NYT takes note of the unnoticed death 6 years ago of a vicious female Nazi death camp guard

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Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan was a Queens homemaker in 1964 when The New York Times revealed her notorious past as a vicious Nazi death camp guard.

Nearly a decade later, she became the first United States citizen to be extradited for war crimes. She was sent to West Germany, where she was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

That was in 1981, and little has been written about her since, although a German newspaper took note of her release, for health reasons, in 1996.

It turns out that she died three years later, on April 19, 1999, at the age of 79.

Her death appears to have gone unrecorded by American newspapers and magazines, although it is noted on the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia and in a footnote in a 2005 memoir, "Omaha Blues," by Joseph Lelyveld, a former executive editor of The Times, who recounts his experience as the young reporter who knocked on the door of the Ryan home more than 40 years ago.

Official word of Mrs. Ryan's death came in recent weeks from the Simon Wiesenthal Center's office in Israel, in response to questions by another Times reporter who was researching an article on the former Maidanek death camp in Poland, where Mrs. Ryan was once assigned.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israeli center, said he believed the death had been noted in some German papers. He said he did not know the cause, but in 1996, when the German government pardoned her from her life sentence, she suffered from diabetes and had had a leg amputated.

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