Channel Islanders imprisoned in Gotteszell Women’s Prison:
By Roderick Miller
Gotteszell Women’s Prison (Frauenstrafanstalt Gotteszell, Frauenkloster Gotteszell, Justizvollzugsanstalt Schwäbisch Gmünd) is just outside the city walls of the town of Schwäbisch Gmünd in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. It was originally a cloister, was converted to a prison in 1808 and made into a women’s prison in 1824. After the Nazi takeover in 1933, the first women’s concentration camp in Germany was located within the prison walls, with 60 to 80 women, many members of the German Communist Party, held as political prisoners by the Nazis for about a year.
At least two Channel Islanders were imprisoned in Gotteszell Women’s Prison. Emma Marshall arrived from Fresnes Prison in Paris on 11 January 1944 and was in Gotteszell until 14 March 1944. Evelina Garland arrived on 28 April 1944 and stayed an indeterminate time.
Both of the Channel Island women would go on to a series of camps and prisons before being liberated by the allies. Both survived the war, but like many would go on to suffer a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of their lives.
Gotteszell continues to operate as women’s prison under the name Justizvollzugsanstalt Schwäbisch Gmünd. The prison has space for 335 female prisoners and a section for women with children. There is a separate division of the prison in Laupheim that enables the prisoners to work in an agricultural capacity if they choose.
Carr, Gilly; Sanders, Paul; Willmot Louise: Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940-1945, Bloomsbury Academic, London & New York, 2014.
Kienle, Markus. Gotteszell – das frühe Konzentrationslager für Frauen in Württemberg: Die Schutzhaftabteilung im Frauengefängnis Gotteszell in Schwäbisch Gmünd März 1933 bis Januar 1934 (in German), Klemm und Oelschläger, 2002
Megargee, Geoffrey P. (editor): Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, Vol. 1 , Part A. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum , Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2009, pp. 83-84
The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO):
TNA FO 950/1162 (Garland)
TNA FO 950/1185 (Marshall)