Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Discussions on the role played by and situation of women in the Third Reich not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Vikki.
WWII Germany were atheists
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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by WWII Germany were atheists » 15 Feb 2023 19:30

A off topic reply .by original poster was deleted. Stay on topic. If you have any other concern. Please start a new thread in proper subforum.

/Georg
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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by OscarE » 15 Feb 2023 20:23

German historian Jutta Mühlenberg covered the topic extensively in her 2011 book : "Das SS Helferinnenkorps", which was not translated. It gets as close as you can to the topic of the Solahütte girls. On page 332, the first names of the eleven Helferinnen known to be serving at Auschwitz at the time are listed, with the initial of their family name. In most cases, the family names can be deducted from other available documents (eight of them were recommended for the War Merit Cross : viewtopic.php?t=222949). At the end of the book, biographical information is given for several of them, including birth year, birth place, dates of service in Auschwitz, as well as previous occupation and/or aftermath when known.

Luzia Arndt, 1925 Schlesien, 03.08.1943 - 31.08.1944
Gisela Drews, 1923 Bernburg, 04.1944
Gerda Ernst, 1923 Schlesien, 17.04 1944
Lotte Gramattke, 1922 Schlesien, 02.08.1943 - 18.01.1945
Hildegard Ritzmann, 1925 Brandenburg, 25.04.1944
Hermine Schachtner, 1926 Bayern, 24.11.1943- 18.01.1945
Elfriede G, 1925 Eckernförde, 14.04.1944 - 26.10.1944

Ruth Astrosini, 1926 Würtemberg, 04.1944- 24.08.1944
Charlotte Schünzel
Therese Stieff
Thea S

Johanna Rauschka and Annemarie Langer are quoted by Mühlenberg but are not among them though, and Langer was actually demoted for theft in January 1944. Ruth Astrosini's face is known, as she later became an Aufseherin in Belsen, where she was arrested. Although part of the same team in July 1944, she doesn't appear on the Höcker album. At least four names are therefore missing, since 14 different women can be seen posing with Karl Höcker at Solahütte. The only way to identify each of them would be to have pictures linked to individual files. Mühlenberg may have had access to such info, but was not necessarily allowed to make them public, since last names were omitted from her book.

All SS Helferinnen were between age 18 and 22, and had worked at Auschwitz for at most a year, several had arrived in in April. Gramattke and Schachtner stayed at Auschwitz until the end. All were part of the SS as much as women could be, and had received the same training at Oberehenheim (now Obernai, France), where over 2 000 Helferinnen were trained. They had a dormitory for them inside the SS colony, where the rest of the staff lived, and where a few inmates would come for work at daytime. Unlike their fellow Aufseherinnen, they did not work inside the camp, but socialized extensively with those who did, as can be seen. They knew of course everything about the details and their work consisted precisely in reporting about them.

On page 339, Mühlenberg writes : The SS helpers – like the camp SS as a whole – approved of the consensus that the prisoners were not human beings but “subhumans” who had no right to life in the National Socialist state.218 Young women were also in active in the concentration and extermination camps and lived on site. They had "other interests,"219 and they didn't care about the endless suffering of other people. For the SS helpers, it seems to have been a "normal" job within the National Socialist state.

According to Rachel Century, Hermine Schachtner would become an Aufseherin and participated into a death march after evacuation of the camp. Both Schachtner and Schünzel married, and both were testimonies in the Frankfurt trials. Since all others were most probably searched for, they had either died or vanished under other identities, possibly abroad.

You can easily find Jutta Mühlenberg's book online, only in German. It is tiresome to Google translate every page, but if you are really interested, you may want to do that. There is extensive info about the profile, training and lifestyle of the Helferinnen. Many original documents are reproduced.

I would doubt that identifying and tracking down every Solahütte girl is feasible, but good luck!
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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by Mary Jane » 15 Feb 2023 23:49

OscarE wrote:
15 Feb 2023 20:23
...

Luzia Arndt, 1925 Schlesien, 03.08.1943 - 31.08.1944
Gisela Drews, 1923 Bernburg, 04.1944
Gerda Ernst, 1923 Schlesien, 17.04 1944
Lotte Gramattke, 1922 Schlesien, 02.08.1943 - 18.01.1945
Hildegard Ritzmann, 1925 Brandenburg, 25.04.1944
Hermine Schachtner, 1926 Bayern, 24.11.1943- 18.01.1945
Elfriede G, 1925 Eckernförde, 14.04.1944 - 26.10.1944

Ruth Astrosini, 1926 Würtemberg, 04.1944- 24.08.1944
...
Thank you, this is precious!
OscarE wrote:
15 Feb 2023 20:23
Johanna Rauschka and Annemarie Langer are quoted by Mühlenberg but are not among them though, and Langer was actually demoted for theft in January 1944.
I am confident that Johanna Rautschka and Annemarie Langer are in the album. Yes, I know about Langer's theft case [she apparently stole a handkerchief, but fervently denied it, though they found it in her desk's drawer], the case was closed, and she continued being a member of the team until she was released on July 31 1944.
OscarE wrote:
15 Feb 2023 20:23
The only way to identify each of them would be to have pictures linked to individual files.
Exactly. And that’s how it was possible to identify Johanna Rautschka and Annemarie Langer so far.
OscarE wrote:
15 Feb 2023 20:23
All SS Helferinnen were between age 18 and 22, and had worked at Auschwitz for at most a year, several had arrived in in April.
Some in the pictures were older than 22 indeed:

Charlotte Frieda Alma Schünzel Bartsch (8.7.1919)
Annemarie Langer (26.10. 1918)

There are other SS Helferinnen who are older than 22. Remember, the Auschwitz Memorial gave me a list of 25 names, some of which I successfully eliminated, while some yet await confirmation as to their presence in the Höcker album. First, their details and service dates need to match. And if yes, then their individual pictures need to match with those of the women in the album.
OscarE wrote:
15 Feb 2023 20:23
I would doubt that identifying and tracking down every Solahütte girl is feasible, but good luck!
We already have the names of every one of them... It’s just a matter of accessing their individual files (which include their photographs) and match them in the Höcker album… while the files are sitting somewhere in Maryland NARA and Berlin Bundesarchiv :)

I will do my best to access the book by Jutta Mühlenberg, it is an important source, thank you again!

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by j keenan » 16 Feb 2023 01:23

steve248 wrote:
15 Feb 2023 12:49
RSHA and WVHA records show they were not in the business of taking into account their employees dislike of a job. It was not take it or leave it, it was do this job or else.
I would like to see some sources to show it was do this or else ??

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by Georg_S » 16 Feb 2023 08:20

Several off topic posts have been deleted. Stay on topic

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by j keenan » 16 Feb 2023 10:28

Some Doc's with the above named in no photos though
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F 1.jpg
F 3.jpg
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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by Mary Jane » 16 Feb 2023 12:56

j keenan wrote:
16 Feb 2023 10:28
Some Doc's with the above named in no photos though
Yes, help please. What are these documents, what is the context?

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by steve248 » 16 Feb 2023 13:34

steve248 wrote: ↑Wed Feb 15, 2023 12:49 pm
RSHA and WVHA records show they were not in the business of taking into account their employees dislike of a job. It was not take it or leave it, it was do this job or else.

I would like to see some sources to show it was do this or else ??

Without going into the Dachkammer, the easiest one is Willi Seibert who testified at his trial that his first request to transfer from RSHA III to the Army was refused, and so was his second. Then Heydrich told him there was no transfers available when a war was on.

Secondly, Streckenbach, RSHA I Amtschef and Personalchef responsible for all postings of Sipo and SD officials (not just officers) has also said once officials were made u.k.gestellt for the Sipo/SD there was no transfer to active service.

WVHA had the same policy though medical officers usually came from the Waffen-SS to the camps.

SS-Helferinnen were all in the same boat. The were in a service structure and posted to a position, not recruited per se to a position. In the case of the teleprinter operator she was probably trained by WVHA as a teleprinter operator having been conscripted from a civilian job.

You join the military or a quasi-military organization there are no ifs and buts about where you are posted.

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by steve248 » 16 Feb 2023 13:37

Well my post above did not come out to good - you can see where I start in the paragraph mentioning the Dachkammer.

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by Mary Jane » 16 Feb 2023 14:32

j keenan wrote:
16 Feb 2023 01:23
steve248 wrote:
15 Feb 2023 12:49
RSHA and WVHA records show they were not in the business of taking into account their employees dislike of a job. It was not take it or leave it, it was do this job or else.
I would like to see some sources to show it was do this or else ??
steve248 wrote:
16 Feb 2023 13:34

Without going into the Dachkammer, the easiest one is Willi Seibert who testified at his trial that his first request to transfer from RSHA III to the Army was refused, and so was his second. Then Heydrich told him there was no transfers available when a war was on.

Secondly, Streckenbach, RSHA I Amtschef and Personalchef responsible for all postings of Sipo and SD officials (not just officers) has also said once officials were made u.k.gestellt for the Sipo/SD there was no transfer to active service.

WVHA had the same policy though medical officers usually came from the Waffen-SS to the camps.

SS-Helferinnen were all in the same boat. The were in a service structure and posted to a position, not recruited per se to a position. In the case of the teleprinter operator she was probably trained by WVHA as a teleprinter operator having been conscripted from a civilian job.

You join the military or a quasi-military organization there are no ifs and buts about where you are posted.
In response to the question, I would also like to add: Hitler made service (i.e. work) compulsory for all the unmarried women who were deemed "fit". This did not necessarily involve working at a camp, and here, we talk about Auschwitz:

Take Anne-Marie Langer's case: She wanted to resign more than once, for personal reasons, namely because her father was sick, she was unmarried, and she wanted to look after him. But her applications got rejected. Plus, she had a history of theft (the handkerchief case) and fraud (providing a false statement about her earnings). She was not well-liked or popular. Despite so, she was only released in late July 1944. She appears in the Höcker album.

See pages 29-31 below:

https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/ ... ext=theses

They needed work force at Auschwitz at the time. Ruth Astrosini (see the above source for more about her), originally an Aufseherin (a guard), despite barely meeting the standards, began working as a telephone operator (a Nachrichtenhelferin, communication assistant). She was unable to pass the test to work as a telegram operator. She doesn't appear in the Höcker album.

Even if a staff member was at fault like AnneMarie Langer, getting fired was hard. They would rather transfer them. "I am done with this job and I am leaving (for whatever reason)" did not elicit a response like "ok, bye", but rather with a "you are going there and doing this then". And the same happened with Rosemarie Katzmann, an Auschwitz nachrichtenhelferin who is not in the album. She was transferred as punishment from Auschwitz for breaking the rules such as for forwarding a letter to one of the inmates and other reasons which you can read about below.

See page 56:
http://www.yu.edu/sites/default/files/l ... 281%29.pdf

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by OscarE » 16 Feb 2023 14:37

Kudos, Mary Jane, you have had access to remote info. I hadn't seen Charlotte Schünzel's birthdate appear anywhere.

On page 454, according to research by J.M, Johanna Rautschka only took service in Auschwitz after 15th of August, after serving previously in a branch of the Reichschule, at a castle called Leonahrdsau. As for Anne Marie Langer, there is a long biography about her, but she is said to have been sent back from Auschwitz to the Reichschule before release from the SS Helferinnenkorps on July 31st. No date is given, but the Solahütte pictures were taken the week before, which would seem a bit short.

Here is the translation of the paragraph on page 332 mentioning the names : In the photo album »Auschwitz through the Lens of the SS: Photos of Nazi Leadership at the Camp«.190 eleven, possibly twelve, SS helpers can be seen on 15 pictures.191 Based on the deployment times, which can be found in the personal files of the SS helpers, eleven SS helpers known by their names were working in the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp at that time: Ruth A., Luzia A., Gisela D., Gerda E., Lotte G., Elfriede J., Hildegard R., Hermine S., Thea S. , C.S. and Therese S.

Which means that J.M has had access to personal files, but hasn't mentioned identifying any of them by their pictures. There might be reasons of confidentiality involved, as only initials are given for the last names, and Charlotte Schünzel is only referred to as C.S.

The footnote 191 points out that not all women have the visible SS runes on their jacket. There are 11 posing in uniform with the SS runes.
17b34e80ebc25_sola_3.jpg
A picture from the same series distinctly shown a 12th woman in the forefront, who doesn't seem to have the SS runes on her jacket.
Captura-de-pantalla-2018-04-09-a-las-18.27.24.png
In the blueberry series where they are sitting, two extra women can be seen.
785743.jpg
N° 13 can also be seen in the background on one of the photos where they are standing, but her uniform is not visible. Two sitting right after Höcker and n°6 are difficult to identify with certainty, possibly n°2 (or Ruth Astrosini?), and then either n° 9 or 12.

Sitting on the bus next to Höcker is n°3, in front of them n°2 and 6, behind them n°13. They can also be seen standing outside the bus with n°1, 8,9 and 10 clearly visible. So these are at least 14 women, 11 of whom were SS Helferinnen with certainty. Others may have been Nachrichtenhelferinnen or ordinary secretaries. Ruth Astrosini, although listed by J.M, is definitely not among the SS Helferinnen posing in uniform, as her face is known from a photo taken after her arrest in Belsen in April 1945.
images.jpg
The women had known Karl Höcker for only two months, as he had arrived at Auschwitz from Majdanek in May. They worked under the orders of Hoss, Baer and Mengele who all appear on the Höcker album. Which means they reported about arrivals, selections, gassings, disposal of stolen property and results of medical experiments, always using a specific terminology.
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Mary Jane
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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by Mary Jane » 16 Feb 2023 15:13

@Oscar, wow, thank you.

Please read below Johanna Rautschka's details I could find:

https://www.gedenkstaette-flossenbuerg. ... -personnel

I am not saying that Jutta Mühlenberg is wrong, I am saying that a picture doesn't lie.

The same goes for Anne-Marie Langer... whose details do not offer any contradictory evidence to eliminate her from the Höcker album.


Edited for clarity: If there are two or more contradictory sources or research about the details (namely the service dates of these women in Auschwitz), the women’s individual pictures will define which information is right, i.e. the fact; or how the pieces of information fit together in the right way (as the truth) by not necessarily eliminating each other.

I also know that it will probably not stay there… Related experts in science will also compare the physical features of these women, (albeit I have done this by spending hours comparing the physical features of them from every imaginable angle), using relevant softwares or programs if need be, even if it’s plainly obvious it’s them. This is how we establish facts. Everything I share here is open to further confirmation by the experts.

I will not share any finding I am not sure of.

If I happen to make a mistake, like everybody else can, I am open to correct it. But I don’t think that that mistake is a plain photograph which sufficiently speaks for itself even at the first glance, all the while when my research confirms a person's details.

I let the jury of related scientific experts and the audience decide... until the day we establish the identity of all these women in the Höcker album as the fact; just like we don’t question Karl Höcker’s and others’ presence there.

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by Mary Jane » 16 Feb 2023 20:12

Wait a second, wow, Ruth Astrosini is there!

Image

Not in the group pictures, in the bus, here:

Image


I was so concentrated on identifying the ladies in the group pictures, and when I couldn't spot Ruth there, I assumed she was not in the album. But she appears in the above picture.

She jumped at me... while I was blankly looking at the Google image search results showing the whole set of Höcker album pictures expecting nothing, I immediately recognized her.

Ruth Astrosini is so far the number 3 who is identified and matched in the Höcker album, here.

I am going to update this post with her details later.

*
Ruth Astrosini/Astrosene, Birth: 07.04.1926, Würtemberg
Service dates at Auschwitz: 04.1944- 24.08.1944

"Was present at Auschwitz.

Arrested at Bergen - Belsen 16 April 1945 and remained in Celle prison until June 1945.

Position in Bergen-Belsen: Phone operator

Interned in Fallingbostel and Padeborn Internment Camps.

Handed over to the Poles 12 December 1946.

Sentenced at an Auschwitz trial in Krakau 11 March 1948 to 72 months imprisonment for ill treatment of civilians.

Imprisoned in Krakau, Graudenz and Warsaw.

Released 01 June 1953."

Source: http://www.bergenbelsen.co.uk/pages/Sta ... StaffID=94

What happened after her release is not known...

More of her details later...

*

Picture credit: Mugshots of Ruth Astrosini, Auschwitz Memorial Museum, thank you.

*

"Astrosini was born in 1926 in Weilheim an der Teck, a small village in Baden-Württemberg. Her family was rather typical. Her father worked as a civil engineer and her mother was a homemaker. This career choice therefore made sense as the couple had six children, four of them male and two female. The order of birth is unknown. They were evangelical, usual for an SS Helper, of which 54% shared this belief (Mühlenberg 154)... Her father was not a member of the party, but her brother has been a member of the SS.

Astrosini applied to the SS Assistant School on April 12, 1943. 1.60 m tall, she barely met the physical conditions. She had been a member of the BDM since 1939, but a letter from the Stuttgart Security Service noted that she was 'not particularly denominational' (NARA). The most important
flaw in her application was that she had a brother in an institution. ... According to Himmler's original rules, Astrosini would have defiled the racial community. This also cast doubt on her brother's SS membership, but he volunteered early on in the SS. Luckily for Astrosini, there were in the standards of the SS-auxiliary corps, as well in those of the SS, a certain -- probably also necessary -- leeway. There was at that time (and until the end of the war) namely, 'a dearth of applications', and the needs of the war was high. Himmler's female ideal had to adapt to what was feasible and 'the characteristics of an elite that Himmler wanted to give it were no more than a memory' (Henry 134). The last sentence of her application was enough for her reviewers: 'My dearest wish is now to be hired as an SS news maid.' In fact, she was immediately hired as an SS assistant.

After her training at the Reichsschule, Astrosini had an apparently successful career. Despite her poor grades, her first post-school assignment was on February 15th 1944 at the SS main office in Berlin, a coveted position. On March 31, she switched to the supplementary office Southwest. Shortly thereafter she was transferred to Auschwitz. An assessment from her first days in Auschwitz states that she 'makes an effort' and is 'hardworking and willing' (NARA). However, it was also observed that she was 'somewhat ponderous, withdrawn, and quiet', undesired qualities according to the Nazi ideals pertaining to women at the time. Despite her performance was low for the role, she served as a telephone operator in Auschwitz until August 24, 1944."

Source: https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/ ... ext=theses

As far as I understand, she has been transferred to Bergen Belsen precisely because of her low performance as a telephone operator at Auschwitz. It is interesting that she is listed as a "telephone operator" in Bergen Belsen as well, despite she worked there as an Aufseherin (guard). She was either serving a dual role or later was demoted to being a guard. There is a distinction between the role and tasks of communication assistants and the guards.The female guards were coming from a different background and were frequently looked down upon. In contrast to the SS Nachricthenhelferinnen, the Aufseherinnen was seen and even treated as second class, not womenly, lady-like or feminine enough, reflecting the Nazi ideology of the time pertaining to women; while the communication assistants we see in the Höcker album were treated by the SS officers as better women or dainty little flowers who would make ideal wives. The case is marriages were encouraged between them and the SS men, just as Charlotte Schünzel married Helmut Bartsch.

So far, I think everything put together explains how and why Ruth Astrosini was considered "below the standard" in multiple respects (from her skills to her looks) and hence is not included in the group pictures in the Höcker album, despite she was a member of the communications team at Auschwitz.



*

I believe it is possible to know what happened to these women in later life via accessing their Bundesarchiv personal files, since marriages and deaths are definitely recorded.

*

Where is Ruth Astrosini's Auschwitz trial statement?

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by Mary Jane » 17 Feb 2023 02:18

About 8 years ago, when I first saw the Höcker album pictures, the Blueberries in particular, I was enraged.

“How could this be”, I thought. “Two steps away from them, people are being sent to their deaths, and they are laughing!”

“They are plain simple evil, no need to think about it any further…”

So back in time, it was their innate nature to me.

Today, I think the right question to ask is: What makes plain simple people to do evil things?...

When I began to look at it like that, I was finally able to comfortably study the Nazi Germany, without getting into an angry burst. It was really interrupting with my work, and I am glad that today, my understanding has evolved in a way I can keep my calm, in most cases that is…

As the biographical details and pictures of these women surface, I get an impression and form an opinion of them, including as to how they did what they did... Here, it is useful for us to remember that a formed opinion or someone’s view is distinct from the historical facts or hard evidence.

Ruth Astrosini for example, since the beginning of her life, was desperate for inclusion and being a part of a group. This is already how Nazism found many supporters… Be these women a perpetrator, an accomplice, or an enabler (in I think the biggest organized crime committed against humanity since the start of our civilization), they were parts and pawns of a system that which they were a product of… And if we don’t understand the system which made them, we cannot understand their personal motivations and hence their behaviour either...

Perpetrators themselves sometimes begin as victims of others and circumstances bigger than them, as in Ruth’s case, who doesn’t look mentally stable like many of the female guards, who took their personal frustrations out on others, i.e. inmates, in the form of mistreatment or violence. This does not justify their behavior. It only helps us understand it. And we cannot prevent something we don’t understand from re-occurring… There you have my motivation in ever studying the Nazi Germany and taking an interest in this particular subject right now.

For the same reason, I do not subscribe to the view that perpetrators should be left alone or forgotten… Just because some people will glorify them, when we reveal the identities of these women or others, we cannot say “let history be buried in dust”, deeming the subject unimportant. Neither can we operate out of the fear of what people may do with historical facts or data.

Just like Rachel Century states in her book the Female Administrators of the Third Reich, many of these women paid a price after the war, in one way or the other. Some committed suicide, some couldn’t find work because of their Nazi past, some got imprisoned and held in concentration camps, while some seemingly smoothly went on with their lives…

I understand how this subject arouses strong feelings in different people for different reasons. It begs us to question what life is and what justice is and how it should be served… It brings up many why questions...

Just why?...

And the answer to that, if we happen to have any, will necessarily be a personal one.


*I only felt the need to say this since I know that some people here have been curious about my personal stance on this matter.

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Re: Who were the SS Helferinnen shown in the famous Hoecker album?

Post by Mary Jane » 17 Feb 2023 12:16

OscarE wrote:
16 Feb 2023 14:37

Image

Image
Oscar, your photo comparison which establishes number 4 as number 4, compared against mine which previously identified her as Anne-Marie Langer, reveals that I was wrong.

Correction: Number 4 here is not Anne-Marie Langer.

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