German woman, 93, under investigation for role as SS guard


BERLIN (JTA) — A 93-year-old woman in Hamburg is under investigation for her role as an SS guard during a Nazi death march.

The investigation of Hilde Michnia was announced Monday by the Hamburg prosecutors’ office.

Also Monday, prosecutors in the city of Luneburg said they will try former Waffen-SS member Oskar Groening, 93, in April for his role in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Groening, of Hannover, Germany, has acknowledged that he was a guard at Auschwitz but said he did not personally commit any of the atrocities.  Some 20 Auschwitz victims and their families are co-plaintiffs in the case against him.

Groening is alleged to have counted the money left behind by murdered Jews and also to have cleared their luggage before the arrival of the next trainload of deportees. He has expressed shame for having been “a cog in the killing machine that eliminated millions of innocent people,” according to the German news service Deutsche Welle.

In the Michnia case, state prosecutors through an informant are looking into whether Michnia participated in guarding the death march from Gross-Rosen to a labor camp in Gubin, during which 1,400 of the 2,000 women died. She could face charges as an accessory to murder.

Michnia (nee Lisiewicz) was a guard at the Bergen-Belsen and Gross-Rosen concentration camps.

She recently told a reporter for the German newspaper Die Welt that she worked in the kitchen of Bergen-Belsen, but she denied seeing gaunt, starving and diseased prisoners, claiming she was in another part of the camp. But when asked, Michnia said she knew the camp’s inmates were mostly Jews. At least 52,000 people died in Bergen-Belsen.

British occupying forces in Luneburg tried Michnia in 1945 in connection with cruelty toward prisoners along with 44 other camp guards and SS members, Die Welt reported. Eleven were sentenced to death and executed. Michnia received a one-year prison sentence and was released in November 1946.

A witness had testified that Michnia brutally beat two men with a club and kicked them with her boots because they had taken two turnips from
the kitchen. The witness, a prisoner in the kitchen who had let the men take the food, said Michnia then told her to “stop crying or I also will kill you.”

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