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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
US widow deported over Nazi past
Elfriede Rinkel
Mrs Rinkel never told her Jewish husband her secret
An elderly German woman who kept secret her role as a Nazi concentration camp guard for more than 60 years has been deported from the US, it has emerged.

Elfriede Rinkel, who was married to a Jewish man, was described as a "nice, sweet lady" by those who knew her.

Mrs Rinkel, 84, never revealed the grim details of her past during the 47 years she lived in San Francisco.

But earlier this month US officials uncovered her role as a guard during WWII, and deported her back to Germany.

Mrs Rinkel's husband Fred was a German Jew who arrived in the US after escaping the Holocaust. He died in 2004, never learning of his wife's secret.

'Horrific mistreatment'

According to the US Department of Justice, Mrs Rinkel served as a guard at the Ravensbruck women's labour camp in Germany from June 1944 until April 1945, when it was abandoned by the Nazis.

There she worked with an SS-trained attack dog, but was not a member of the Nazi party.

Attack dogs were used to march malnourished inmates back and forth from slave labour sites each day, the department added.

An estimated 90,000 people died at the camp during WWII.

She was... such a nice, sweet lady who seemed to have a very loving relationship with her husband
Gene Kaufman

"Concentration camp guards such as Elfriede Rinkel played a vital role in the Nazi regime's horrific mistreatment of innocent victims," Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher said.

"This case reflects the government's unwavering commitment to remove Nazi persecutors from this country."

Mrs Rinkel is said to have left Germany for America in 1959, but never applied for citizenship.

Her lawyer, Alison Dixon, believed her marriage to a Jew could have "been a type of atonement for her".

"She married a Jewish man, and she gave to Jewish charities," she told the LA Times.

Relatives were said to be shocked by the revelation, which emerged after court documents were released on Tuesday.

Mrs Rinkel has also handed back a burial plot she had reserved for herself next to her husband's grave.

Gene Kaufman, the director of the Sinai Memorial Chapel where the grave lies, said: "She was just such a pleasant-looking lady and very small. Such a nice, sweet lady who seemed to have a very loving relationship with her husband."

Mrs Rinkel was deported on 1 September under a settlement agreement with the US government.

Under federal law in the US, immigrants who participated in acts of Nazi-led persecution must be deported.

US to deport alleged Nazi guard
29 Dec 05 |  Americas
My grandad the Nazi
01 Aug 05 |  Magazine

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