Maria Koppensteiner

Ingrid Rimland

This happened -- and not during Hitler's time either. It happened when "liberation" came to Europe.

Maria Koppensteiner was arrested at her home in Austria by the Secret State Police, along with her three brothers. She was soon deported to a concentration camp in the east, where she was "interrogated" by professional inquisitors.

During her long ordeal between "interrogations", Maria was kept in a dirty, black, abysmal, cold and damp dungeon, where she was denied even the company of fellow prisoners. She was deprived of sleep. She was allowed no contact with the remaining members of her family. She was not allowed to write or receive letters. Her tormentors were determined to obtain a "confession" from her, in the hope that the confession would prove useful as propaganda.

Maria, who was a frail and elderly woman, suffered greatly at the hands of her interrogators, who taunted, threatened, and abused her many times daily. Finally, they succeeded in breaking her completely.

In a survivng document relating to Maria's mistreatment, her captors wrote that she finally confessed: "... (o)nly after HUNDREDS of such interrogations, when she was psychologically broken and finally understood what the interrogators wanted to get from her."

She was compelled to write a document "incriminating" her own flesh and blood. Even so, the words of the confession were not her own. She was obliged to use words like "War criminal", "wager of aggressive wars", "plunderer", "ruining of cities", "occupying countries", "destroying civilizations" and "turning people into slaves."

Broken, dispirited, and weakened from years of physical and mental abuse, Maria was soon "placed on trial" where she was given a 25 year sentence. The sentence had already been a forgone conclusion, directed by "higher-ups" within the system, and allowed for no appeal.

Abandoned and disconsolate, and in the hands of wolves, Maria was dispatched forthwith to one of the most brutal, foul concentration camps ever to be established in Eastern Europe, where, in 1953, it was reported that she had "died suddenly" while in captivity.

So, who WAS Maria Koppensteiner, and what horrifying crimes had she committed to warrant this savage treatment at the hands of such merciless inquisitors?

She was Adolf Hitler's cousin.

Aside from that one little fact, Maria had committed no crime. She was a simple, kind-hearted soul, a devoted mother to her children, and a dedicated, loving wife. How many nights of anguish she must have suffered, feeling abandoned and isolated from her loved ones, who never heard from nor saw her again -- after she was spirited away from her modest little home by Stalin's thugs from Smersh in May, 1945.

Maria was sent to the infamous Lefortovo prison in Moscow, where after many months of barbaric ill-treatment, she "signed" her "confession", along with thousands of other imprisoned Germans.

After her "show trial" she was remanded to one of the worst Soviet concentration camps, the Upper Urals prison near Chelyabinsk. And there she perished, abandoned and ignored by a world engulfed by the grim events of her time.

Maria Koppensteiner died alone, but she is not forgotten.

ZGram -- June 21, 1997


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