Gertrud Heise

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Gertrud Heise (23 July 1921 – ?) was a female guard and later, SS overseer at several concentration camps during the Second World War. Heise was born in Berlin, Germany. She was tried for war crimes in 1946.[1]

World War II[edit]

In 1941, Heise joined the SS Women's Auxiliary and, on 21 November 1941, arrived at Ravensbrück for training. In October 1942, she was one of several women, including Hermine Braunsteiner, to be sent to KZ Majdanek camp near Lublin as an Aufseherin.[2] The gas chambers began operation there in September 1942,[3] with more than 79,000 people exterminated during its 34 months of operation.[4]

Heise worked at the camp until January 1944 when she accompanied a transport of women to Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp on the outskirts of Kraków. She remained there until she was assigned to guard the death march to KZ Auschwitz-Birkenau west, ahead of the Soviet offensive. From there she guarded a prisoner evacuation train in October 1944 to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, Germany.

An aerial reconnaissance photograph of the Bremen-Obernheide concentration camp area, where Gertrud Heise was an Oberaufseherin in winter of 1944

In November 1944, Heise was promoted to Oberaufseherin and sent to Obernheide,[5] the subcamp of KZ Neuengamme (Lagerbordell operated there since spring of 1944 with full staff).[6]

At Bremen-Obernheide, she and SS-Hauptscharführer Johann Hille,[7] commanded 500 Hungarian and 300 Polish women prisoners with a very high rate of deaths, regular beatings and denial of rations.[8][9] Heise fled Obernheide in April 1945 with the evacuation of surviving women prisoners to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.[8]

Heise was later captured by British soldiers and interrogated. She was placed on trial for war crimes. On 22 May 1946 a British court handed her a sentence of 15 years imprisonment for her already confirmed war crimes. She was released after 10 years by West German judiciary.[9] Gertrud Heise was last reported alive in Hamburg in 1970.[9]


  1. ^ Geoffrey P. Megargee (2009). "Gertrud Heise". The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum encyclopedia of camps and ghettos, 1933-1945. Indiana University Press. p. 1097. ISBN 0253354293. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  2. ^ "KZ Aufseherinnen". Majdanek Liste. Women in the Reich. 3 April 2005. Retrieved 1 April 2013. Frauen in der SS at the Wayback Machine (archived June 6, 2007) See: index or articles ("Personenregister"). Oldenburger OnlineZeitschriftenBibliothek. 
  3. ^ State Museum at Majdanek, "Timeline of the most important events (1942)", Majdanek concentration camp, Poland, retrieved 13 November 2014 
  4. ^ Paweł Reszka (23 December 2005). "Majdanek Victims Enumerated. Changes in the history textbooks?". Gazeta Wyborcza (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum). Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  5. ^ Mario Förster, Michaela Weiß (2009). "Prozesse gegen NS-Täter nach 1945 am Beispiel von Johann Hille und Gertrud Heise" (PDF file, direct download 163 KB). Förderprogramm Demokratisch Handeln. Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. Retrieved 1 April 2013. Translation of title: Trials of Nazi criminals after 1945 by the example of John Hille and Gertrud Heise. 
  6. ^ Silke Schäfer (6 February 2002). "Zum Selbstverständnis von Frauen im Konzentrationslager" (PDF). Lagerbordelle und SS-Bordelle (in German). Fakultät I Geisteswissenschaften der Technischen Universität Berlin. p. 72. Retrieved 1 April 2013. Translation of title: Accounts by women of concentration camps. 
  7. ^ Overview (2013). "Bremen-Obernheide". History. KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Ilse Henneberg (1999). "Mahnmal für das ehemalige Arbeitslager. Die Frauen von Obernheide: SS-Oberaufseherin Gertrud Heise". Projektkurs Spurensuche. Kooperative Gesamtschule (KGS) Stuhr-Brinkum. Retrieved 1 April 2013. Translation of title: The women of former labor camp Oberheide. SS Oberaufseherin Gertrud Heise. 
  9. ^ a b c Marcel Schramm, Marc Böhm (16 June 2009). "Die sadistische Aufseherin von Obernheide (The sadistic warden of Oberheide)". Seminararbeit. Redaktion Weyhe. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • The Camp Women: The Female Auxiliaries Who Assisted the SS in Running the Concentration Camp System, by Daniel Patrick Brown.
  • Profit für den Bremer Senat — Hunger für die Frauen