War Crimes Trials - Vol. II The Belsen Trial. 'The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty Four Others'

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Grese, Irma)

(112) STATEMENT OF IRMA GRESE (German, aged 21)

I am 21years of age and come from Wrechen near Feldberg, Mecklenburg. From the age of 16 I worked as an assistant nurse in a hospital and remained there until I was 18 years old. I wanted to become a nurse but was made to join the S.S. as a supervisor at concentration camps. This was in July, 1942.

I first went to Ravensbrück, where I was made an Aufseherin and placed in charge of female working parties consisting of about 20 prisoners. In March, 1943, I was sent to Birkenau near Auschwitz, where I remained up to January, 1945. I then went to Ravensbrück for four weeks and arrived at Belsen in March 1945.

I know from the prisoners that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz and that prisoners were gassed there. Dr. Mengele came in the camp at Birkenau and sorted out the people unfit for work for these transports. I knew what was happening and have hidden mothers and children away in order that they should not be chosen. I was once denounced by the Jews for having done this and was put under arrest for two days in my room. Jews were used as spies in this camp and had certain privileges. I never took part in choosing people and was only on parade for roll-call and seeing that no one escaped.

I have never beaten or kicked any prisoners. It is true that I made people stand on Appell for long periods, but never until they dropped. I have seen people beaten by Rapportführer Tauber at Birkenau and by Rapportführer Drechsel. I was once told by Drechsel that if it was necessary I could hit prisoners, but I never did this. I cannot remember who was Kommandant at this time. Whilst I was there Hoess, Hartjenstein, Scharz and Kramer were Kommandanten.

Conditions in the concentration camps were bad for everyone, including the S.S. The only time I was allowed home was for five days after I had finished my training at Ravensbrück. I then told my father about the concentration camp and he gave me a beating and told me never to come home again. Himmler is responsible for all that has happened, but I suppose I have as much guilt as all the others above me. Conditions were very bad at Belsen, but there was little I could do, although I did all I could do to help.


1. I have said in a previous statement that I have never beaten or ill-treated prisoners. I have thought it over and I now wish to confess that I have done so and to tell the truth.

2. My duties at Belsen included taking Appell, or roll-call, twice a week. My rank was Kommandoführerin. I was employed as Aufseherin. In this capacity it was my duty to supervise tidiness and general cleanliness in the camp. My duties were in the women's camp only. I never struck prisoners during the 3 ½ weeks I was at Belsen.

3. While at Auschwitz I struck female prisoners on the face with my hand for using dixies as latrine buckets. Though I never struck prisoners in Belsen and I never saw anyone else do so, I remember seeing Rapportführerin Drechsel strike prisoners at Auschwitz. She did this with her hand. I only saw it from a distance, but they were struck only on the head. I myself did not strike prisoners often, but quite frequently when they did something I didn’t like.

4. On the whole I consider that I treated prisoners well. I did not think that any of them were hostile to me when I was working in the camp. I now find that they all appear to be hostile to me. I think that is because they were hostile to all S.S. because they cannot forget the number of people among them who were gassed at Auschwitz. I myself think they are perfectly right to feel hostile towards us.

5. I have been shown photograph B.U. 3746, showing a woman with bad scars on her face which I believe to have been caused by beating with a stick. I have never seen such a thing happen at Belsen, but I have definitely seen Unterscharführer Tauber beat people in this way at Auschwitz. He did it with a stick.

6. I have again reflected and I wish to add that I have, in fact, beaten prisoners other than with my hand as already described. This was at Auschwitz, when for at least a week several of us S.S. women had short whips made in the camp workshops, with one of which I several times struck prisoners before these whips were taken away from us as unauthorised. Arms were never carried or possessed by any S.S. women.

7. I also now admit that I punished prisoners by making them kneel on the grounds for periods of a quarter of an hour at a time. I did not, at the same time, make them hold their hands above their heads, but I saw this being done, when I have made my report to another part of the camp at Auschwitz. I do not know the names of the people in Auschwitz responsible for inflicting this punishment.

8. I remember saying in the first statement I made to an English [British] officer that "Himmler is responsible for all that has happened, but I suppose I have as much guilt as all the others above me." I meant by this that simply by being in the S.S, and seeing the crimes committed on orders from those in authority and doing nothing to protest or stop them being committed makes anybody in the S.S. as guilty as anybody else. The crimes I refer to are the gassing of persons at Auschwitz and the killing of thousands at Belsen by starvation and disease. I consider the crime to be murder.

9. I know about the gas chamber at Auschwitz because prisoners who worked in it told us about it. I only saw it myself from a distance, but I have no doubt that many were gassed there.

10. I recognise a number of people on photographs I have been shown of S.S. guards who were at Belsen. No. 3 on photograph 1 was a clerk at Auschwitz. I do not know his duties at Belsen. No. 4 on photograph 3 was an electrician at Belsen and Auschwitz. No. 1 on photograph 5 was a cook at Auschwitz and in the food store at Belsen. No. 2 on photograph 5 worked with No. 4 on photograph 3 as an electrician both at Auschwitz and Belsen. No. 4 on photograph 7 was a cook at Belsen. No. 5 on photograph is Doctor Klein. No. 3 on photograph 9 was a waiter in the Officers' Mess at Belsen. No. 1 on photograph 9 was only at Belsen a few days. He came from Mittelbau. I do not know how he was employed. Nos. 1 and 3 on photograph 12 were employed at both Auschwitz and Belsen in the guardroom checking prisoners in and out. On photograph 22 No. 6 was in charge of all S.S. women guards. No. 5 was No. 6’s second in command. No. 3 was a telephonist. No. 1 was in charge of the bread store. On photograph 19 No. 6 was in the kitchen for a little while, No. 5 and No. 4 were Aufseherinnen. No. 3 looked after the pigs, No. 2 was a telephonist. On photograph 25 No. 5 was in charge of the wood cutting and chopping, No. 4 supervised outside working parties. On photograph 35 No. 5 was a telephonist, No. 2 was sick while I was there, No. 3 worked in the kitchen. On photograph 37 No. 2 was in the kitchen, No. 3 was also in the kitchen.

11. I never saw any of the beforementioned S.S. ill-treating prisoners in any way. I have now confessed to all the ill-treatment of prisoners of which I was guilty because it has been on my conscience. I have nothing else to admit.


1. On further reflection I wish to say that in three respects the statements I made in my previous deposition were not accurate. First of all I previously stated that I never carried arms. In fact Aufseherinnen at Auschwitz did carry pistols, I among them. My pistol, however, was never loaded and I did not know how to use it nor did I ever do so. Second, when I stated that the only time I had used a weapon to beat prisoners was when I had a whip for a week; this was untrue. I did, in fact, always have a whip which I used consistently whenever necessary. Third, I admit that there was also a walking-stick which we kept in the Lagerältester’s room and which, although it was unauthorised, we frequently used to beat prisoners. I usually used to beat them on the shoulders, but there were times when, because of the numbers involved, they were beaten on any part of the body that happened to be easiest. All the beatings to which I refer were immediate and I have never taken part in deliberately organised punishments. If it was desired to inflict an organised beating the prisoner had to be reported and confined in a special cell pending punishment. I never saw any such authorised punishment carried out.

Appendices (Affidavits & Statements - Grese, Irma)