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Carmen Maria Mory

8 July 2015

Carmen Maria Mory was a Swiss Gestapo double agent, who was convicted of heinous crimes, including 60 murders, in the Hamburg Trials. She was also part-Filipina.

Carmen was born to an English doctor Ernest Emil Mory and his Pinay patient, Leona Bischoff. Carmen earned the unflattering nickname of “The Black Angel of Ravensbrück”.  Books and movies have been created about her — such as “Carmen Mory: Hände weg von diesem Weib” which loosely translates to “Carmen Mory: Stay away from this woman”.

Carmen in British internment on 15 January 1946.

The Filipino Connection

Leona Bischoff, Carmen’s mother, was born in Bacolod and spent most of her early life as Leona Castro, an illegitimate daughter of her mother Felisa Castro and a rich Swiss businessman who had settled in Iloilo, Samuel Werthmuller Bischoff.  When Samuel recognized her as his child, Leona lived with Samuel and his barren wife Ana M. Ramirez; and changed her name from Castro to Bischoff.

Leona first married a Hong Kong-born British national Frederick von Kauffman with whom she had three children: Ernesto, Elena and Federico.  Some years later,  she became ill and the family decided to send her to Switzerland to recuperate; but a return to the Philippines never happened.

In Switzerland, Leona had an affair with her doctor and triggered a divorce from Frederick von Kauffman, which was finalized in Paris in 1905.  Leona and Ernest were married in London also in 1905.  The couple was blessed with three children: Leonita Elizabeth, Carmen Maria and Esther Renate.

Visit Carmen’s family tree here.

The Black Angel of Ravensbrück

At the age of 26 years, Carmen Maria Bischoff Mory left Switzerland and went to Berlin, in order to work as a journalist. She was impressed by the National Socialist ideology and became a Gestapo agent in 1934, for whom she spied on German emigrants in Paris. In 1938, she was arrested for espionage, was condemned to death and in 1940, pardoned by the French President. Back in Germany, she became active again for the Gestapo; but was accused of being a double agent and was sent to Nazi camp in Ravensbrück.  As a prisoner, she quickly rose through the hierarchy and became a cell-leader, who supervised cruel forced labor.

Carmen Mory was sentenced to death by hanging at the first Hamburg trials — she appears at the 0:59 mark in this German historical video — but she committed suicide in her cell by slashing her wrists before justice can be carried out.

Research Tip:  Court proceedings, especially estate disputes, are a wealth of genealogical data.  When huge fortunes are won and lost based on one’s ability to prove their ancestry, Philippine court certified data detailed in the General Roster of Advanced Decisions (GR’s) is a great resource.

Resources

  • “Carmen Mory.” Wikipedia (German). Wikipedia Foundation Inc, 8 July 2014. Web. 08 July 2015. <http://bit.ly/1NObOME&gt;.
  • “G.R. No. L-11796.” The LawPhil Project. Arellano Law Foundation, n.d. Web. 8 July 2015. <http://bit.ly/1NO28lz>.
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