The beautiful beast and the hyena of Auschwitz were just some names used for Irma Grese. She was born to Berta Grese and Alfred Grese, both dairy workers, on 7 October 1923. Irma was the third of five children (three girls and two boys). In 1936, her mother died by suicide after drinking hydrochloric acid following the discovery of Alfred’s affair with a local pub owner’s daughter.
Holocaust survivor said this about Grese: “She was one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. Her body was perfect in every line, her face clear and angelic, and her blue eyes the gayest, the most innocent eyes one can imagine. And yet, Irma Grese was the most depraved, cruel and imaginative pervert I ever came across.”
According to professor Wendy A. Sarti’s research, Grese had a sick fondness for striking women on their breasts and for forcing Jewish girls to be her lookout as she raped inmates. As if this wasn’t enough, Sarti reported that Grese would sick her dog on prisoners, whip them constantly, and kick them with her hobnailed jackboots until there was blood.
After the war, several Holocaust survivors provided extensive details of murders, tortures, cruelties and sexual excesses engaged in by Irma Grese during her years at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. They testified to her acts of pure sadism, beatings and arbitrary shooting of prisoners, savaging of prisoners by her trained and half-starved dogs, to her selecting prisoners for the gas chambers.
On 13 December 1945, in Hamelin Prison, Grese was led to the gallows. British Army Regimental Sergeant-Major Richard Anthony O’Neill was an assistant to the executioner, Albert Pierrepoint. “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 around it and 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 [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.”
I am not sure if there ever was a film made about Irma Grese, but if a movie would be made I think Elisabeth Moss should play her, the resemblance is uncanny.
I don’t see the resemblance between Elisabeth Moss and Irma Grese. From the photo, she doesn’t look beautiful to me. But there is no doubt she deserved to hang.
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