Johanna Langefeld

Johanna Langefeld ( Essen , Germany , 5 of March of 1900 – Augsburg , Germany , 26 of January of 1974 ) was a female guard in concentration camps Nazis who actively participated in the Holocaust .


Born in Kupferdreh (now Essen , Germany ), Johanna Langefeld grew up in a nationalist and Lutheran family. Her father was a locksmith. In 1924 he moved to Mülheim and married Wilhelm Langefeld, who died in 1926 for a pulmonary obstruction. In 1928 , Langefeld became pregnant with another man, after which he moved to Düsseldorf where his son was born in August of that same year.

Langefeld was unemployed until the age of 34, when she began to teach home economics in a commercial business in the city of Neuss . From 1935, he worked as a guard at an Arbeitsanstalt (Labor Institution) in Brauweiler . In fact, it was a reformatory for prostitutes, unemployed and homeless women, as well as other so-called ‘asocial’ people, who were then locked up in concentration camps. Since 1937 , Langefeld was a member of the Nazi Party .

In the concentration camp

In March 1938 , he enlisted to work as a guard at the first concentration camp of the SS women in Lichtenburg . After a year, Langefeld became superintendent of the field until being transferred to the field of Ravensbrück in May of 1939 .

The superintendent ( Oberaufseherin ) was the assistant of the “Schutzhaftlagerführer”, the leader of the preventive custody of the camp. According to the regulations of the camp, the Oberaufseherin were to consult the Schutzhaftlagerführer in “all women’s affairs”. Johanna Langefeld was in charge of the selections in Ravensbrück during the call campaign of murders “14f13”.

In mid-March 1942 , Langefeld was assigned to the new female building in Auschwitz . There he selected the prisoners for the gas chamber . Rudolf Höß , the Commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp , recalled his relationship with Johanna Langefeld as follows:

The female Chief Supervisor of that period, Frau Langefeld, had no ability to control the situation, yet she refused to accept any of the instructions given by the leader of the Preventive Custody. Acting on my own initiative, I simply put the women’s field under its full jurisdiction.

During the visit of SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler the 18 of July of 1942 , Langefeld tried to talk to him to cancel that order. In effect, Rudolf Höß admitted after the war that “the Reichsführer SS absolutely refused to annul the order” because he wanted a “women’s camp commanded by a woman”. Himmler ordered that Langefeld should remain in his post and that in the future no SS man should enter the women’s camp.

That same month, the women’s camp at Auschwitz was moved to Birkenau three kilometers away. Two weeks later, Langefeld suffered a meniscal injury and required a cartilage operation at the Hohenlychen SS Sanatorium near Ravensbrück . During his stay there, he went to see SS Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl , the Head of the Main Office of Administration and Economy of the SS, in Berlin , and persuaded him to transfer her to the Ravensbrück camp again. Maria Mandel became the new Oberaufseherin of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Oswald Pohl gave instructions to the Chief of Department D of the SS Office of Administration and Economics, General SS Richard Glücks , so that from then on the leaders of Preventive Custody of women’s camps would be the Superintendents of The women, the Oberaufseherinnen.

Margarete Buber-Neumann, a prisoner who became Langefeld’s assistant in Ravensbrück, recalled that Langefeld was dismissed for her excessive sympathy for Polish prisoners; she was separated from her son, arrested in Breslau , where a SS court prepared A trial against her. Langefeld never went on trial, being relegated from her service duties in the Field. He moved to Munich and began work on the vehicle factory BMW . 1

Arrest and death

The 20 of December of 1945 , Langefeld was arrested by the United States Army , and extradited in September 1946 , to Poland , where the Polish judiciary prepared a trial in Krakow , against staff of the SS in Auschwitz . The 23 of December of 1946 , Johanna Langefeld escaped from prison and hid in a monastery, working in a private home. In mid- 1957 , she returned illegally to live with her sister in Munich . Langefeld died in Augsburg , Germany, on 26 of January of 1974 , at the age of 73 years.


  • Schwartz, Johannes (2003). Das Selbstverständnis Johanna Langefelds als SS-Oberaufseherin , in: Ulrich Fritz, Silvija Kavčič, Nicole Warmbold (ed.): Tatort KZ, Neue Beiträge zur Geschichte der Konzentrationslager , Ulm, pp. 71-95.
  • Schwartz, Johannes (2005). Geschlechterspezifischer Eigensinn von NS-Täterinnen am Beispiel der KZ-Oberaufseherin Johanna Langefeld , in: Viola Schubert-Lehnhardt (ed.), Frauen als Täterinnen im Nationalsozialismus , Protokollband der Fachtagung vom 17.-18. September 2004 in Bernburg, im Auftrag des Kultur- und Bildungsvereins Elbe-Saale eV in Sachsen-Anhalt, Gerbstadt, pp. 56-82, ISBN 3-00-017407-9 .
  • Schwartz, Johannes (2006). Handlungsoptionen von KZ-Aufseherinnen. Drei alltags- und geschlechtergeschichtliche Fallstudien , in: Helgard Kramer (ed.), NS-Täter aus interdisziplinärer Perspektive . Munich: Martin Meidenbauer, pp. 349-374.


  1. Back to top↑ Milena-Kafkas Freundin (Albert Langen-Georg Müller Verlag, Munich, 1977)