Today, Herta Bothe is famous for her defiant attitude and her show of anger when the women guards at Bergen-Belsen were ordered by the British to carry decomposed corpses to mass graves with their bare hands. You can read about the history of Bergen-Belsen here.

In interviews years later, Bothe described how she was terrified of contracting typhus because the guards were not allowed to wear gloves or masks. She described how the arms and legs of the decomposed bodies came off in her hands when she tried to pick them up, and how lifting the emaciated bodies caused her back pain. Although the British brought in bulldozers and shoved some of the bodies into the mass graves, they forced the former guards to do most of the work manually as their just punishment for the horrible conditions found in the camp, after Heinrich Himmler had voluntarily turned the camp over to them on April 15, 1945.

Herta Bothe was sentenced to ten years in prison after being convicted by a British Military Tribunal in 1945. She was released on December 22, 1951.

HERTHE

The photo above shows Herta Bothe on the right; the woman in the middle is Irene Haschke, another woman guard at Bergen Belsen.

 

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