Historian who claimed late Holocaust survivor had lesbian relationship with Nazi guard handed substantial fine by court

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A Warwick university historian has been fined by a German court after she claimed that a deceased Holocaust survivor had a lesbian relationship with a Nazi guard.

Dr Anna Hájková, an associate professor of modern continental European history at the University of Warwick, has been fined €4,000 for breaching an injunction by naming the two women, The Guardian reported.

In April, a regional court found that Hájková violated the dignity of the woman by claiming she had a sexual relationship with an SS guard while imprisoned in a Hamburg concentration camp.

The woman had died a decade ago, however Germany’s constitution protects a person’s reputation even after their death.

Hájková, who was researching queer history, was forbidden from using the survivor’s full name or photograph in the context of the relationship without her daughter’s permission. But the daughter sought legal action against the academic for five alleged breaches of the ruling, following a years-long scuffle between the two.

The Jewish Czech academic, also the descendent of a Holocaust survivor, was fined because material by the historian remained online despite it breaching the injunction, the daughter’s lawyer said.

Daughter of Holocaust survivor contests academic’s claims her mother was in a relationship with an SS guard. 

Hájková argued that testimonies from Holocaust survivors, as well as legal documents, suggested the two women were involved – she acknowledged, however, she had no proof of this.

She claimed that the guard fell in love with the prisoner and hoped for a future with her after the war was over, even following her after she was moved to two other concentration camps.

When the final camp, Bergen-Belsen, was liberated in 1945, the Nazi guard was arrested after trying to hide among the prisoners.

This paucity of evidence was stressed by a friend of the prisoner and fellow Holocaust survivor, Liese (not her real name), whose bunk bed was opposite her’s. She disputed Hájková’s claims, noting that while the guard did sit next to the woman, “there was no chance of undressing or anything like that”.

“The guard left before lights out,” she said, adding that their relationship was the subject of “titillating gossip” among guards and prisoners.

“The fact that Dr Hájková failed to interview one of the few living Holocaust survivors who witnessed the events she was researching was inexplicable,” the woman’s daughter said.

“I was very disappointed and angry that she didn’t conduct her research professionally and caused me so much pain and distress.”

The daughter first reached out to Hájková in 2014 and informed the researcher that her mother’s relationship with the guard was never sexual. She added that the pair had emotional feelings for one another.

She said: “Me and my sister both knew that she got special favours and that the guard liked her. But it wasn’t physical.

“She said specifically she was never sexually or physically abused.

“I think she got away with a lot because she was charming, beautiful and a bit cheeky.”