Ellie

Weihnacht 1934 at the St Helier House Hotel

Weihnacht 1934 at the St Helier House Hotel

There’s a battered, creased photograph I found after Ellie died, taken in 1934, Christmas Eve at the St Helier House hotel. It seems to have been organised by the hotel management, to commemorate the occasion. There are perhaps thirty people in the picture, most of them women, many of them young, in a ballroom festooned with Christmas decorations. The top of a Christmas tree, covered in lights, is behind them. Mr Maurer, dressed up as Charlie Chaplin is seated in the centre at the front, with young women arranged on the floor on either side of him, others in chairs. More staff stand behind the chairs. To the left, kneeling and holding a menu, with an arm on the shoulder of one of the women, is Michael Bauer. On the right stands a rather chunky looking woman in lederhosen, with her hand on her hip. Behind this figure, her face half-hidden, stands a slim young woman with dark hair in a long dress. Every­one is smiling.

Interrogating Ellie

She had got to know Kurt Steinhauser when she had gone with Michael and Anna to his studio to have their photographs taken, shortly after their arrival.

Interrogating Ellie

1940: studio shot

1940: studio shot

1946 Klagenfurt

1946 Klagenfurt

Later that month she moved into a small house in town where she had the upper floor and share of a kitchen downstairs. It had belonged to a German family who had now been obliged to return to Hamburg. There were rabbits in hutches along the side of the garden wall and Ellie enjoyed clearing out their cages, feeding and stroking them, although she knew they were destined for the pot.

Interrogating Ellie

As she unfolded her tale to her interrogator he increasingly fell silent and she again became absorbed in her memories and the feelings they evoked. In spite of her distrust of the man, she had an overwhelming sensation of release as she reviewed her life.

Interrogating Ellie

Interrogation file

Interrogation file

Be Sociable, Share!