Russell Ryan Jr. was born August 23, 1923, the first child born to Russell Sr. and Grace Reinhart Ryan. Two brothers and a sister soon followed. They lived and were raised at 54-44 82 St. in Elmhurst. In 1958, at age 35, Russell Jr., a bachelor, took a vacation to Austria.
By October, he had met and married Hermine Braunsteiner, 39. She entered the United States by way of Canada in April 1959 and took the U.S. oath of citizenship in January 1963. They lived originally in his childhood Elmhurst home until they purchased a house at 52-11 72 St. in Maspeth in 1964.
Eventually it was revealed that Braunsteiner-Ryan was a German SS concentration camp guard at Ravensbruck and Majdanek.
In 1968, action was taken to revoke her citizenship and she was successfully denaturalized in 1971 for not revealing her war crimes on her application. Witnesses came forth and it was revealed that she was “The Mare of Majdanek,” notorious for her sadistic deeds against old women and children.
Residents of Maspeth were fooled by her friendly personality as they put up hundreds of posters throughout the neighborhood trying to save her from deportation.
But in 1973, Braunsteiner-Ryan became the first former Nazi to be extradited from the U.S. to Germany to face trial. She was sentenced to life in prison in April 1981. Her loving husband sold the Maspeth home and moved to Germany to be with her.
No children were born of the marriage. Braunsteiner-Ryan died in April 1999, a few months shy of her 80th birthday. Russell continued to live in Germany and passed away there in September 2002. Today their house is valued at a projected $794,000 by the city Department of Finance.