Falsely accused of spying, deported to Auschwitz and used for medical experiments. What did she trade for food in the camp?

Elsie Ragusin

Born 1921 in New York, USA with Italian roots. Elsie and her father went to Northern Italy in 1939 to visit her ageing grandparents. One day they were taken away by the occupying German forces. Elsie and her father were falsely accused of spying and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in a boxcar. Elsies father died in Auschwitz. Like many other prisoners Elsie was exposed to medical experiments. As a strong Christian believer she was offering another prisoner to give some of her food in exchange for a Bible. Elsie was moved to Ravensbrück and from there rescued by the White Buses mission, which arrived in Malmö, Sweden, on April 28, 1945. She stayed at the Malmö Museum and was then taken care of by a Swedish-American family living outside Malmö. She stayed with them for nine months before being re-united with her family in USA. Today Elsie lives in Orlando, Florida.

Tags: Disguise; Medical experiments; Child; Hunger.

If you would like to add information to Elsie Ragusin’s story we will be very happy to hear from you. Please write an email to our researcher Sebastian.

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If you can help us with further information about Elsie Ragusin we will be very happy to hear from you. Please write an email to our researcher Sebastian.


Elsie (right) in Malmö harbour on April 28, 1945. With survivors Nadine Hwang (middle), Rosetta Achmed (left) and Mary O’Shaugnessy (back).


Elsie in the medical tent after the arrival in Malmö.


Elsie with other survivors on the rooftop of Malmö museum, 1945.


Elsie Ragusin


Elsie came with the afternoon feryy to Malmö on April 28, 1945.