06 January 2014

Macabre Monday: The Holocaust's "Hyena of Auschwitz"

Everything pertaining to the Holocaust is already as macabre as you can get.

However, when finishing up a book written by a Holocaust survivor, Auschwitz Belongs to Us All by Marta Ascoli, the author makes it very clear how we all need to keep the memories of the Holocaust alive. If the events didn't necessarily affect you in some way, they still affected your history.

Auschwitz in particular is one of the more infamous of the concentration camps, being one of the largest, and not to mention where Anne Frank was initially taken. It's also where the "Angel of Death"--Josef Mengele--practiced his grotesque experiments.

In the book I read, Auschwitz-Birkenau is where the author was imprisoned, and where she comes face-to-face with the sadistic woman I'll focus on for today's Macabre Monday: Irma Grese, also known as "The Hyena of Auschwitz" or sometimes "The Beautiful Beast."

Irma Grese with Josef Kramer

Irma Grese, who first signed up to work at the concentration camp Ravensbruck, was later appointed to the position of a Senior SS-Supervisor in Auschwitz, where her terror reigned down upon the inmates. Later, she spent time at the camp Bergen-Belsen, where she was caught by the British and later hanged after the camp was liberated.

She was notorious for carrying around a whip, which she didn't hesitate to thrash women with, and she apparently wasn't shy to let loose German Shepherds on prisoners, either.

Josef Mengele, the physician known to perform such horrid experiments (especially on twins), as well as Josef Kramer (in the picture above) who was Grese's commandant, were both said to have been lovers of Irma Grese. She was considered a very beautiful Aryan woman, and many witnesses said she was known to not only interact with these two men, but other soldiers as well.

The real thing that freaked me out, besides her supposedly being one of the people in charge for selecting those to go to the gas chamber, was that witnesses repeatedly stated that she had made lampshades out of human skin from three women. I remember reading in the past about soap being produced from human fat (some say it was a myth, others say it was real), but I don't recall ever reading anything about human skin. That was a doozy.

She was 22 years old when she was hanged after a fair trial.

Some say it is so sad that she was given such a quick death when those around her were given nothing but a lingering, painful one; others visit Auschwitz again and rejoice that there are no sounds of barking German Shepherds, no whips, and no Irma Grese.

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