Many news sources are carrying the story of Elfreide Rinkel who, for over 60 years, hid a a dark secret from friends and family. Although to her friends and family, especially her Jewish husband Fred, Mrs Rinkel was one of many Germans who had come to the US after the second world war to seek a better life.
On Tuesday the US Department Justice announced that Mrs Rinkel had been deported to Germany after US investigators discovered she had worked as a guard at Ravensbrück concentration camp, north of Berlin, from June 1944 to April 1945.
According to US charges filed in April, Elfriede Huth, who was born July 14 1922 in the east German city of Leipzig, had applied for a US immigrant visa in Frankfurt in 1959. The application told her to list all her residences from 1938, but she omitted Ravensbrück. She was admitted to the US in September 1959 at San Francisco.
Her sister-in-law, who was married to Mrs Rinkel's brother, Fred Rinkel had no idea of his wife's dark past. His funeral service was held at a Jewish memorial chapel and he was an active member of the Jewish service organisation B'nai B'rith. "He had to leave Germany during all that terrible stuff that happened there and had to relocate in Shanghai," she said. "A lot of the Jewish Germans went to Shanghai."
Mrs Rinkel had met her husband at a German-American Club in San Francisco. She lived in the US until her deportation. "We did help her to close up her apartment and helped her to buy her airplane ticket and go to the airport and buy her luggage - but never a word about why she was leaving," said her sister in law. "We thought she was going because her situation in her apartment had deteriorated. She said she just wanted to go back to Germany ... we believed her."
Completed in 1939, Ravensbruck was built almost exclusively for female prisoners. More than 130,000 women, mainly came from Poland or the occupied Soviet Union, passed through the camp during its history .. Only 40,000 survived. German historians said Mrs Rinkel had been one of about 3,500 young, unattached and mainly uneducated women from Germany and Austria who were overseers at the camp, some of whom were later executed.
Ephraim Zuroff, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, said Mrs Rinkel's story was typical. Many low-ranking Germans who collaborated with the Nazis kept silent about their role to family and friends for decades afterwards, he said. He conceded, however, that what made Mrs Rinkel's case extraordinary was that she had then married a German Jew.