The Nazi Monster in Her Dressing Gown. Wanted List: Wallisch at the Door of Her Flat Murder Camp: Women Prisoners at Ravensbruck in 1945

Article excerpt

Byline: Allan Hall

SHE seems harmless enough now, the elderly figure in a dressing gownpeering round the door to her flat.

Erna Wallisch, an 85-year-old grandmother, rarely ventures out, spending herdays drinking coffee and being cared for by her family.

But the image she presents belies a dark past which has put her seventh on theSimon Wiesenthal Centre's list of most-wanted Nazi war criminals still atlarge.

As a young waman during the Second World War, Mrs Wallisch inspired terror inthose she helped to guard in Nazi concentration camps.

Some former prisoner say she beat inmates to death.

One, who told how she attacked a young boy when she was pregnant, said: 'Thesweating, breathless face of that monster is something I will never forget.'

Mrs Wallisch, who was born in eastern Germany, lives in a small apartment onthe banks of the Danube in Vienna where she was tracked down by the Britishhistorian and author Guy Walters. Despite her 'mostwanted' status, her name isprinted on the bell-push.

When found by Mr Walters, Mrs Wallisch refused to comment on his investigationinto her past as a brutal concentration camp guard.

Neighbours said they knew nothing 90,000 of Ravensbruck's female inmates diedbetween 1939 and 1945 about her history. Most told Mr Walters she should beleft alone, rather than brought to justice. 'It's all in the past and should beforgotten,' said one. 'People should learn to forgive.' The Austrian governmentis refusing to prosecute Mrs Wallisch, saying it is too late.

'I do not find this attitude surprising,' said Mr Walters, who is writing abook called Hunting Evil about the escape and pursuit of Nazi war criminals.

'For too long, the Austrians have been unacceptably lenient with these evil menand women in their midst. I suspect their reluctance to confront thesecriminals is because it would only highlight the extent of Austrian complicitywith Nazism.' It is not known if Mrs Wallisch's family who bring her groceriesand sit chatting to her are, like her neighbours, unaware of her past.

Mrs Wallisch, the daughter of a postal clerk, was born Erna Pfannenstiel in1922. She joined the Nazi party as a teenager and became a guard at theRavensbruck women's concentration camp near Berlin where British SOE agentViolette Szabo was among the tens of thousands murdered.

Mrs Wallisch was later transferred to the Majdanek death camp near Lublin inPoland where she was based between October 1942 and

January 1944. …