You have heard of a lot of horror stories that came out of the concentration camps built by the Nazi’s. The villain in most of these stories is the camp commander or a guard but almost always a man. Did you know that some women were equally brutal in their administration of these camps? Here are nine women who were well-known for their brutality towards the populations of concentration camps.
1. Dorothea Binz
In 1939, Binz was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp as a guard and supervisor. Her brutal frame of mind quickly saw her rise among the ranks to match up to her male counterparts. Her actions were described as unyielding as she walked around with a whip and did not hesitate to kick, whip, abuse, and shoot female inmates. She was often seen taking romantic walks with her boyfriend around the camp and having a hearty laugh with him on watching executions. She trained some of the cruelest female guards among the Nazis andsometimes hundred at a time. She was caught after the war and hanged on May 2nd, 1947.
2. Greta Bösel
A camp guard at Ravensbrück concentration camp, Bosel was remembered for her cruelty in the selection process. She decided whether a Jew was sent to the gas chamber or to forced labor. She was heard saying “If they cannot work, let them rot”. She too was tried and hanged on May 3rd, 1947.
3. Herta Bothe
Known as the “Sadist of Stutthof”, she also served the Nazi’s as a camp guard. Bothe was remembered to have lent brutal beatings to the Jews and using a piston on one occasion on one of the Jews. She was caught and after a few years was let off as an act of leniency by the British Government as her acts did not match up to her counterparts. Years later she was interviewed and this is what she had to say to the question on her decision on being a camp guard “What do you mean, made a mistake? No… I’m not quite sure I should answer that. 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.”
4. Wanda Klaff
She worked in a jam factory and in 1944, a then housewife, she became part of the camp staff at Stutthof’s camp. She was known to have abused and brutally beaten many prisoners at the camp. When the allies invaded she fled the camp but was caught in 1945 by Polish authorities. At the trial before she was hanged her last statement was “I am very intelligent and very devoted to my work in the camps. I struck at least two prisoners every day.”
5. Alice Orlowski
She started as a guard, training at the Ravensbrück concentration camp but was later posted as an SS Aufseherin to the Majdanek camp near Lublin, Poland. Here she came to be known as one of the most brutal overseers. She also used to walk around with a whip and lash the inmates in the eyes with it. As a result of that the inmates were sent to the gas chambers as they were then of no use as laborers. While sending the inmates to the Chambers she followed a “space saving policy” in which she would shove the children on top of the other inmates which resulted in death by suffocation. Surprisingly, before the war was nearly done, she started to treat the inmates with a more humane approach. She gave them water and even slept by their side to comfort them. At the Auschwitz Trial in 1947, she was sentenced to life imprisonment but walked free ten years later. She died in 1976 during her second trial at the age of 73.
6. Maria Mandl
Known as the “Beast”, Mandl joined the camp staff in 1938 and her devilish behavior saw her raise the ranks to the top. She was in charge of all the female concentration camps at Auschwitz and female subcamps including at Hindenburg, Lichtewerden and Raisko. She alone is responsible for the deaths of at least 500,000 inmates. She would kill any inmate that would look at her and offered physical abuse to almost all. She created the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz to accompany executions, selections and transports. She was hanged on 28th Jan, 1948 for her heinous crimes.
7. Elisabeth Volkenrath
Trained at the Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1941 and in 1942 went to Auschwitz concentration camp and oversaw executions, gas chamber genocides and so on. She worked along with the staffs that choose the inmates who went to the gas chambers. She was arrested and hanged in 1945.
8. Juana Bormann
Known by the inmates as “The woman with the Dogs”, she said that she had joined the Auxiliary SS in 1938 “to earn more money”. This short cruel woman was known for her abuse on the inmates and at times let her dog, a German Shepard, attack the prisoners. She was 42 when she was hanged on December 13th, 1945.
9. Ilse Koch
Inmates called her “The Witch of Buchenwald”. This was one strange case of brutality as this lady was not a guard or part of the SS. She was the wife of Commander Karl Koch. What is astounding is the measure of her cruelty. She used to investigate inmates on arrival and those with attractive tattoos she used to skin them and use their skin as lamp shades. Other crime that she was convicted for was to order a soldier to rape an inmate in front of her. In 1940, she built an indoor sports arena which then cost $62,500, most of the earning which had been stolen from inmates and her husband and she killed those they stole from to wipe out any evidence. Her husband was accused of stealing and embezzlement by the SS and was hanged. She was known to be promiscuous and her affairs with officers and inmates were well known. She shocked the court room during her second trial by stating that she was pregnant, although no one had a clue how, as she had no contact with men in her cell. She committed suicide in prison on September 1st, 1967, she was 60.