Here is one truly amazing story:
Those who knew San Francisco’s Elfriede Rinkel never found it remarkable that the German immigrant would marry a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, or attend synagogue with him, or plan to be buried next to him at a cemetery run by a Chevra Kadisha, a Jewish burial society that performs ritual purification.
On Tuesday, though, came a jarring twist: The U.S. Justice Department said the 84-year-old Rinkel had been deported to Germany, nearly half a century after she emigrated to the United States, because she had been a guard at a Nazi concentration camp in World War II where an estimated 90,000 people, many of them Jews, were exterminated.
The government said Rinkel, a permanent resident alien who never applied for U.S. citizenship, had admitted after a two-year investigation that she had guarded female prisoners at Ravensbruck from June 1944 to April 1945, when the Nazis abandoned the camp to the advancing Allies. She now lives with her younger sister in the German city of Viersen, her brother said.
The Justice Department alleged that Rinkel had used attack dogs to march emaciated inmates to slave-labor sites. More than 130,000 women from dozens of countries — Jews, Gypsies and others — were brought to Ravensbruck during its six years of existence. More than two-thirds of them died of malnourishment, in medical experiments and in a gas chamber, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Fred Rinkel, who grew up in a prominent family in Berlin, fled Germany with a brother as Nazi persecution of the Jews spread. He had trained to be an opera tenor in Germany, but after making his way to San Francisco he settled on a job as a singing waiter. Elfriede Rinkel worked as a furrier.
Fred Rinkel’s past and Jewish heritage were important to him, according to those who knew him. He belonged to B’nai B’rith, one of the world’s largest Jewish organizations.