“CAMARADERIE WAS THE GREATEST THING FOR ME. IT WAS ONLY THROUGH CAMARADERIE THAT WE WERE ABLE TO SURVIVE, AND WE WANT TO KEEP THIS CAMARADERIE AS LONG AS WE ARE ALIVE!“
Erna was born in 1898 in Berlin as Erna Voley. She trained as a seamstress and married when she was seventeen. A year later, her daughter Ingrid was born. She was not politically active and, out of solidarity and compassion, helped Jewish friends.
During her second death march in April 1945, she and four other friends were able to escape into a forest. From there they headed for Vienna, most of the time walking on foot. For short parts of the journey they were able to go by train or horse-drawn carriage.
Following her divorce in 1935, Erna Lugebiel lived as a single parent, and was later conscripted to the Wehrmacht as a telephone operator. In the early 1940s she came in contact with the “Kampfbund”, the Communist resistance group, and supported persecuted people with money and provided them with accommodation. Her arrest in July 1943 was followed by one year in pre-trial detention in Berlin. Her trial ended with an acquittal. Nevertheless, she was transported to Ravensbrück in November 1944. There she came into contact with captured members of the German Communist Party, as well as Katharina Jakob and Martha Paucka. The help that she was given by them and other prisoners was one of her most important memories from Ravensbrück. In the 1980s, there was a growing interest in the history of Nazism in West Germany and in the people who opposed it. Erna Lugebiel was asked about her life and her thoughts about Nazism and the resistance in interviews, books, an exhibition and also in one television interview. In 1983, a collection of memoirs was published, including those of Erna Lugebiel under the title “Camaraderie was the greatest thing for me”.
In 1981, she took part in a historical and political initiative started by Gertrud Müller and the Ravensbrück Camp Association in West Germany. Contact with other Ravensbrück survivors was very important to Erna Lugebiel throughout her life. Her signature can also be found on a postcard from one meeting to commemorate their liberation. The meeting took place on 30 April 1959 in East Berlin. Next to her name are also the names of Emmi Handke, Rosa Thälmann, Maria Wiedmaier, Trude Neuhof from West Berlin and her daughter Ingrid Rabe, as well as her granddaughter.
Erna Lugebiel’s granddaughter