Maria Mandel (January 10, 1912 - January 24, 1948) was infamous for her important role in the Holocaust: as one of the top-ranking female officials at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, she is believed to have been directly responsible for the orders to kill over 500,000 female Jews, Gypsies, and political prisoners.
Mandel was born in Munzkirchen, Austria. On October 15, 1938 she joined the camp staff at the Lichtenburg, an early concentration camp in Saxony as an Aufseherin. There she worked with fifty other SS-women.
On May 15, 1939, she and the other guards and prisoners were sent to the newly opened Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin. At Ravensbruck, she quickly impressed her superiors with her abuse and became an SS-Oberaufseherin in June 1942. At the camp she oversaw daily roll, assignment of her Aufseherinnen and punishments like beatings and floggings.
On October 7, 1942, Mandel was assigned to the Auschwitz II Birkenau camp in Poland where she became SS Lagerfuhrerin, or female commandant under SS Kommandant (commandant) Hoess. Mandel controled all of the female Auschwitz camps, as well as the female subcamps (Hindenburg, Lichtenwerden, Budy, Rajsko, etc). Her power over the female prisoners was absolute, and over her subordinates. Maria took a liking to Irma Grese, whom she promoted to head of the Hungarian women's camp at Birkenau. Maria and her high ranking SS women would often stand at the gate into Birkenau and any inmate who turned and looked at her was taken out of the lines and never heard from again. In the Auschwitz camps, Maria was highly feared by the female prisoners and became known as "the Beast". For the next two years she involved herself in selections and abuse. She would often choose out "pet" Jews for herself which she would keep from the gas chamber. Once she got sick of them, she sent them to their death. Maria is said to have taken special pleasure in selecting children to be killed. She created the Auschwitz orchestra to accompany rolls, executions, selection and transports. With her pen in her hand, she signed away an estimated half a million women and children to their deaths in the gas chambers at Auschwitz I and II.
In November, 1944, she was assigned to the Muhldorf subcamp of the Dachau concentration camp and Elizabeth Volkenrath became head of the crumbling Auschwitz empire of camps, which were liberated in early January 1945.
In May, 1945, Maria fled from Muhldorf into the mountains of southern Bavaria. Soon after she entered her former birthplace at Munzkirchen, Austria. United States armed forces personnel arrested Mandel on August 10, 1945 and interrogated her. They found her to be highly intelligent and very dedicated to her work in the camps. With much enthusiasm, they handed her over to Poland in November, 1946.
In November, 1947, she stood trial in a Krakow courtroom and was sentenced to death. She was hanged on January 24, 1948, her last words being, "Long live Poland!"
TEXT SOURCE: http://maria-mandel.ask.dyndns.dk/
PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.geschichtswerkstatt.de/frau/mandel.html