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Elsa Ehrich at the Majdanek Trials, 1946

Else Lieschen Frida "Elsa" Ehrich (8 March 1914 – 26 October 1948) 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.[1] She was an Oberaufseherin at Majdanek, and took active part in all the major selections to the gas chambers and executions. She maltreated prisoners, not sparing even children. Her assistant was reportedly Hermine Braunsteiner, who was later denaturalized and deported from the United States back to Germany.

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Background[]

Ehrich was born in Bredereiche. She worked in a slaughterhouse. On 15 August 1940 she volunteered for service in the concentration camp Ravensbrück as an SS guard. From 1941 on, Ehrich worked as a SS-Rapportführerin (Rapport Leader). In October 1942 she was transferred to Majdanek near Lublin, where after some time she was promoted to SS-Oberaufseherin. She was under the SS command in the camp. Ehrich is blamed for the death of thousands of prisoners (including in gas chambers), from the women's section of the camp with children. During the 34 months of camp operation, more than 79,000 prisoners were murdered at the main camp alone (59,000 of them Polish Jews) and between 95,000 and 130,000 people in the entire Majdanek system of subcamps.[2]

On 3 November 1943 some 18,000 Jews were killed at Majdanek during the largest single-day, single-camp massacre of the Holocaust,[3] named Harvest Festival (totaling 43,000 with 2 subcamps).[4]

In February 1943, Ehrich became ill due to typhoid. On 5 April 1944, she was the Oberaufseherin in the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, and from June 1944 to April 1945 she was assigned to Neuengamme. After the war, in May 1945, she was arrested in Hamburg and stayed in the camp for war criminals PWE29 in Dachau, where she shared the cell with Maria Mandel. She was transferred to the Polish authorities. In 1948, she stood before the District Court of Lublin at the second Majdanek Trials, accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ehrich was found guilty of the allegations and on 10 June 1948, was condemned to death by hanging. After the announcement of the judgment, she asked the Polish President for clemency, on the grounds that she had a small son and wanted to atone for her guilt. President Bierut rejected the request. Ehrich was executed on 26 October 1948 in Lublin prison.

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References[]

  1. "Wykaz sądzonych członków załogi KL Lublin (Defendants at the KL Lublin Majdanek Trial)". Procesy zbrodniarzy (Trials of war crime perpetrators). KL Lublin. http://www.majdanek.com.pl/obozy/majdanek/wykaz_sadzonych.html. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  2. Reszka, Paweł (23 December 2005). "Majdanek Victims Enumerated. Changes in the history textbooks?". Gazeta Wyborcza. Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. http://en.auschwitz.org.pl/m/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=44&Itemid=8. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  3. USHMM (11 May 2012). "Soviet forces liberate Majdanek". Lublin/Majdanek: Chronology. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007298. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  4. Jennifer Rosenberg. "Aktion Erntefest". 20th Century History. About.com Education. http://history1900s.about.com/cs/persecution/a/erntefest.htm. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 

External links[]

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