Heinrich Himmler often drove out to Ravensbrück, even in atrocious weather like this.The head of the SS had friends in the area and would drop in to inspect the camp as he passed by. Once he ordered more root vegetables to be put in the prisoners’ soup.

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Her address was Mérignac, Gironde, but from her date of birth she was probably dead.

A Guernsey woman called Julia Barry lived in Nettlebed in Oxfordshire. A Russian survivor was thought to be working ‘at the mother and baby unit, Leningrad railway station’.

One of the male SOE agents, imprisoned at Dachau, wrote a note saying he had heard about women from Ravensbrück being forced to work in a Dachau brothel.

Several of the interviewees mentioned a young woman guard called Binz who had ‘light, bobbed hair’. Among the prisoners were ‘the cream of Europe’s women’, according to a British investigator; they included General de Gaulle’s niece, a former British women’s golf champion and scores of Polish countesses.

The story of the Nazis’ only concentration camp for women has long been obscured—partly by chance, but also by historians’ apathy towards women’s history.

Sarah Helm writes about the camp, where the “cream of Europe’s women” were interned alongside its prostitutes, and members of the French resistance perished alongside Red Army prisoners of war.* * * From Berlin’s Tegel airport it takes just over an hour to reach Ravensbrück.The first time I drove there, in February 2006, heavy snow was falling and a lorry had jack-knifed on the Berlin ring road, so it would take longer.Inside were handwritten notes from interviews with survivors and with SS suspects – some of the earliest evidence gathered about the camp. ‘We had to strip naked and were shaved,’ one woman told Vera. A survivor talked of a camp hospital where ‘syphilis germs were injected into the spinal cord’.Another described seeing women arrive at the camp after a ‘death march’ through the snow from Auschwitz.Immediately after the war Vera launched a single-handed search for British SOE women who had been parachuted into occupied France to help the resistance, many of whom had gone missing.