That is what secretary Hildegard W. said in her testimony in 1966: "About 3 to 4 years ago I met Lorent at the Allers residence.  I'm befriended with Mrs. Allers." [35]

_________________
33  Comune di Carpi (1985, p. 60).  In Italy, in the years 1975/76, preparations were made for a criminal trial against Allers and the SS-man Oberhauser, in consequence of crimes that were perpetrated in San Saba.  After Allers deceased, the trial progressed in his absence against Oberhauser alone.  Rueckerl (1977, p. 75, footnote 73).
34  Sereny (1995, p. 103).
35  Witness testimony by Hildegard W. at the State Court Frankfurt/Main, 1966 02 09, ZStL, Euthanasie-Ordner [Ordner = File].  Hildegard W. came already in 1940 to "T4", through the intervention of a girlfriend who was already working there.  From the fall of 1943 on she worked in the killing-institute Hartheim.
 

Additional comments by Fathers for Life

Notwithstanding Justice Jackson's sentiments, [27]  it defies all logic to deny the culpability of SS-women, to deny that they were as culpable as their husbands and male comrades.
    Just think about it.  A war was fought for justice and freedom. Tens of millions of people died in that war to guarantee the freedom of the world.  Millions more were maimed and untold trillions of dollars in property destroyed.  The Nuremberg Trials were held to bring the perpetrators of the atrocities against Jews and other minorities to justice and to guarantee that such crimes would never be repeated, and in one sentence by Justice Jackson the guilt of one half of the perpetrators of those terrible crimes against humanity was white-washed, and that half of the participants in those terrible crimes were absolved — because they were women!
    Such is the power of western chivalry.  That was before the women's liberation movement got into motion and thirty years before the radical feminists (a.k.a. redfems) took over that movement.  And you truly think that it is possible to gain equitable justice for men now?
    Still, the excessive extent of western chivalry that had Justice Jackson in its grip did not afflict military tribunals in other jurisdictions to quite that extent.  See information on the executions of female Nazi war criminals by the British, Poles and Russians. —WHS


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Updates:
2001 02 10 (format changes)