Maria Günzl

Maria Günzl is born in Zwodau an der Eger on 3-23-1896, the oldest of eight children of a social democratic family. At fourteen she joins the Austrian workers movement as a factory worker, later she works in the women's organization of the social democratic party. After the National Socialists' invasion of the USSR, she is arrested as district secretary in Karlsbad for the Czech social democratic party and is imprisoned first in Lichtenburg and then, in May of 1939, in Ravensbrück . Here she must perform the very hardest of work. In 1942 Maria Günzl is supposed to be set free. However, she is only able to return home in 1943 as she is first forced to work in an SS married couple's household on Wolfgangsee (Bavaria). Although she is closely watched by the local Gestapo, she continues her illegal political activities and, on December 1944, is finally arrested, interrogated and severely tortured. On May 8, 1945, after she has already been picked up for her execution, the approach of Russian tanks and finally the invasion of people into the prison building prevents the shooting about to take place. After 1945 she is active in Bavaria as Landtag representative. Maria Günzl dies in Munich in 1983. Ten of her poems have been handed down. Here the daily role call, occuring several times a day, appears to be a special collective punishment, for instance as a measure for escape attempts. Even more agonizing than the hours of standing, during which the legs swelled and many women fainted, was the kicking in the face of those who collapsed dead by the SS personnel. With that they robbed the not just the dead but also the living women of the last of their human dignity.

Constanze Jaiser

Felicie Mertens: Roll Call.
Memorial Ravensbrück.
Prisoners' identification marks
Memorial Ravensbrück.

Voices from Ravensbrück   © Pat Binder