Five notorious female Nazi guards who served the regime with horrifying vigor.
5. Greta Bösel
A nurse by training, Bösel became a camp guard at Ravensbrück in August 1944. As an arbeitseinsatzführerin (work input overseer) Bösel was among those who chose which prisoners, upon arrival to the camp, would be immediately gassed. An ardent Nazi, Bösel is quoted as saying “If they cannot work, let them rot.” She fled with her husband following the Red Army’s impending liberation of Ravensbrück but was caught and arrested by British troops. Bösel stood accused at the first Ravensbrück trial and was executed for her crimes on May 3, 1947.
4. Maria Mandl
Mandl, infamous for her key role in the Holocaust, is believed to have been directly involved in over 500,000 deaths of women and children prisoners–most deaths occurring during her post at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Known as “The Beast” at Auschwitz, Mandl created the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz to tauntingly perform at roll calls, executions, selections and transport. The U.S. Army arrested Mandl on August 10, 1945, who was later tried in the Auschwitz trial and sentenced to death. Mandl was hanged on January 24, 1948.
3. Dorothea Binz
Volunteering to work for the kitchen at Ravensbrück in August 1939, within a month Binz was quickly promoted to the position of aufseherin (female overseer). Known to be particularly sadistic, Binz reportedly slapped, kicked, shot, whipped, stomped, and abused prisoners without compunction. At the close of the war, Binz fled during the death march from Ravensbrück but was captured by the British in Hamburg and stood trial at the Ravensbrück proceedings. Sentenced to death for her part in the Holocaust, Binz was hanged on May 2, 1947.
2. Juana Bormann
Short in stature and known for her cruelty, Bormann’s victims called her “Wiesel” and “the woman with the dogs.” A guard at Ravensbrück, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Budy (a nearby subcamp), and Bergen-Belsen, Bormann frequently unleashed her German Shepherd on helpless prisoners. Incarcerated by the British Army, Bormann was prosecuted at the Belsen trial. Found guilty of murder, she was hanged on December 13, 1945.
1. Irma Grese
Nicknamed by camp inmates the “Hyena of Auschwitz,” Irma Grese served as a female SS guard at the Nazi concentration camps of Ravensbrück and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Unremittingly brutal, Grese impressed her superiors at Ravensbrück and was soon promoted to aufseherin, then to rapportfuuhrerin–the second-highest rank for female KZ-wardens. Deeply devoted to the Nazi cause, Grese earned the reputation of being a sadist who relished “whipping well-developed young women on the breasts…” and beating prisoners until their faces were raw, according to witness testimony. Captured on April 17, 1945, Grese was convicted for crimes against humanity and sentenced to death. She was hanged on December 13, 1945.