The Concentration Camp Guard
Hertha Ehlert (1905–1997) was working as a salesclerk in a bakery in Berlin when she was offered a job by the labour office as concentration camp guard. On 15 November 1939, she began working at the Ravensbrück concentration camp and by early 1942 was supervising the forced labourers in the Siemens camp. According to some accounts, she was dismissed from her post in Ravensbrück for being too lenient with the inmates. In October 1942, she was deployed to the Majdanek camp near Lublin. In mid-1944, she was assigned to the Plaszow concentration camp near Cracow (Kraków). Halina Nelken, a survivor of the camp, described Ehlert with these words:
“Extrem beleibt, durchtrieben, bösartig im Charakter und eine absolute Meisterin im Umgang mit der Peitsche. […] Einmal befahl Ehlert sogar den arbeitenden Frauen, sich zu entkleiden […] und suchte, ohne Zweifel, nach Ringen, Geld, Armbanduhren und anderen Wertgegenständen.“
Ehlert was subsequently transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp where she oversaw female forced labour units. She later came to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Ehlert was arrested and tried at the Belsen Trial. She was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison, but granted early release on 7 May 1953. After the war, Ehlert lived under the assumed name Herta Naumann.