“Did I make a mistake? No. The mistake was that it was a concentration camp, but I had to go to it, otherwise I would have been put into it myself. That was my mistake.”
That was an excuse former guards often gave. But it was not true. Records show that some new recruits did leave Ravensbrück as soon as they realised what the job involved. They were allowed to go and did not suffer negative consequences.
I ask Selma if she thinks the guards were diabolical monsters. “I think they were ordinary women doing diabolical things. I think it’s possible with loads of people, even in England. I think that can happen anywhere. It can happen here if it’s allowed.”
Sometimes the women are portrayed as exploited victims. At other times as sadistic monsters.
The truth is more horrifying. They were not extraordinary monsters, but rather ordinary women, who ended up doing monstrous things.