Author's Words on Ruth Stössl29.11.2014 08:35
Who is Ruth Stössl?
Ruth Stössl is the Kapo of the Kanada section and guides Franz to perform good deeds. She is not Jewish although her name suggests this to be the case. She grew up in Darmstadt but soon after moved to Berlin where she witnesses the rise of the Nazis. She is homosexual and makes her living as a prostitute. She is sent to Sachsenhausen camp but volunteers for Auschwitz after bullying from her then Kapo. In Auschwitz, she is sly and calculating and uses her prostitute skills to earn her place as Kapo by seducing the guard Willi Kubisch. When Franz arrives, she manipulates him into the right direction and the two set up an illegal infirmary in the Canada section known as 'The Shelf'. She stage-manages the song of Elena that so profoundly effects Franz. In the process, she is also seduced by Elena's mystical power. Eventually the Gestapo call her in for questioning, when trying to frame Franz. In the process, she exposes corruption within the Canada camp causing major changes to camp management and the firing of Commander Höss. Her reward is that she is tricked into the gas chambers.
She tells her story while waiting for a shower which turns out to be her gassing. We see that despite her calculating manner, Ruth is at heart a good person who instigates the reform of inmate conditions at the camp.
What was the significance of Ruth?
Ruth is both capable of corruption and of great compassion. It is her that looks after the Fleckfieber patients when the other inmates back off. Her manipulation of the relationship between Mihael and Elena is heartless as is her deposing of her former Kapo. Again, it is important to remember that Auschwitz was about many different minorities. Homosexuals were treated with an equal severity to the Jews but little is said about this in history.
How would you describe her relationship with Franz?
Ruth understands men very well, even if she has a cynical view of their natures. She manipulates him, but in doing so she guides him to good, like a mother figure.
How true are the scenes of homosexual excess of the SA?
Ernst Röhm is mentioned in the book. Ruth encounters him in the homosexual clubs of Berlin. In 1931, the Münchener Post, a Social Democratic newspaper, obtained and published Röhm's letters to a friend discussing his homosexual affairs. Hitler eventually eliminated Röhm and the SA, substituting them with the SS organization. One of the reasons given was his homosexuality. For more click here.
What is Ruth's religious significance?
We learn that Ruth is not her real name but rather she is called Sara Raquel. Raguel is the Archangel of justice and fairness. On the other hand she could also be the Archangel Saraguel who is a fallen angel who lusted after the daughters of men. Unlike Mihael, we never know whether she is a good or fallen angel.
What inspired the character Ruth Stössl?
Ruth is inspired by the real Canada Kapo, Rita Stössl who held her position until the Canada corruption trial. She was questioned by Boger as was Helena Citronova.