"Im Lager hat man auch mich zum Verbrecher gemacht": Margarete Ries: Vom "asozialen" Häftling in Ravensbrück zum Kapo in Auschwitz

Title"Im Lager hat man auch mich zum Verbrecher gemacht": Margarete Ries: Vom "asozialen" Häftling in Ravensbrück zum Kapo in Auschwitz
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsSchöck-Quinteros, Eva, and Sigrid Dauks
Number of Pages104
PublisherInstitut für Geschichtswissenschaft, Universität Bremen

The project “Aus den Akten auf die Bühne” (Putting Documents on Stage) of Bremen University’s History Department was part of a series of efforts to combine historical research and sense-making with artistic, theatrical practice. The volume is an outcome of a sequence of play readings based on historical documents. The book raises important questions about the merit of performing primary sources, and about how to evaluate a concentration camp prisoner’s participation in the Nazi regime’s violence who was assigned the post of Kapo (prisoner functionary). “Im Lager…” puts forth the accusation, interrogation and subsequent trial proceedings against the German Margarete Ries. Convicted of “asocial behavior” and as part of a campaign against petty criminals in 1939, Ries had first been sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women, then transferred to Auschwitz and, later on, to the sub-camp Budy. There she was made to oversee a woman’s work battalion and, according to former prisoners, brutalized and killed a number of women under her surveillance. In 1949, Ries was put on trial as part of the denazification campaigns after World War II. 

By providing the protocols of witness statements, minutes of two of Ries’ interrogations, and court documents, the volume traces the standard sequence of postwar procedures to uncover and punish individuals involved in Nazi atrocities. The book thus provides an effective introduction to postwar debates for students for whom not only the history of the Nazi regime, but even the history of the postwar debates about it, recede more and more into a distant past. Ries was eventually acquitted, yet the documentation of these select documents illuminates the complexity of putting Kapos on trial. [Anika Walke]

Translated Title"In the camp I too was made a criminal": Margarete Ries: From "antisocial" prisoner in Ravensbrück to Kapo in Auschwitz
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