Irma Grese was born on October 23, 1923. She had several nicknames. (The Beautiful Beast), (The Blonde Angel of Auschwitz) and (The Hyena of Auschwitz). She lost her mother at 13 and left school at the age of 15. Like many Germans she became infatuated by the oratory of Adolph Hitler. Irma joined a Nazi youth group and totally embraced their ideas. At the age of 19, in 1942, she was a supervisor at the SS training camp for female guards at Ravensbruck concentration camp. She rose to a senior supervisor in 1943 and was in control of up to 30,000 Polish and Hungarian Jewish women. Grese served at Auschwitz and by the end of the war she was at Bergen-Belsen. After Belsen was liberated the British placed her and other war criminals on trial. She was charged for the mistreatment and murder of prisoners. Prisoners testified that she wore heavy boots and took pleasure in beating prisoners to death with a rubber whip that she carried. Grese arbitrarily shot people in cold blood, and assisted the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele in selecting prisoners for the gas chambers, She also specialized in the mental torture of prisoners and would unleash half starved dogs to rip them apart. It was said that she owned lamp shades that were made from human skin but that has been discounted in recent years.
Even prisoners were struck by her beauty. One witness said "There was a beautiful woman called Grese who rode a bike. Thousands and thousands of people were standing there on their knees in scorching heat, and she took delight in watching us," Other witnesses from a camp named Munkács said "Greze used to be an actress, she was a gorgeous, pretty young woman." Olga Lengyel, a Jewish doctor, was told by Grese that when the war was over she wanted to be an actress. She gazed at her reflection in the mirror for hours, and she constantly made her seamstress sew new dresses. She had more than one lover, even with prisoners. When she became pregnant, she made another Hungarian prisoner, a former Jewish doctor, abort her baby. Grese was especially cruel toward beautiful women who were prisoners. When the war was over female guards were punished more frequently than men because they were remembered more often by the prisoners because female guards were fewer in number than men and they stood out more.. Cruelty was excused in men more so than women because it was considered out of character for them.
Grese was among 45 people accused of war crimes at Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz after the war. She along with ten other prisoners were sentenced to hang for crimes against humanity. Three women and eight men. She never expressed remorse. The night before she was hanged she laughed and sang Nazi songs with another SS torturer Elizabeth Volkenrath. On Thursday December 13, 1945 she was marched to the gallows. The following is an eyewitness account of her death "We climbed the stairs to the cells where the condemned were waiting. A German officer at the door leading to the corridor flung open the door and we filed past the row of faces and into the execution chamber. The officers stood at attention. Brigadier Paton-Walsh stood with his wristwatch raised. He gave me the signal, and a sigh of released breath was audible in the chamber, I walked into the corridor. 'Irma Grese', I called. The German guards quickly closed all grilles on twelve of the inspection holes and opened one door. Irma Grese stepped out. The cell was far too small for me to go inside, and I had to pinion her in the corridor. 'Follow me,' I said in English, and O'Neil repeated the order in German. At 9.34 a.m. she walked into the execution chamber, gazed for a moment at the officials standing round it, then walked on to the centre of the trap, where I had made a chalk mark. She stood on this mark very firmly, and as I placed the white cap over her head she said in her languid voice, 'Schnell'. [English translation: "Quickly." The drop crashed down, and the doctor followed me into the pit and pronounced her dead. After twenty minutes the body was taken down and placed in a coffin ready for burial".
|Number 9, Irma Grese on trial|
|The face of evil|
|Captured Female guards|
|Female guards being forced to remove the bodies of their victims|