Monitoring prisoners

The prisoners’ work processes were watched by civilian employees of the Siemens & Halske AG. The SS-guards watched over all of them and doled out disciplinary measures.

„A master overseer with two or three civilian workers was responsible for each work hall. For disciplinary control there was one SS-guard of the KZ, at least until November 1942“ (Strebel, 394). When female guards became more scarce, the SS suggested that female civilian personal should be encouraged to go into SS guard duty. At least officially Siemens refused to do this, but unofficial documents indicate that Siemens recruited guards directly via more obscure means (Strebel, 396ff).

Guards and civilian workers “earned themselves a “decent” reputation merely by abstaining from verbal abuse, harassment and reporting to the guards, or by maybe even slipping the prisoners some food or correspondence“ (Strebel, 401). There was also presumed to be something of a greater degree of indifference towards the prisoners, which was expressed in the form of some passiveness towards them, and this was perceived as more kindly than the treatment in the main camp.

Towards the end of the war, when the defeat of the NS regime became ever more apparent, the atmosphere between civilian and guard personnel improved noticeably. Margrit Rustow reported of a Siemens employee speculating that “when you get out, we go in“. It can be presumed that the improved treatment of the prisoners was tied to the hopes of reciprocal behavior from the other side after the foreseeable end of the camp. (Strebel, 401).

„And in more recent times there had been many changes among the guards. Many came, many went, you know. Some did not stay very long, they were trained here and left, were sent farther, somewhere farther away.“ (Interview with Margarete Becker from 05.11.1993, Loretta Walz Archive)


  • Feldenkirchen, Wilfried: Siemens. Von der Werkstatt zum Weltunternehmen. München 2003.
  • Jacobeit, Sigrid: Arbeit für Siemens in Ravensbrück. In: Eichholtz, Dietrich (Hg.): Krieg und Kriegswirtschaft: Studien zur deutschen Wirtschaftsgeschichte 1939-1945 Berlin 1999, S.157-170.
  • Krause-Schmitt, Ursula: Der Weg zum Krematorium führte am Siemenslager vorbei. – Ravensbrückhäftlinge als Zwangsarbeiterinnen bei Siemens. In: Informationen-Studienkreis: Deutscher Widerstand. Frankfurt am Main 1993, S. 38-46.
  • Strebel, Bernhard: Das KZ-Ravensbrück. Geschichte eines Lagerkomplexes. Paderborn 2003.