From: Sq.Officer V.M. Atkins,
War Crimes Section,
BRITISH ARMY OF THE RHINE.
25 Jun 46
The War Office
Subjects: Mrs. E.S. Plewman F.A.N.Y.
Miss Madeleine Dammerment @ Dussautoy, F.A.N.Y.
Mrs. Y.E.M. Beekman nee Unternahrer, S/O W.A.A.F. 9922
It has now been established that the above-named were executed in the camp of Dachau in the early hours of 13 September 1944, probably by shooting. The full circumstances surrounding this case are not yet known but the fact that they were killed in the early hours of 13 September 1944 has been definitely established. I assume that you will take the usual casualty action.
The facts, as far as they are known, are as follows:
Elaine Plewman was captured at Marseilles on or about 23 March 1944, it is believed that she passed through the prison of Les Beaumettes in Marseilles and was then sent to Fresnes near Paris.
Yolande Unternahrer was captured near St. Quentin on or about 15 January 1944 and she was first taken to 84 Avenue Foch, Paris and later transferred to Fresnes. (Haar echtgenoot agent Jaap Beekman werd hierover pas na zijn dropping in de nacht van 28 op 29 augustus 1944 over geïnformeerd)
Madeleine Dammerment was captured on landing on 29 February 1944 near Chartres. I believe she was taken to Fresnes straight away.
On 12 May 1944, they left Frenes Prison together with Odette Samsom, who has returned safely, and Diana Rowden, Nora Inayat-Khan, Vera Leigh and Andree Borrel, who were killed at Natzweiler on 6 July 1944.
They went straight to Karlsruhe where they were put into the civilian jail for women and they remained there until the early hours of 12 September 1944.
I have seen the following witnesses apart from Mrs. Odette Sansom in connection with their stay in Karlsruhe:
Frau Becker and Frau Hager: in charge of the women's jail, Karlsruhe, as well as the three temporary wardresses, all of whom remember the girls; I have also seen:
Fraulein Hedwig Muller, 28 im Grün, Karlsruhe-Rüppurr, who shared a cell with Madeleine Dammerment, whom she knew as Martine Dussautoy. Hedwig Muller was a nurse and was jailed for making jokes in public about Hitler.
I enclose a letter from Hedwig Muller which she asks shoud be forwarded to Martine's mother.
I also saw
Frau Else Sauer of 3 Nichtigallenweg, Rheinstrandsiedlung, Karlsruhe, who was in Martine's cell the night she was fetched away. I attached Frau Sauer's sworn statement. From this it will be seen that she also knew Elaine Plewman by sight and that she saw her leaving at the same time as Martine.
I also saw
Frau Nina Hagen of 5 Gritzner Strasse, Durlach, near Karlsruhe, who shared a cell with Yolande Beekman. A attach translation of het deposition.
Whilst in the Karlsruhe Prison, the girls were not ill-treated; they were put into separate cells which they shared with one or two German prisoners - most of them appear to have been political rather than criminal prisoners - and there is no doubt that Hedwig Muller, Else Sauer and Nina Hagen struck up a very real friendship with our girls and that they did everything possible to help them by sharing their food parcels and having their laundry washed, etc. Nevertheless, they obviously had a very hard time of it and they became very anxious when first the four girls and then Odette Sansom disappeared and they could find out nothing about their fate. They were locked up in their cells during the heavy raids on Karlsruhe and apparently showed amazing courage and cheered up their cell mates, of whom all spoke of them with the greatest admiration
On the afternoon of 11 September, Fraulein Becker received instructions to prepare the girls for departure early next morning and she went round to each of the cells and returned to the girls their personal belongings and told them that they would be moving off the next day.
About 01.30 on 12 September they were called out of their cells by an elderly male warder who was on night duty and were taken down to the reception room where they were collected by Gestapo officers.
I have interrogated numerous members of the Karlsruhe Gestapo and, in particular, the two officials who accompanied the girls to Dachau. Theur accounts of this journey differ in several respects but I am satisfied that, in broad outline, the following took place:
The girls were driven by car, accompanied by three Gestapo officials, two of whom have been identified as Kriminalsecretar Wassmer and Ott, to the station of Karlsruhe or of the nearly town of Bruchsal and caught the early train to Munich, arriving in the late afternoon. Here they changed trains and caught the last train up to Dachau, some 20 miles north-west of Munich. They were handed over to some camp officials and spent the night in the cells. Between 8 and 10 the next morning, 13 September they were taken to the crematorium compound and shot through the back of the head and immediately cremated.
I attach translation of the statement made by Max Wassmer and extracts from the statement made by Christian Ott. They are at present in U.S. custody but their transfer to this zone has been requested and I shall then have an oportunity of interrogating them more closely and obtaining a more complete account of what happened.
The next of kin addresses are as follows:
Mrs. E. Plewman.
Husband: Capt. T.L. Plewman, Woodstock House, Athy, Co. Kildare.
Mother: Mrs. Bartoli, Rafael Calvo 11, Madrid.
Bother: Fl/Lt. A. Browne-Bartoli.
Miss M. Dammerment.
Mother: Mme. Dammerment, Bureau des Postes Marquette, Lille Nord.
Reverend Mother Superior, French Convent, Verulam Road, Hitchin Herts.
The latter to Martine's mother should be written in French and no doubt Major Hazeldine will help, if requested. The reverend Mother Superior at the convent in Hitchin has taken a very close interest in Martine, who made the convent her home whilst in England and she specially requested that the Mother Superior be informed shouls anything happen to her.
Mrs. Y. Beekman.
Mother: Mrs Unternaher, 6 Lissenden Mansions, Highgate Road, N.W. 5.
Husband: The last address I have for her husband is: Sgt. J. Beekman, S.W. District Office, Horwick Place, PO Box 150. NM 1.
In case S/O Beekman, casualty action to be taken by P.4 Cas, Air Ministry, 77 Oxford Street, London S.W. 1.
In the case of Mrs. Plewman, F.A.N.Y. and MissDammerment F.A.N.Y.
I suggest that the first notification be sent out by telegram. I attach for your guidance draft letter for next-of-kin, as requested.
Toegangspoort van Dachau.
Statement of Frau Nina HAGEN, born 1.1.1897 in Königsbach, now residing in DURLACH, Gritzmerstrasse 5.
I was a political prisoner in KARLRUHE from June until 4 September 1944. I was in cell No. 25 and there I knew YOLANDE BEEKMAN. I recognise her photograph. On arrival and then once again she was interrogated by the Gestapo.
Yolande had been ill-treated in France. She was very worried about her mother, her husband, her sister and children.
Frau Klara FRANK, Neibsheim, near Bruchsal, who has a farm, was in cell 25 when Yolande left.
Deposition made before me SQ/O Atkins in Karlsruhe on 26 April 1946.
Deposition of FRAU Else SAUER, nee KLENERT. Born 29-3-1904 in DURLACH, now residing in KARLSRUHE, Rheinstrandsiedlung, Nachtigallenweg 3. Sworn before Squadron Officer V.M. Atkins, attached to Judge Advocate General's Branch, War Crimes Section, British Army of the Rhine on 23 April 1946.
I am of German nationality. I was a political prisoner in the women's jail at KARLSRUHE from 12 July 1944 to 12 September 1944.
For the latter part of this time I shared a cell with an English girl, whom I knew as Martine Bussautoy and a German prisoner Frau Wipfler of Bruchsal.
Our cell was No. 17. I know that in cell No.16 there was another English girl by the name of Elaine Plewman. I also know that in cell No. 25 there was a third English girl who was referred to as Yvonne. I have been shown a photograph marked Dammerment and recognise this as a photograph of the girl I knew as Martine Dussautoy. I have also seen the photograph maked Elaine Plewman and recognise her as the girl of cell No. 16.
In the afternoon of 11 September 1944 Fraulein Becker who was in charge of the women's jail, came to our cell and told Martine that she should prepare for departure during the night. Martine asked to be allowed to collect some of her belongings from the little case which had been taken from her on arrival. Fraulein Becker agreed to this and took Martine to collect her things and brought her back to our cell. Martine was distressed at the thought of going into the unknown and that evening we talked longer than usual. Martine had always shown very great courage particulary during some of the very bad air raids on Karlsruhe and she asked me that evening thay I should try to get a message to England after the war, saying that she had died gladly for her country.
Shortly after 1 a.m. on the morning of 12 September 1944, heavy footsteps were heard in the corridor and they stopped at cell No. 16. We heard a knock and a man's voice which said "Get up, Plewman!" then a knock on our door and a man opened the hatch and called out "Get up, Dammerment!". Then the footsteps disappeared along the corridor in the direction of cell No. 25. I cannot say whether he stopped there. Some 10 or 15 minutes later the footsteps came back and stopped at cell No. 16 The door opened and a man called out "Get out, Plewman!" He came to our door. He opened the door and I could see through the crack a girl whom I recognised to be ELiane Plewman. He caled out "Get out, Dammerment!" Frau Wipfler then said "Wie spät ist es, Herr Spät?"(How late is it, Mr Spät?) and he answered "01.30" The man who fetched the girls was one of the officials from the male camp, whom I can describe as fairly small and shrunken grey looking. After the door had closed Frau Wipfler informed me that she knew his name was Spät. I heard the footsteps disappear down the corridor going in the direction of cell No. 25. I cannot say whether they stopped there. Frau Wipfler and I were listening carefully and heard the heavy footsteps of Spät echo down the corridor. Suddenly there was complete silence, we both said that it was as if the earth swallowed them up.
6. When I arrived in the prison of Karlsruhe on 12 July 1944 I was told that there was a Mrs. Churchill in one of the cells, but she must have left shortly afterwards. I only knew definitely of the three girls Eliane Plewman, Martine Dussautoy and Yvonne od cell No. 25. I also recognise the photograph marked Beekman as the girl I knew as Yvonne.
Sworn by the sais deponent Else SAUER voluntarily at Karlsruhe Nachtigallenweg 3 on 24 April 1946 before me Sq/Off. V.M. Atkins and I hereby certify that the said deponent, not understanding English, tha above statement was translated to her before signature and that she fully agreed with the contents thereof.
V.M. Atkins Sq/Off.
TRANSLATED extract from Deposition dated 27 May 1946 of Kriminal Sekretär Christian OTT, born 23 october 1886 (Blaubeuer) at present in prison of KARLSRUHE.
On 21 August 1944 it became known that a transport was to leave Karlsruhe for Dachau, I thought the matter over then decided that I would be able to visit my family in Stuttgart on the return journey from Dachau. I did not know at first what kind of transport was intended when I volunteered to accompany it.
Kriminal Sekretär WASSMER of this office was in charge of the transport. Transport was undertaken by WASSMER and myself accompanied by two other officials from here but I cannot today remember the names of these two other officials.
In the course of 22 August 1944 I heard in the office that it was a case of four female parachutists who had been sent to Karlsruhe from Paris several months ago. It was mentioned that the greatest care would have to be taken. the date for the transport was fixed for 23 August 1944.
Railway traffic was already disturbed at this period around Karlsruhe, for this reason WASSMER and I agreed to take the prisoners by car from Karlsruhe to Bruchsal. WASSMER lived in Bruchsal. WASSMER was not present during the transport by car from Karlsruhe to Bruchsal because he left for Bruchsal the day before to be with his family and met us at the station. for this reason I was responsible for the transport from Karlsruhe to Bruchsal.
On 23 August 1944 towards 2 a.m. I drove from my office, Ritterstrasse 28, with a little van and two officials to the prison to fetch the four prisoners. In the prison I checked carefully ther personal data of the four prisoners which I noted dowm after the person on night-duty had brought the four prisoners into the reception room. It is possible a wardress brought the prisoners in, since it was generally forbidden for male personnel to go into the women's department of the jail.
In the reception room of the prison I saw the four prisoners for the first time. They were four women in civil clothes, aged between 24 and 32; all were well dressed. I cannot remember their names except that one was called Blanche. I have a vague recollection that one of the older ones was called "Moreaux" or something similar.
The four prisoners met for the first time again in the reception room and said that they had now been in solitary confinment for nine months. When they greeted one another they were very delighted and were surpriced how well they looked.
After completing the formalities in the prison I handcuffed the prisoners two together in the usual manner. I did this because I had been warned to exercise every care.
At about 02.30 we than drove off to Bruchsal where we arrived at the station without incident.
From Bruchsal the transport continued by train to Stuttgart. Shortly before the departure of the train WASSMER arrived and he had also brought the tickets. The train left shortly after 04.00 from Bruchsal for Stuttgart. Nothing particular occurred as far as Stuttgart. In Stuttgart we had about one hour's wait. We got out and remained on the platform until we continued the journey. The prisoners stood a little aside and chatted together. During this time I spoke to WASSMER and asked him several times whether recently Dachau had also received women. WASSMER, who at last was tired of my repeated question, showed me a telegram from the RSHA BERLIN and told me to read it. This telegram was in the usual form and was worded to express the following meaning:
"The four prisoners will be transferred from the Leitstelle KARLSRUHE to the KZ Dachau and will then be immediately executed" (The word "executed" definitely figured in the text.)
The telegram was signed by Dr Kaltenbrunner; I can remember his signature because WASSMER when reading through it said to me that this must be an important case since the telegram had been signed personally by 'ERNST', that is to say Dr. Kaltenbrunner. Only now I realised the seriousness of this transport and I said to myself that if I had known this I would have foregone the pleasure of a visit to my family in Stuttgart. As the four prisoners made a good impression on me, I regretted their fate at the same time particularly as a member of my family underwent the same fate.
During the journey from Stuttgart to Munich I had an opportunity of talking to the prisoners, in particular with the English woman who spoke a little German. I did not tell them of the fate in store for them, on the contrary I tried to keep them in a happy mood. The English woman told me that all four were officers in the Women's Auxiliary Forces. She said that she had the rank of Major, that one of her companions was a Captain and two were Lieutenants. On closer questioning she told me that she had been dropped by parachute in France and had worked in the Secret Service. One or two of her companions had been caught by the Germans shortly after they landed. One or two of them had jumped into France for the third time. She told me further that they had been trained for Secret Service in France. In France they had only spoken French in order not to be recognised as English. She mentioned nothing of her work as an agent. The four prisoners also wanted to know how where they were being taken. WASSMER told them that they were being taken to a camp where much farming was done, they were not told they were going to Dachau.
The journey to Munich also passed without incident. From Munich we then went to Dachau where we arrived after dark at about 10 o'clock in the evening.
We then walked up to the camp of Dachau and handed in the four prisoners. After about 15 minutes the prisoners were taken over by the camp officials and led into the camp. We were allowed to sleep in the building above the gate from where I could see a part of the camp of Dachau next morning. WASSMER left early and upon his return he told me that he had already seen the Lagerkommandant (SS Obersturmbannführer Eduard Weiter of Martin Gottfried Weiss) and that the exexcution of the four prisoners would take place at 9 o'clock. It was about 8.30 when WASSMER told me this. WASSMER then left again as he had to report to the Lagerkommandant. At about 10.30 WASSMER returned and said that everything was finished. The four prisoners had not been shot. He himself had read the death sentence to the prisoners. WASSMER told me when I questioned him that he had told the prisoners in the presence of the Lagerkommandant that the German Reichsregierung had pronounced the death sentence and that this sentence would be executed immediately.
About the shooting itself WASSMER said the following: "The four prisoners had come from the barrack in the camp where they had spent the night into the yard, that is to say, into the place where the shooting was to be done". Here he had announced the death sentence to them. Only the Lagerkommandant and two SS-men (Franz Trenke & Theodore Bongartz) had been present. The German-speaking woman (the Major) had told her companions of this death sentence. All four had grown very pale and had wept; the Major asked whether they could protest against this sentence. The Kommandant declared that no protest could be made against the sentence. The Major had then asked to see a priest. The Lagerkommandant refused this on the grounds that there was no priest in the camp.
The four prisoners now had to kneel down with their faces towards a small mound of earth and were killed by the two SS-men one after another by a shot through the back of the neck. During the shooting the two English women held hands and the two French women likewise. For three of the prisoners the first shot caused death, but for the German-speaking English woman a second shot had to be fired as she still showed signs of life after the first shot.
After the shooting of these prisoners the Lagerkommandant said to the two SS-men that he took a personal interest in the jewellery of the women and that this should be taken to his office. After the shooting four prisoners had come from the camp of Dachau and had loaded the four bodies on to a handcart. WASSMER could not say what happened further with these bodies but he thought that they had most probably been burned.
I have now descibed this case thruthfully, partly as I have lived it myself, and partly as it had been described to me by WASSMER. If I had been present at the shooting I would say so without hesitation as one need not have reproached me with it. It is perhaps remarkable that I remember the dates of these various happenings; I know it only because my wife had a birthday the next day, that is to say on the 25 August 1944, and because I compared the fate of these four prisoners with the fate of my step-son who had about that time been condemmed to death by the Volksgerichthof Berlin for political agitation.
I had noted the personal data of the four prisoners who had been executed on the back of an envelope and kept this for a length of time with the intention of letting the next-of-kin know at a later date if the opportunity should arise. After several months I destroyed the envelope because I myself did not feel very certain of the Gestapo.
I could even today recognisedthe German-speaking English woman if I were shown a photograph; I could describe her as follows: about 32 years old, 1 metre 64, full figure (she herself said she had gained 30 lbs. in prison), pale round face, full lips, dark hair; she was vert carefully groomed, wearing a grey-striped costume and had a small case with equipment usually carried by a parachutist. I cannot describe the other three persons since their appearance was more ordinary.
On the return from Dachau I paid a visit to my family and returned the following day to Karlsruhe.
The Order for this transport to Dachau was passed to Kriminal Sekretär WASSMER by Kriminal RÖSNER. I can only repeat again that I was not present at the shooting of the four prisoners at Dachau, but that my detailed account of these happenings is based on what Kriminal-Sekretär WASSMER told me. I do not personally know the circumstances of the arrest of these four women. Kriminal Kommisar KIEFFER, or his right-hand man Kriminal Sekretär Ludwig SCHRÖDER (alias ATILLA) will be able to give information on this. Both lived in Karlsruhe towards the end. KIEFFER and SCHRÖDER were in the Gestapo Karlsruhe before their call-up. as far as I can remember SCHRÖDER also arranged for the transport for the four women from France to Germany.
Kan het zijn dat de vrouw die Christian Ott aanduidde als 'De Majoor' Yolande Beekman was. Mogelijk sprak zij Duits vanwege haar ouders die uit Zwitserland kwamen.
Noor- Inayat-Kahn zou door de SS-er Ruppert dusdanig mishandelt zijn dat zij vrijwel niet meer herkenbaar was. Wassmer vertelt hier niets over aan Christian Ott. Ook zou Noor Inayat-Khan niet in Karlsruhe in de gevangenis hebben gezeten, maar in Porzheim, Zij heeft hier maanden aan kettingen gelegen vanwege twee eerdere ontsnappings pogingen.
Zou het kunnen dat Noor Inayat-Kahn direct na de mishandeling door Wilhelm Ruppert is doodgeschoten en dat de drie overige vrouwen door Trenkle en Bongartz zijn geëxecuteerd?
Wie is de Nederlander met de initialen A.F. die ook in Dachau gevangen zat die de executie gezien heeft en daar een verklaring over afgelegd heeft aan Jean Overton-Fuller, de schrijfster van de biografie over Noor Inayat-Kahn. Hij wordt ook wel Yoop (Joop) genoemd. Volgens hem is Noor Inayat-Kahn door Ruppert na mishandelt te zijn doodgeschoten door middel van een pistoolschot door het achterhoofd.
Over de zoektocht van Vera Atkins naar de vermiste SOE agentes is meer te vinden in het boek 'A life in sectrets' van Sarah Helm, ISBN978-1-4000-3140-5
YOLANDE IN FRANKRIJK
TERUG NAAR OVERZICHT