Maria Mandl was one of the many Austrians who were delighted when Hitler annexed his native Austria into Germany. She saw opportunities and she took them.
Born in Münzkirchen, Upper Austria on January 10,1912 to a shoemaker and his wife.
On 15 October 1938 , shortly after the annexation she got her first job under the Nazi regime as Aufseherin(supervisor) at the Lichtenburg concentration camp. The camp closed in May 1939. Mandl then moved to Ravensbrück concentration camp, which was purposely built exclusively for women.
Here Mandl, impressed her superiors and was soon promoted to to the rank of a SS-Oberaufseherin. Her brutality set her apart from other female workers. In her new roll she oversaw the roll calls and the punishments for the inmates. Punishment like beatings and floggings by whip.
Survivor Maria Bielicka recalled that one day ,Mandl kicked a fellow inmate to death for doing “something wrong.”
What is probably the most disturbing aspect about her is that unlike other female guards, she was highly intelligent and cultured. She enjoyed literature and had a taste for fine cuisine. She was also an avid listener of classical music.
Maria Bielicka said about this.Shortly after Bielicka had watched her brutally kill a prisoner during roll call, one of her friends reported hearing “the most beautiful music” while cleaning the guards’ quarters. A senior guard at Ravensbrück had a piano, and Bielicka’s friend found Mandl playing it, “lost in a world of her own – in ecstasy.”
On 7 October 1942 Mandl was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, here she was involved in the selections, The lists that she signed condemned an estimated half a million women and children to their deaths in the gas chambers at Auschwitz I and II. She took great pleasure in the selections.
One survivor recalled how Mandl had once selected a child whom she dressed up “in fine clothing, parading it around like a puppet.” The child was constantly by her side, holding her hand until she grew tired of the child and threw her in the gas cnamber.
Her passion for music she used to setting the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, which was made up of prisoner, to accompany roll calls, executions, selections and transports. The orchestra would perform for in all weather conditions and often for hours.
Heinrich Himmler was a great admirer of the orchestra and it is said that Joseph Mengele was often brought to tears by some of their music.
Lucia Adelsberger,another survivor, wrote in her book “Auschwitz: Ein Tatsachenbericht”(Auschwitz, a report of the facts)
“The women who came back from work exhausted had to march in time to the music. Music was ordered for all occasions, for the addresses of the Camp Commanders, for the transports and whenever anybody was hanged.”
In November 1944, Mandl was assigned to the Mühldorf subcamp of Dachau concentration camp, she fled from there just before the camp was liberated.
But she was caught a few months later ,the United States Army arrested Mandl on 10 August 1945. In November 1947 she was tried in a Kraków during the Auschwitz Trial and sentenced to death by hanging. She was hanged on 24 January 1948, 2 weeks after her 36th birthday.
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