LGBT People Of History Part Thirty Four Elli Smula & Margarete Rosenberg
Elli Smula & Margarete Rosenberg
On November 30th 1940 both Elli Smula and Margarete Rosenberg arrived at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in Germany just north of the capital Berlin.
Elli was 26 and Margarete was 30. The records of the camp state that their reason for imprisonment was “Lesbian.” There are only five known cases of Lesbian women being sent to the concentration camps as Lesbianism was allowed under the Nazi regime.
In the concentration camps inmates would wear a triangle of a certain colour on their uniform that would make it easier for the camp functionaries and guards to recognise why the inmate had been imprisoned. However there was no specific triangle as such for Lesbians because as you know Lesbianism was allowed and therefore both Elli and Margarete were assigned the red triangle labelling them as political prisoners, however although in most cases they would have been given the black ASocial triangle. The Nazis thought that Lesbians could be ‘re-educated’ to become mothers and thus useful to the Reich. Otherwise they were used in ‘official’ prostitution.
Sadly very little is known about Margarete’s and Elli’s prior lives and the events that lead up to their arrest, or their lives in the camp. It is also unknown if they actually survived as between the years of 1939 and 1945 over 130,000 women passed through the gates of Ravensbruck.
Ravensbruck was one of the worst concentration camps. It was built in 1938 by order of Himmler to house female political prisoners. The first 1000 inmates arrived in 1939 when the camp opened. These inmates were transferred from Lichtenburg Concentration Camp which was later closed.
Prisoners in Ravensbruck had to live in subhuman conditions - many were shot, strangled, gassed, buried alive or worked to death. There were ‘selections’ meaning that the German SS guards isolated those prisoners that they considered too weak or injured to work and killed them. At first prisoners who had been isolated were shot. But from 1942 they were transferred the Auschwitz extermination camp.
Ravensbruck was a forced labour camp, where women were worked to death. There was a crematorium for the disposal of bodies and later near the end of the war between 1944 and 1945 a gas chamber was built and many inmates were murdered in it.
It is known that the SS staff also murdered some prisoners in the camp infirmary by lethal injection, and also that many medical experiments were conducted on many of the female inmates such as sterilization. One such case of sterilization in Ravensbruck was that of some Gypsy inmates who had been tricked in to signing a consent form by being told that they would be released afterwards. None were.
In Ravensbruck it is estimated that 40,000 women were Polish prisoners and 26,000 women were Jewish prisoners. The thousands of others who were imprisoned there came from the many other occupied countries.
It is estimated that between 15,000 and 32,000 of the prisoners survived out of the 130,000 prisoners that had passed through the gates.
Ravensbruck was liberated by the Russian Army on April 30th 1945.
Callum & Ian With Thanks To http://triangles-roses-photos.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/days-of-masquerade-lives-of-lesbians.html & Wikipedia
Here Are Links To Our Many Other LGBT People Of History Series
- LGBT People Of History Collection
Here are the links to each of the LGBT People Of History hubs that Ian and I have wrote. As mentioned above, each time a new one is published you will find it on here.
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- LGBT People Of History Part Thirty Two Otto Peltzer
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