German Girls for Matrimony
In the 1920s and early 1930s, Irma Grese was growing up in the village of Wrechen in Mecklenburg, not far from Berlin. She was in her early teens when she joined the Hitler Youth as the daughter of a farm laborer. The blond girl, who had lost her mother early, was beautiful if not delicate. She was "a frightened young girl," as she later admitted, predestined to be bullied by her classmates. She wanted to excel, but her schoolwork left something to be desired. However, service in Hitler's youth squads, of which her father disapproved, pleased her. Soon she was a fanatical member of the HJ organization for females, the BDM. First a nursing assistant, then a dairy helper, Irma was merely eighteen in 1942, when she was somehow persuaded to enter the SS Female Helpers' training base at the nearby women's concentration camp of Ravensbrück. In that camp, these helpers, or SSHelferinnen, were subjected to tough routines. Nazi-style discipline was to be learned by watching and practicing cruelty on inmates and engaging in promiscuous sex with male SS guards. Such discipline was designed to rob the girls of any vestiges of conventional morality.
Her SS training completed, Irma was transferred to Auschwitz in March of 1943. Here she became notorious as the Beautiful Beast. "She was one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen," recalls former inmate Gisella Perl. "Her body was perfect in every line, her face clear and angelic and her blue eyes the gayest, the most innocent