Of the 55,000 guards who served in Nazi concentration camps, about 3,700 were women. In 1942, the first female guards arrived at Auschwitz and Majdanek from Ravensbrück. Female guards were generally from the lower to middle class and had no work experience; their professional background varied. One source mentions former matrons, hairdressers, tramcar-conductresses, opera singers or retired teachers. The female guards' training was similar to that of their male counterparts; the women attended classes which ranged from four weeks to half a year, headed by the head wardresses however, near the end of the war little, if any, training was given to fresh recruits. But when it came for this women to show their sadistic and sheer brutality, they showed that they were capable of anything and everything without an ounce of remorse. Here's a list of the 10 most wicked women to ever run these Nazi camps.
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1.- Elisabeth Volkenrath
After training under Dorothea Binz she was to serve at Ravensbruck and Auschwitz-Birkenau before being appointed senior supervisor at Bergen-Belsen. Well known to have participated in the execution of prisoners, at her trial she was convicted and, like her teacher, executed for her crimes. During pretrial interviews and subsequent testimony, she admitted to her supervisory positions in the camps but denied selecting prisoners for the gas chambers or beating women prisoners. She did admit to slapping the faces of women regularly to maintain discipline.
2.- Irma Grese aka The Beautiful Beast
After the war, survivors provided extensive details of murders, tortures, cruelties and sexual excesses engaged in by Irma Grese. 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. She habitually wore heavy boots and carried a whip and a pistol. She used both physical and emotional methods to torture the camp's inmates and enjoyed shooting prisoners in cold blood. She beat some of the women to death and whipped others mercilessly using a plaited whip,specifically women with big breast whipping them until they had no choice but to remove the remaining breasts without anesthesia. The skins of three inmates that she had had made into lamp shades were found in her hut. It is estimated she killed about 616 women, sometimes killing about 30 people a day.
3.- Ilse Koch aka The Witch of Buchenwald/ Other
Koch was not a guard, in fact she was married to Karl Koch who was the commander of Buchenwald and later Majdanek. Using the power that his position granted her, Koch developed a reputation for cruelty which was nothing short of unbelievable. Koch, it has been testified, was known to meet prisoners upon their arrival to inspect them for interesting or attractive tattoos. If she saw something which caught her eye, she had the prisoner executed, skinned and their skin made into useful items such as lampshades or book covers. While it has never been proven that she manufactured anything from the skins, her collection was used against her at her trials. What has also been proven is that she often instigated the torture of inmates including forcing one of them to rape another in plain sight.
4.- Ruth Neudeck
Arriving only in 1944 Neudeck rose meteorically through the ranks, eventually being assigned the rank of camp leader at one of Ravensbruck’s sub camps. Noted for her cruelty one of her prisoners testified at her trial that they witnessed her slit the throat of another prisoner with the sharpened edge of a shovel. Following the war, she fled but was captured, tried and later executed for her crimes. Neudeck was found guilty of selecting and executing 5000 women and children.
5.- Herta Bothe aka The Sadist Of Stutthoff
Yet another nurse who apparently forgot the healing touch, Herta's crimes weren't considered as brutal as those of her counterpart so her life was spared and she was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. In that same interview she had recalled with anger how the British troops had ordered the guard to bury the death bodies of the prisoners they had killed and that she was ‘terrified of contracting typhus because the guards were not allowed to wear gloves or masks.’ She described how the arms and legs of the decomposed bodies came off in her hands when she tried to pick them up, and how lifting the emaciated bodies caused her back pain. Sixty years after the war in the course of an interview she was asked about her decision to work as in a concentration camp. “Did I make a mistake? No. The mistake was that it was a concentration camp, but I had to go to it, otherwise I would have been put into it myself. That was my mistake, she is 94 and currently alive.
6.- Wanda Klaff
A latecomer, Klaff had worked in a jam factory until she was assigned to Stutthoff in 1944 where she served until the end of the war in 1945. Arrested by Polish officials that same year she was tried and later executed for her crimes. It is interesting to note that she is quoted as saying, “I am very intelligent and very devoted to my work in the camps. I struck at least two prisoners every day.” Perhaps given that she said this at her trial she may have overstated her level of intelligence.
7.- Hildegard Lächert aka Bloody Brigette/Other
Beginning in 1942, at the age of 22 Lächert had served at Ravensbruck, Majdanek and Auschwitz. She was a former nurse and in the course of her brutal career she mothered three children. Following the Auschmitz Trial in 1947, she was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Although she got released only nine later in 1956 her freedom did not last long. In 1975 she was convicted of participating in the selection process at the camps. One of the survivors testified that she was such a savage that “she struck until blood showed” which gave her the nickname “Bloody Brigitte”. She was also accused of releasing her dog onto inmates and therefore was sentenced to an additional twelve years.
8.- Greta Bosel
Yet another heartless nurse, in 1939 Bosel worked at Ravenbruck concentration camp as a “work imput overseer.” Essentially what this meant was that Bosel was among those who decided which prisoners would be immediately gassed and which would be sent to work camps. Apparently her philosophy was right in line with that in the Nazi hierarchy since she is quoted as having said of the prisoners, “If they cannot work let them rot.” On 3 May 1945, following the Hamburg Ravensbruck War Crimes Trial, Bosel was executed for maltreatment, murder and taking part in the selection process. Bosel was hanged using the same noose as Binz.
9.- Maria Mandel aka The Beast/Other
Mandel was held directly responsible for the deaths of 500,000 prisoners. Having worked in various other camps she had managed to impress her superiors quickly and before long she became the highest commandant at the Auschwitz-Birkenau (she had to only report to a male commandant because according to the Nazi’s a man can never be subordinate to a woman). An intelligent woman but a vicious sadist at heart, there are reasons for her being nicknamed ‘the beast’ – she would stand at the gate waiting for someone to look around at her then she would drag her/him out of the line and murder him/her. She often selected Jews to serve as her “pet” until she got tired of them and sent them to be executed. Mandel is reported to have enjoyed making selection of children to be killed. At the Auschwitz she had created the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz which performed during exit and entrance of working prisoners and also when they were sent to be executed. Mandel believed, it soothed the minds of the would-be dead and make her work more efficient. Estimated to have sent half a million women and children to death, Mandel paid for her inhumanity on January 24, 1948.
10.- Alice Orlowski
Regarded as one of the most brutal overseer; and no wonder, for she came out with unique torture practises like whipping prisoners across the eyes thereby making them unfit for work, which caused them being sent to execution. To finish off with as many people as possible she would throw little children on top of the people loaded in the trucks destined to gas chambers. But near the end of the war, her behaviours surprisingly or rather shockingly changed. The death march from Auschwitz-Berkenau to Lolau witnessed the changes in her where she would often comfort the prisoners, provided water to the thirsty prisoners and even slept alongside them on the ground. Her behaviour is still open to debate. Following the end of the war she was tried, found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment but was released in 1957 having served only 10 years. However in 1976 Orlowski was called in for a second trial during which she died.
11.- Dorothea Binz aka The Binz
Beginning in 1939 Binz began a career as a concentration camp guard eventually rising through the ranks to become deputy chief wards at Ravensbruck and later Buchenwald. Described by the prisoners as “unyielding” Binz was well known to beat, shoot and whip the females in her charge. In one instance of particular brutality she is reported to have chopped a prisoner to death with an axe during a forced labor assignment. While she fled at the close of the war she was caught, tried and on May 2, 1947 executed for her crimes.
12.- Juana Bormann aka The Woman with Dogs/Other
Noted for her brutality, Bormann was well known for having the German shepherd which accompanied her attack the prisoners. She was last posted in Bergan-Belsen in March 1945 and in the following month of April, when the British Army invaded Bergan-Belsen they found over 10,000 corpse and 60,000 prisoners at the camp. In the end though her cruelty and sadism came back to haunt her when she was convicted of murder and executed on December 13, 1945.
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Do you think these women got what they deserved?