Irma Grese: The So-Called Beautiful Beast of Auschwitz | Horrific History & True Crime Series With Caledonian Kitty

(Irma Grese. Picture Credit: wikipedia)

I've decided to do something a little different on my blog and that is to publish a series of posts looking back into history with the true crime connection and where better to start than the unimaginable horror that was the Nazi regime and the holocaust. 

My series will be called 'Horrific History & True Crime', I have been planning these posts for quite some time and have stacks of books that I have been getting through in my research. I hope that you will find this series interesting and as always I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or elsewhere on my social media

It's quite strange to see the number of WW2 books that I have ordered all stacked up in a huge pile next to my true crime bookcase but it's all for my research. I hope to bring you information that you may not have seen before or heard about in the documentaries. After this series I will be writing a serial killer article so I have a lot of interesting content coming up so I hope you will join me for that too. 

So let's make a start and I wanted to talk about an aspect of the Nazi regime that isn't spoken about as much as it should be and that is the role in which the female SS officers played in the concentration camps. As those of us who study true crime cases know, sometimes women can be just as evil as men and in some cases even worse. 

We hear a lot of the roles in which the male SS guards and commandants played but only a little bit of the crimes of female Nazi criminals such as Irma Grese and Johanna Langefeld and I hope to talk a little bit more about this in my post. 

Before I begin, obviously I am talking about a very sensitive subject and I'm doing so for history and educational purposes and as always I aim to be as sensitive and as respectful as I can be when sharing certain details but still stating the facts of what took place. Some of the details will be disturbing so please keep that in mind before continuing to read on. 

I'm going to talk about Irma Grese in this post, the so-called 'Beautiful Beast of Auschwitz' which was amongst her many nicknames, others popularly referred to her as the 'Hyena of Auschwitz' because of her sadistic laugh. Irma was the youngest Nazi criminal to be hanged for her crimes in 1945 at the tender age of just 22 but who exactly was she and what role did she play in one of the most horrific mass murders of all time? 

Irma came into the world on the 7th of October 1923 and there was trouble from the very beginning. Her parents were hardworking farmers and her father was a devout Christian who wasn't afraid to raise his hand to his children to keep them in line. Irma had two brothers and two sisters and although her father liked to paint himself as a holy man, he didn't seem to take his marriage vows very seriously. He badly neglected his wife and the household at times was a very negative place to be. Not surprisingly with the troubles at home, Irma struggled academically, not being able to focus. She experienced some bullying from other children especially other girls because of her academic short comings and when approached by bullies she had a tendency to run away and hide rather than stand up and deal with the problem. At this stage in her life, Irma was afraid of confrontation and seemed to cut quite a timid, quiet and powerless individual. 

More turmoil was to come when it was revealed that her father had been having an affair with a younger woman. Not only did the affair rock the family to it's core but Irma's mother was utterly devastated and committed suicide by drinking Hydrochloric Acid 

Death by drinking Hydrochloric Acid is a very horrific and painful way to die and her mother must have suffered terribly. A tragic end to a very unhappy life with a cold and distant husband became all too much and she saw no other way out. To add insult to injury, Irma's father continued the affair with this younger woman and married her. Not surprisingly, Irma's relationship with her father became very strained and a rebellious attitude soon began to emerge within Irma. 

Having to deal with the bullies, the difficulties at home with a strict father and losing her mother at a young age, Irma began to turn from the timid, quiet young girl to one who was angry, resentful and cold. She was dealing with trauma and abandonment issues and was looking for somewhere desperately to belong, somewhere she could be in complete control. Unable to cope with the bullies and academic struggles at school, she dropped out at the age of 15 and decided to concentrate on finding a job. 

At first it looked as if things were going to take a positive turn as she had partaken in farm work and then worked in a shop with her heart set on becoming a nurse. The nursing career didn't work out and Irma became obsessed with joining the SS. Irma and her siblings had already been exposed to Nazi propaganda in school but her father forbade discussion about it in the home, he was heavily against it. One wonders if this was part of the reason for Irma's Nazi obsession, a chance to get back at her father? She took a job as an assistant nurse in the SS sanatorium against her father's wishes. She wanted to join The League of German Girls along with her sister but her father was against that. The relationship between father and daughter continued to struggle and when the Nazis were advertising for young single women between the ages of 20 to 40 to work at what they were originally calling 'work camps' for POWs (The women were promised a good wage, benefits, uniforms and a comfortable place to stay), Irma put herself up for the role. 

Before she began working as a fully fledged guard she had to undergo vigorous training and health checks. The training was said to have involved the dehumanization of the trainee guards. Irma made a mistake on the first few days of her training as she had accidentally stepped on a prisoner and apologised. This was frowned upon because the guards were being trained to be cold. There was set rules that were publicly advertised about treating the prisoners with respect, no unlawful killing or abuse but of course this was all for face value. The guards were actually encouraged to abuse the prisoners and basically work them (or beat them) to death. 

Irma began to excel in the training at a base near Ravensbruck (an all female concentration camp) before being moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau as a fully fledged guard and then on to Ravensbruck where she had been promoted to the second highest ranking of guard position. 

(Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Picture credit: bbc)

Irma returned home to visit her father on one occasion and purposefully wore her SS uniform knowing how much it would antagonize him. The visit was very hostile, depending on accounts, Irma was allegedly beaten by her father for wearing the uniform. Whatever took place that day an argument ensued, Irma was told by her father never to return to the family home again. 

From 1942 to 1945 and barely into her 20s, Irma Grese was becoming more and more of a monster in her role at the camps. The more sadistic and evil she was, the more she seemed to get the approval of her peers and the benefits and promotions that came with it. Although biologically she was young, it was like she had been living the life of an evil, sadistic torturer for decades. Gone was the quiet, timid young girl who was frightened of confrontation and instead was this cold hearted creature that I cannot find the words for. 

Irma loved her role as a guard, she enjoyed the power and would get off on it. She is often described in books and documentaries as a beautiful, blonde woman with blue eyes. I don't see that, I just see a frumpy girl with a face that would turn milk sour. When researching some things you have to be careful as some people like to over glamorise certain people and Irma Grese is often over glamorised in my opinion. 

She was narcissistic and wouldn't pass a mirror without looking at her reflection, she would tell anyone who would listen (or be beaten and forced to listen) that when the war was over she was going to be a huge star in the movies. 

(Auschwitz. Picture credit: britannica)

The survivors named her 'The Beautiful Beast of Auschwitz', well she was certainly a beast, an evil beast who would torture the women of the camps by slashing at their bare breasts with a pleated whip that she carried around with her at all times along with her pistol. She would beat them if they didn't cry loud enough. She enjoyed targeting people and working them to death. 

She took great pleasure in selecting people to be sent to the gas chamber and would often select women she thought were prettier or slimmer than her. She would force prisoners to perform sex acts on her and if they refused to do so, she would beat them to death or set her dogs on them (Irma also had two aggressive dogs that she would keep starved and set them onto the prisoners for her own amusement). Irma would happily stand and watch as the dogs ripped apart prisoners. 

She was known to force prisoners to stand out in the rain and snow for 6 hours at a time. If any prisoner was seen to be trying to get some rest or sit down for 5 minutes, she would shoot them or beat them to death. Irma would line prisoners up and just shoot random people just because she felt like it and was alleged to have killed up to 30 people on a daily basis. 

With her constant torturing and murdering of prisoners, Irma was busy doing something else too and that was having sex with various male guards of the camps. She had affairs with Josef Mengele (The notorious DR Death) and Commandant Josef Kramer amongst others and these affairs enabled her to have certain 'privileges' such as, with Mengele, she would select certain prisoners for his medical experiments picking women she felt were more beautiful than her. She would often attend the experiments and laugh as procedures were done without anaesthesia especially the ones where some of the female victims had sores and severe, deep cuts on their breasts from where she had violently whipped them (because of the appalling condition of the camp, these horrible injuries were often full of mites and painful infections).

She was also known to have tied the legs together of female prisoners as they were giving birth. The torture and hell that was suffered by the prisoners of Auschwitz and neighbouring camps are unimaginable horror, when you think you have heard enough or think how much worse can it possibly have gotten, you find out more horrific details that just blow your mind and sicken you that much more. 

Her affair with Josef Mengele soon came to an abrupt end when he found out that she was having sex with female prisoners (Irma would routinely rape other women in front of other prisoners and when she grew tired of them she either send them to the gas chamber or beat them to death). 

Thousands of people, male and female died at the hands of Irma Grese but her evil and unimaginable crimes were soon brought to an end on the 17th of April 1945 when she was captured by the British Army. 

Irma Grese & Josef Kramer in prison. Picture credit: infocenters)

The war was officially declared over in 1945 and some Nazis were captured and others were able to flee. Irma stood trial among other female guards who were just as evil as she was but for some reason she was the main focus. She was one of only three female guards sentenced to death, the others got various sentences or were let go. 

At her trial she remained defiant throughout and felt that she had carried out her duties to the best of her ability, she never showed any remorse. The only time she expressed emotion was when the argument with her father was brought up in the court room. 

(Irma Grese at her trial. She is pictured in the centre with the number 9 label. Picture credit: holocaustresearchproject)

She was sentenced to hang along with two other female guards, Johanna Bormann and Elizabeth Volkenrath.

The night before her execution, she remained strong in her Nazi beliefs and sang Nazi propaganda songs all night with her fellow prisoners. The morning soon came and without emotion she stood on the gallow, as the cap was placed over her head she said ''SCHNELL'' (meaning 'quickly') in German and with that she was put to death. 

After about 20 minutes she was declared dead and her body was placed in a coffin for burial. 

The horrors of Nazi Germany in WW2 are the stuff of nightmares and it's very hard to believe that such horror actually happened. No matter how many years go by or books I read, documentaries I have watched, every time I am absolutely horrified and in utter disbelief that these events actually happened and I hear and read new shocking stories and details all the time about it. 

These monsters (what else could I possibly call them?) who worked in these camps or the guards who patrolled the streets and damaged or stole the properties of Jewish people and other victims from different backgrounds, were mostly from uneducated backgrounds and had normal jobs before the war. It seemed that anyone could join up and be given a gun and a uniform and given free reign to do whatever they liked to an innocent selection of communities. 

I learned about some of WW2 in high school but only bits and pieces, obviously they didn't teach us the full truth of the atrocities. Like a lot of people, I have read books and watched the documentaries but I am still learning and I think it's very important to learn about this horrifying part of our world's history. Someone said we learn from history so as not to repeat it again. I write this post as the current situation in Ukraine (March 2022) is going on, where innocent people are being forced to flee their homes and children have been killed. We still live in a dangerous world and it's up to us to stand together to support one another and try to ensure that something like the holocaust never happens again. I know we can't control certain situations but us ourselves just being good people, standing against such atrocities and being a support to people in need can do so much. 

RIP to those who have lost their lives at the hands of the evil Nazi regime and those who have died as the result of all wars and respect to those who have fought for peace and continue to do so. 

Further reading & Sources: 

Irma Grese: Hitler's WW2 Female Monsters Exposed | Book by Jerry Larson & Erik Clark

The Nazis: A Warning From History | Book & Documentaries by Laurence Rees

Irma Grese: Article | Daily Mail

Irma Grese | Capital Punishment UK

Irma Grese | Wikipedia

Ravensbruck | Holocaust Encyclopedia

Ravensbruck | Wikipedia

Auschwitz - Burkenau | Memorial & Museum

Auschwitz | Holocaust Encyclopedia

Thank you for taking the time to check out my post and hope you will join me next week for the next part of my Horrific History & True Crime Series. See you on my Socials in the meantime x 

1 comment:

  1. Hello Jo,

    It’s a pleasure to read your new true crime case. I love your idea of publishing about a series of posts. That is BRILLIANT. I can’t wait to read everything about your “Horrific History & True Crime”. Your idea is pure genius, creative and so imaginative. I love it !
    OMG, the Nazi regime was such an atrocity.
    I wasn’t aware about how evil Irma Grese was. I mean I knew a little bit about her “In surface” but now, I’m truly in shock ! Auschwitz was a total nightmare. To this day, I still can’t believe that as humans, we allow this horrendous tragedy to happen.
    Her children’s years were chaotic but it’s no excuse for what she has done. What was happening to her mother was horrendous and tragic but again, it wasn’t any excuse for what she has done later with her life. It’s sad to see that a monster could emerge because of a difficult relationship with a family member.

    Their SS training was pure insanity. My God, that’s awful !
    The guards were training to be monsters and it disturb me so much ! She become a sadistic monster.

    All the torture parts were so disturbing. I had to take some break because I was in total shock. What she has done to her victims was beyond crazy. Brutal and inhuman ! All the sexual sevices that she has done. I’m speechless.
    I didn’t know that she was an affair with DR. Death.

    Thankfully, she got executed for her crimes.

    As I was reading your case, I was also thinking about what is happening in Ukraine with a heavy heart. We do still in a dangerous world. I hope that peace will come soon and I hope that we had learn something from the past but sadly, I don’t think we did.

    RIP to all the victims of the evil monstruous Nazi regime Xx

    Thank you so much for your masterful and amazing work Jo !!!