Salvequart, Vera, born on the 26-11-1919 in Wonotsch in Czechoslovakia brought up by Czech and German parents and trained as a nurse in Leipzig. According to her she served 10 months in Flossenbürg concentration camp for refusing to reveal to the Gestapo the identity of her Jewish boyfriend in 1941 and then two years commencing in 1942 for a similar offence, being released in April 1944. She had not been an SS guard, but rather a prisoner herself in Ravensbrück. She was sent to Ravensbrück on 06-12-1944 after being arrested for helping five detained officers escape and as a Kapo worked as a nurse in the camp’s hospital wing.
Due to a shortage of personnel the SS frequently used German prisoners to supervise other inmates, and Vera was among those chosen to serve, likely due to her pre-war training as a nurse. She served in the camp’s medical wing as a nurse during her stay, and oversaw the gassing of thousands of women. Her job was to fill out death certificates for the dead, and inspect their cadavers for gold teeth, which were kept to finance the war effort. By February 1945, she was reportedly taking a more active role in the killings; now she was poisoning the sickly in the medical wing to avoid the effort of having to transport them to the gas chambers. After Ravensbrück was liberated by the Soviet Union in April 1945, she was captured, as well as the others who had served there, and held for military trials dubbed the Ravensbrück Trials. Although former prisoners testified about this active role, Salvequart herself would only confess to her earlier duties filling out death certificates at her trial. Here she was said to have administered poison in form of a white powder to some 50 of the patients, of whom 12 died.
On Tuesday, 18-12-1946, the main prosecution witness against Salvequart, Irene Ottelard, gave evidence. In court, she identified accused no. 10 as the ward nurse in camp Uckermark. Cross-examined by Major Stewart, Ottelard said that Salvequart had the sole responsibility for the camp because the SS-man in charge, Joseph Köhler, was rarely present. She never saw a physician in the ward. Salvequart gave injections and a “w hite powder“ to sick women. Ottelard was present when her friend was given such a white powder by Salvequart, and saw her die subsequently. Salvequart used to tell the inmates on such occasions that they were to be sent on a transport, and that they needed to take this powder in order to gain strength. Should they refuse to take the powder, they would be given an injection by her. Irene Ottelard observed that the women who received the powder or an injection fell into a deep sleep. Within 24 hours they all stopped breathing and died. According to Ottelard’s evidence, Salvequart was never surprised to see that her patients had died. Ottelard observed this procedure more than once but could not remember how often. In every case several women were concerned, at least three to five, sometimes more.
At the trials, Vera Salvequart.went on record stating:
I remember that the sick had no trust in the beginning because they thought that I took part in the mass murdering. I must say that in their place, I would have had the same impression. I was locked up without interruption, couldn’t go anywhere alone, and all they knew about me was that I lived there where they murdered so many people. Additionally, the prisoners saw when I entered the washroom in the case of Schikovsky; they heard the woman scream and therefore assumed that I was part of the murder.
In her own defense, she claimed that she had acted in a benevolent fashion towards the prisoners, and described how she saved some women and children from death by substituting their camp identification number with that of those already dead.
She claimed to have kept one infant hidden and had male prisoners bring food and milk for him. For suspected insubordination, she claimed, the SS had threatened to send her to the gas chambers herself, until several male prisoners who appreciated what she did, disguised her as a male prisoner; a guise she kept up until the end of the war at which point the allies found her en route to a camp for released prisoners.
Death and burial ground of Salvequart, Vera.
. She was granted but the Royal prerogative of mercy was withheld and on Thursday the 26-06-1947 she followed the other three to the gallows. She was the first of thirteen prisoners to be hanged that day by Albert Pierrepoint,
assisted by Regimental Sergeant Major Richard Anthony O’Neill, the execution being carried out at 9.03 am.
Major-General Horatio Pettus Mackintosh Berney-Ficklin who feared German martyrdom, ordered that Vera and the other hanged were buried in the Hamelin prison yard. Berney-Ficklin died age 68 on 17-02-1961 in Cape Town.
In 1954 Vera Salvequart and all other war criminals are reburied in holy ground at Am Wehl Cemetery. The graveyard had graves with crosses and names, but after many discussions about the Neo Nazi visits, on 05-03-1986 all 200 Iron Crosses were removed and the graveside is now a grass field.