Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten Mahn‑ und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück

Places of Residence, Places of Crime: The House of the Female Guards

For the second time, the Memorial Museum Ravensbrück has provided the exhibition “In the SS-Auxiliary” with a very special location: One out of the eight “Aufseherinnenhäuser”, the former place of residence of the female guards.

A flat for one's own was a privilege for a young woman at the time, and for some guards, this may have played a role when deciding to take up a work position at the camp. The flats came fully furnished and suggested order, homeliness and an additional portion of “everyday life”. Even in retrospect, when listening to the description of the housing situation by former guards during interviews, there is a sense of longing for the “cozy” interiors. Notwithstanding the fact, that the chanting voices of the prisoners passing by would more than often pierce through the curtains.

The today vacant buildings allow for an unobstructed inspection of the place, where a clear separation between a place of residence and a place of crime can no longer be drawn. Missing curtains invite the visitors to look out from the windows, that respectively frame the forest, the lake, and the camp. Is 'perspective' just an act of convenience, a decision of framing and skipping through? Is the simple turning of one's head a convincing enough explanation, to forget about the camp in one's back?

As a matter of fact, the houses of the female guards did turn very literally into a crime scene even before their completion. A historical photograph in the exhibition shows female prisoners digging out the fundaments of the new housing units as part of their compulsory labor.

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