WASHINGTON – A San Francisco woman has been removed to Germany based on her participation in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution while serving during World War II as a guard of female prisoners at the infamous Nazi-operated Ravensbrück Concentration Camp in Germany, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today.
A charging document filed in U.S. immigration court in San Francisco by the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), which investigated the case, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) alleges that Elfriede Lina Rinkel, 84, a native and citizen of Germany, served as a guard at Ravensbrück from June 1944 until the camp was abandoned in the closing weeks of the war.
“Concentration camp guards such as Elfriede Rinkel played a vital role in the Nazi regime's horrific mistreatment of innocent victims,” said Assistant Attorney General Fisher. “This case reflects the Government's unwavering commitment to remove Nazi persecutors from this country.”
In a settlement agreement reached with the Government, Rinkel admitted that she served as a guard at Ravensbrück, admitted that she was deportable from the United States under a federal law that mandates the removal of aliens who participated in acts of Nazi-sponsored persecution, and agreed to the entry of an immigration court order directing her removal to Germany by September 30, 2006. Rinkel returned to Germany earlier this month pursuant to that order.
When it was established in 1939, Ravensbrück was the only Nazi concentration camp operated exclusively for the internment of female prisoners. The charging document states that while serving at Ravensbrück, Rinkel used a trained attack dog to carry out her guard duties. At Ravensbrück, SS female guards armed with attack dogs forced malnourished women inmates to march to slave labor sites each day, guarded them while they performed manual labor, and then force-marched them back to the concentration camp, where they were held under notoriously inhumane conditions. The charging document alleges that Rinkel’s activities at Ravensbrück assisted the Nazis in persecuting civilians on the basis of their race, religion, national origin, or political opinion, and that her removal from the United States is required by federal law.
Rinkel immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1959. The charging document alleges that she concealed her concentration camp service from U.S. immigration authorities when she applied for her entry visa. Rinkel never applied for U.S. citizenship.
“Thousands of innocent women were brutalized and murdered at Ravensbrück through the active participation of Elfriede Rinkel and other guards, whose principal function was to prevent prisoners from escaping the abominable conditions inside the camp,” said OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum. “Her presence in the United States was an affront to surviving Holocaust victims who have made new homes in this country.”
The case is a result of OSI’s ongoing efforts to identify, investigate and take legal action against former participants in Nazi persecution who reside in the United States. Since OSI began operations in 1979, it has won cases against 102 individuals who assisted in Nazi persecution. In addition, more than 175 individuals who sought to enter the United States in recent years have been blocked from doing so as a result of OSI’s “Watchlist” program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security.