Female Prison Guards At Nazi Concentration Camps

Concentration camps were one of the most inhumane Nazi Germany inventions brought onto the world. During World War II Germany had been a place of war and bloodshed, one of the reasons was that there had been a hatred for those who were not of the Aryan race. Many people had been tortured and killed purely because of their religion such as the Jews and Jehovah witnesses. It was then the idea of concentration camps had arisen in order to eliminate those who were not favoured. The concentration camps had been run by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It was a place where political prisoners, asocials, Jews, Jehovah’s witnesses and criminals had been sent to and tortured mentally and physically on a daily. The concentration camps had led to the start of what is known today as the holocaust which was a genocide during World War II in which 6 million Jews had been killed between 1941 and 1945. The purpose of these concentration camps was to get rid of groups people in a place away from the public and law in order to achieve a country without certain people as well as to torture and eliminate the enemies of Germany. The concentration camps had also been used to exploit forced labour onto the prisoners. At the concentration camps not only male guards were assigned to prisoners but as well as female prison guards who were known as the ‘’Angels of Death’’. Although following strict gender separation rules from Heinrich Himmler, female prison guards were only employed in concentration camps for woman, but it was organised identical to the concentration camps for men. It is said that the woman that who had become female prison guards had done so on their own will as prison guard job advertisements had been published in the newspaper. Working as prison guard’s woman gained the status of employees of the Rein with a fixed salary. To become an official SS guard the woman had to undergo a 3-month compulsory training at Ravensbruck. Onto joining the SS every male and female had to sign a declaration ‘’not to decide on the life or death of an enemy of the state or to physically mistreat them’’ which clearly states that no SS member had the right to use violence on prisoners let alone kill them. Although there are witnesses and evidence to prove that violence had occurred on a daily at the concentration camps.

The most common forms of abuse used in the concentration camps were verbal abuse, slaps, blows and kicks. Sources say that the prison guards had usually set dogs onto the prisoners. Although unlike the men, woman had not been allowed to take part in mass killings such as gas chambers or mass shootings. Despite living in the camp there were rules and limits set for the guards, but they also enjoyed certain privileges, as the tasks of cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing was performed by the inmates therefore allowing the guards not to worry about housework or laundry which allowed them to live in luxury to an extent. Another perk of being a prison guard was that they were given free living accommodation. Compared to their living conditions at home it can be said that life at the concentration camps were up to date and comfortable for the prison guards. Although their days of living in luxury and comfort had been cut short when World War II had ended and along with it the inhumane practices of the concentration camps. The prison guards who had been torturing the prisoners for numerous years had been placed on trial under the British law for breaking the human rights abuses law in the concentration camps and had been severely punished for their crimes. Irma Grese who was one of the youngest yet most notorious female prison guard who had worked in the Auschwitz concentration camp was known as ‘’The beautiful beast’’ and was the youngest to be tried under British law as well as the youngest of the prison guards to be executed. Irma was born on the 7 th October and had died at the age of 22 on the 13 th December 1945. Sources say that she had beaten the faces of the prisoners until they were raw and had worn hobnailed jackboots to kick them until blood flowed as well as unleashing her dogs onto the prisoners. She had forced them to hold heavy rocks above their heads and kneel for hours, and she had a whip in which used very consistently.

Although woman had not been allowed to take part in mass killings Irma took part in choosing inmates for the gas chambers. Irma has been said to be sadistic as she well-groomed herself and wore custom fitted clothes and perfume to mock the ragged woman in the concentration camps. She had been captured on the 17 th of April 1945 by the British army and was put on trial for the crimes she had committed at Auschwitz. Irma was convicted for crimes that had involved the abuse and murder of the prisoners in the concentration camps. She had been hung on the 13 th of December and with her death, the justice of those she had wronged had been served. Just like Irma all the female Nazi prison guards who had abused and murdered the prisoners in the concentration camps had either been executed or sent to jail and by doing so the lives of the people they murdered would not go in vain. Those prisoners who had survived the concentration camps have lived to tell their story and share their experiences and have helped bring justice to themselves and to those who have passed, by being witnesses in cases and by writing books to share their story with the world.

01 February 2021
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