Irma Grese Biography

(Nazi Concentration Camp Guard at Ravensbrück & Auschwitz Who Served as Warden of Bergen-Belsen)

Birthday: October 7, 1923 (Libra)

Born In: Feldberger Seenlandschaft, Germany

Irma Grese was a German Nazi concentration camp guard during the Second World War as part of SS. She became notorious for torturing the concentration camp prisoners, and got the nickname ‘the Hyena of Auschwitz’. Once the war was over, she was tried for the crimes she committed against humanity. Born in Wrechen, she faced troublesome relationship with her parents, as they had a very unhappy marriage. What scarred Irma more than anything was the fact that her mother committed suicide by drinking acid due to extra marital affairs of her husband. For a 13 year old Irma, this event was troublesome and scarred her for an entire lifetime. Her resonance with Nazi party started young and she unofficially joined it at the age of 14, after dropping out of school and by the age of 19, she became a prison guard at a concentration camp in Ravensbruck, and later she got promoted as the warden at Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz and was given the duty of choosing the prisoners to kill. She remains a notorious figure for her taste of enjoying the tortures and killing of prisoners in the most brutal ways possible and abusing them sexually.
Quick Facts

German Celebrities Born In October

Also Known As: Irma Ida Ilse Grese, The Beautiful Beast

Died At Age: 22


father: Alfred Grese

mother: Berta Grese

siblings: Helene Grese

War Criminals German Women

Died on: December 13, 1945

place of death: Hamelin, Germany

Childhood & Early Life
Irma Grese was born on 7th October 1923 at Wrechen, Germany, to Alfred and Bertha Grese in a normal agricultural family. The family seemed peaceful on the outside, but it was anything but a ‘normal’ family. Her parents kept fighting, hitting each other, and hurled expletives. As a result of this all five of the children were in constant fear. In 1936, Irma’s mother found out her husband’s affair with a local girl, and she killed herself by drinking Hydrochloric acid.
Her death was traumatizing for the children, but the father seemed unaffected and went ahead with his affair, eventually marrying the girl a few years later. Irma and her siblings tried to lead a normal life, and she had her early schooling from her hometown and a memoir of her sister, Helene, states that Irma was sort of a coward in school. She would always run away from the fights, and she was as far from violence in school as any girl of her age could be.
She was poor in academics and was constantly bullied by her classmates. As a result of her poor academics, she dropped out of the school at the age of 14, and joined the League of German Girls, a Nazi party wing for teenage girls. Although her father himself was a member of the Nazi party, he disapproved strongly of her daughter being a part of the cruel Nazi organization. She quit after a few months of working with them and went on to do several odd jobs at a farm, a shop and finally at a hospital as a trainee nurse for the SS.
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Concentration Camps
Her extreme admiration for Hitler and the Nazi party and their beliefs in general kept her close to them, despite her father’s strong disapproval. By the time she was 18 years old, she was already working in an all female concentration camp after her move to SS Female Helpers’ Training Camp, located at Ravensbruck. This was around July 1942, when the anti-Jewish activities were at their brutal best. After her training, she turned out to be the perfect choice for a guard position at Ravensbruck due to her passion for the Nazi cause and her brutality mixed up with childishness.
In March 1943, she was transferred to the more brutal and bigger concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where her sadist instincts rose to their fullest and by mid 1944; she had become the Rapportfuhrerin, which meant she was answerable to only one superior above her. In this job, she was indulged in choosing the victims to be killed in the gas chambers. She became a feared entity among the prisoners and her tortures and the ways to induce fear in the hearts of the prisoners have been documented several times as ‘pure unabashed evil’.
It was during this period of time that she gained notoriety as a nymphomaniac and a sadist. She would indulge the chosen prisoners forcefully in sexual encounters with her and had sexual relationships with many of the SS guards as well. One of the inmates at that time, Giselle Perl, stated in his memoirs that she was a horrible woman and would whip the young girls on their semi-developed breasts and would get sexually aroused by seeing that. Later she would make the young girls watch as she would rape the other prison inmates. This gave her happiness, as exhibited by the expression of satisfaction on her face.
She became the most feared guard in the camp and she would beat the inmates bare handed, hurled dirtiest abuses at them, made them hold a heavy stone over their head for long stretches and when she was more angry, she would set her dogs on the inmates. She became a symbol of horror, and the inmates considered it a very lucky day if they only received beating from her whip, which she reportedly carried with her all the time.
One prisoner, Olga Lengyel, wrote in her memoir about the extreme hatred she had toward Irma. She wrote that Irma would choose the weak and the sick ones among the prisoners to be the ones to kill on any particular day. Her sexual adventures got her pregnant many times and she gradually became jealous of ‘beautiful’ prisoners and wreaked havoc on them. She was extremely in awe of her physical beauty and once the war was over, she planned a career in films as an actress.
Trial & Execution
When the war was over, Irma was captured by the British troops and at the Belsen trials in second half of 1945. She was tried based on the laws regarding treatment of prisoners and was found guilty of many charges. She was held accountable for severely inhumane treatment of the prisoners and several murders she committed while working as a guard at the concentration camps.
All the brutish acts she committed were explained by the survivors of the camps in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. They also gave testimonies about how Irma killed the female prisoners in cold blood by shooting them in their heads. And she would wear heavy boots to trample them to death. They pointed out that even though there were several other guards who showed at least a little level of humanity towards them, Irma was the ultimate sadist and didn’t show any traces of humanity, she was almost like an evil personified.
A total of 16 female guards were charged of the same crimes and Irma was one of the most notorious. Although, charges were quite serious on the other guards as well, but Irma was only one of the three guards who were chosen to be given the death sentence. The trial ran for 53 days and the basis of her punishment was the fact that SS didn’t direct female guards to be brutal to the prisoners, they were said to be handled ‘strictly’ and most of the crimes Irma committed, were just for her personal enjoyment and this meant that she was an ultimate sadist, and must be made an example of by giving a death penalty.
Irma Grese was to be hanged with other two guards, Johanna Bormann and Elisabeth Volkenrath, and as the final verdict was being read, Irma was the only one who stayed defiant of the sentence, although her appeals were rejected. Somehow, the day of execution came on 13th December 1945, and it was said by the executioner that the last word she spoke while standing on the centre of the trap in the execution chamber was ‘Schnell’, which is a German word for ‘Quickly’.

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