The Cruelty Of Irma Grese: The Beast Of Belsen

By | February 15, 2019

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Irma Grese, a German guard at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, was noted for her cruelty to prisoners. She underwent a trial for war crimes in 1945. Source: (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Her Troubled Childhood

Irma Grese was born in 1923, one of five children. Her mother committed suicide when Irma was thirteen. In school, Irma was bullied very badly. So much so that she dropped out of school in her early teens. She worked in shops and on a farm to earn money. She also became enamored of Hitler which displeased her father tremendously. At the age of nineteen, she became a guard at the Ravensbruck concentration camp. She once returned home after training to show her father what she had accomplished but he beat her severely and told her to never return.

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Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Source: (

Irma’s Rise in the Ranks

Irma Grese received orders to transfer to Auschwitz in 1943. She was assigned to the women’s camp in Birkenau where the gas chambers were. She commanded a gardening squad, was a telephone operator, and censored the mail. She was there for fourteen months. In 1944, Irma Grese was promoted to Oberaufseherin, which was the second highest rank a woman could achieve within the SS. She commanded 30,000 women prisoners.