Alice Orlowski

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Alice Orlowski
SS Aufseherin Alice Orlowski
Alice Minna Elisabeth Elling

(1903-09-30)30 September 1903
Died21 May 1976(1976-05-21) (aged 72)
Criminal statusDeceased
Crimes against humanity
West Germany
Incitement to racial hatred
TrialAuschwitz trial
Criminal penaltyPoland
15 years imprisonment
West Germany
10 months imprisonment

Alice Orlowski (30 September 1903 – 21 May 1976)[1] was a German concentration camp guard at several of the German Nazi camps in German-occupied Poland (1939-1945) during World War II. After the war, she was convicted of war crimes.


Born as Alice Minna Elisabeth Elling in Berlin in 1903, she began to train as a guard at the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany in 1941. In October 1942, she was selected as one of the Schutzstaffel (SS) Aufseherin to be posted at the Majdanek camp near Lublin, in German-occupied Poland, where, along with Hermine Braunsteiner, she came to be regarded as two of the most brutal overseers. They regularly loaded trucks of women destined for the gas chambers. When a child was left over, the two would throw him or her on the top of the adults like luggage, and bolt the door shut. Orlowski often awaited the arrivals of new transports of women. She would then whip the prisoners, especially across the eyes. In Majdanek, Orlowski was promoted to the rank of Kommandoführerin (Work Detail Overseer) in the sorting sheds.[citation needed]

As the SS Aufseherin, Orlowski supervised over 100 women, who sorted through items taken from prisoners who had been gassed: watches, furs, coats, gold, jewellery, money, toys, glasses, and so on. When the camp was evacuated, the Germans sent Orlowski to the notorious Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp near Kraków, in German-occupied Poland.[2] In Plaszow-Kraków, Orlowski was in charge of a work detail on the Camp Street (Lager Strasse) and was known for her viciousness.[3]

In early January 1945, Orlowski was among the SS women posted on the death march to Auschwitz-Birkenau and it was during this time that her behaviour, previously observed as being brutal and sadistic, became more humane. On the death march in mid-January 1945 from Auschwitz to Loslau, Orlowski gave comfort to the inmates, and even slept alongside them on the ground outside. She also brought water to those who were thirsty.[4] It is unknown why her attitude changed, but some speculate that she sensed the war was almost over and she would soon be tried as a war criminal. Orlowski ended up back at Ravensbrück as a guard.[3]


After the war ended in May 1945, Orlowski was captured by Soviet forces and extradited to Poland to stand trial for war crimes. The "picture book SS woman" stood accused at the Auschwitz Trial in 1947. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but was released in 1957 after serving 10 years. After her release, Orlowski moved to West Germany.[5]

In 1973, Orlowski was working a counter job in Cologne when she complained that only "half the work" had been finished, referring to the extermination of the Jews. As a result, she was arrested and charged with making anti-Semitic remarks. A West German court found Orlowski guilty of hate speech and sentenced her to 10 months in prison, of which she served 8 months.[3][5]

In 1975, the West German authorities arrested Orlowski a second time, for crimes committed in Majdanek. She was put on trial in the Third Majdanek Trial. Orlowski died from natural causes during her trial on 21 May 1976.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Info. pertaining to the birthplace, birthdate and camp service of Alice Orlowski was found in Daniel Patrick Brown, "THE CAMP WOMEN - The Female Auxiliaries Who Assisted the SS in Running the Nazi Concentration Camp System" p. 185.
  2. ^ The facts pertaining to Orlowski's crimes in Majdanek are detailed by Simon Wiesenthal in Justice Not Vengeance.
  3. ^ a b c "Orlowski Alice (Minna Elisabeth) geb. Elling". Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  4. ^ The facts about her behaviour on the death march come from Malvina Graf: I survived the Kraków Ghetto and Plaszow Camp
  5. ^ a b "Blutige Brgyda". Der Spiegel (in German). 1975-11-30. ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 2022-10-17.