1945: READY FOR HER CLOSE-UP; Joseph Trainor

Schindler's List is now out on DVD. One of the most chilling scenes in the
film is when Schindler's Jews are lined up at Auschwitz, and along comes
the dark-haired Dr. Joseph Mengele, coaxing the elderly out of formation
for some unspecified "treatment."

Dr. Mengele, who drowned while swimming at a public beach in Santos, S.P.,
Brazil in 1979, is remembered today as "the Angel of Death." But the title
wasn't originally his--it belonged to his off-and-on girl friend, an
Aufseherin of the Allegemeine-SS. She was known as "the Angel of Death,"
"the Blond Beast," "the Queen of Auschwitz" and "the Angel of Hell."

Her real name was Irma Griese. Born in 1921, she was 11 years old when
Adolf Hitler became the German chancellor in January 1933. The Nazi
revolution completely transformed her life. About the time the Nuremberg
Laws were passed in 1935, Irma joined the Bund der Deutsches Maedchen
(Translated: League of German Girls--J.T.), a Nazi version of the USA's
Girl Scouts or UK's Girl Guides.

However, while participating in the Risorgimento of the German Volk, Irma
had a dream. She wanted to be a movie star. When she wasn't involved in
BDM duties, Irma sought out small parts in plays put on by the Deutsches

When World War II broke out in September 1939, Irma immediately joined the
Nazionalsozialistche Deutsches Arbeiterspartei (NSDAP or Nazi Party--J.T.)
and tried to enlist in the SS.

Why the SS? Well, as Walter Schellenberg explained, "the SS 'was already
considered an elite organization. The black-clad uniform of der Fuhrer's
special guard was dashing and elegant.' In the SS one found 'the better
class of people' and membership of it brought considerable prestige and
social advantages."

In Irma's case, she hoped that her SS rank would bring her into contact
with the Party leadership, in particular Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's
minister of propaganda and the undisputed master of the German cinema.

The Auschwitz camp originally opened in 1940 as a slave-labor camp for the
newly-built I.G. Farben artificial rubber factory. By the end of 1941, it
held 18,000 prisoners. It came under the jurisdiction of the
Allegemeine-SS (Sort of an All-Purpose SS--J.T.), and Irma was assigned as
a guard in the female barracks.

In March 1942, Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler visited the camp and
ordered a five-fold expansion of the facility, including a whole new camp,
twice the size of the original, at Birkenau, a village 5 kilometers (3
miles) away.

In 1943, "Irma, then 22, a blue-eyed and bosomy blonde" became known as
"the Auschwitz Angel of Death. As cruel as she was lovely, she carried a
whip and gun and used both on the inmates of women's camp she supervised."

"She often accompanied Mengele on inspection tours of the women's quarters
and helped him make gas chamber selections there." Whenever Mengele's
infamous roving "eye lingered on a young and pretty prisoner, Irma was
certain to choose this girl for a trip to the 'bathhouses.'"

"Irma had many other lovers, including SS officers and prisoners of both
genders." Irma seemed determined to explore the sexual avant-garde long
before she got to Cinecitta or Hollywood. "She frequently enjoyed
homosexual relations with prisoners and then sent them to their deaths."

Several Auschwitz memoirs make mention of Rachelle, "a brunette blovoca
(block leader--J.T.)" who was "one of her favorites" and who "survived for
a long time before Irma tired of her."

It was a lesbian lovers' quarrel with a lethal outcome. When the shouting
match ended, Irma sent Rachelle back to barracks and then added her name to
the next day's "selection" list.

"On another occasion," Irma "picked for her lover a tall, swarthy prisoner
from Soviet Georgia. The muscular Georgian had been assigned to a male
work detail in the women's camp. Calling him into her office, Irma made it
clear what she wanted. But he turned her down."

"Enraged, Irma summoned his girl friend, a pretty Polish teenager, and made
him watch while she stripped and lashed the terrified youngster. Then she
had the Georgian shot and the girl sent to the Auschwitz brothel, from
which she eventually graduated to the laboratory of Doctor Death."

Through it all, Irma never once abandoned her dream of becoming a film
actress. "When not engaged in sex and sadism, Irma spent most of her time
grooming herself and practicing seductive gestures before the full-length
mirror in her room."

Midway through 1943, Marshal Petain's government in France began rounding
up Jews in surprise raids, holding them at the Drancy camp and then
shipping them on to Auschwitz. The French police had conducted such late-
evening raids before, but now they were no longer distinguishing between
Jews born in France and Jewish refugees who were in France because of the
war. Anyone wearing the yellow star with its logo Juif was fair game for
the transports.

Hundreds of women, who'd been arrested at the Opera in Paris, were forced
to shed their fine clothing and expensive shoes before the long march to
the "showers." Watching the pile of discarded clothes climb toward the
ceiling, Irma acted as if Santa Claus had come early that year. She helped
herself to anything that took her fancy.

"She favored black lace lingerie, exotic French perfumes and form-fitting
uniforms. Her closets were crammed with exclusive creations from the
fashion salons of Paris, Vienna and Berlin. She had her own dress
designer, a Madame Grete who had run a fashion house in Vienna, and as many
seamstresses and personal maids as she desired. And she kept them all busy
night and day. If their work failed to please, they were promptly
transferred to the gas chambers."

During this period, Himmler had a girl of the Antarktisches
Seidlungensfrauen (Translated: Antarctic Settlement Women or ASF)
dispatched to Auschwitz. Irma took a fancy to the sky-blue jacket and
skirt because "it matched her eyes. She carried her silver-handled whip in
one of her gleaming black boots." She simply transferred her Allegemeine-SS
runes and insignia to the ASF garb and made it her personal uniform.

In 1944, the inevitable happened, and "the bisexual blonde became
pregnant." Irma nearly panicked. She could see her film career going down
the tubes. The SS would send her off to one of Himmler's Lebensborn farms
to have the baby. She'd never get the opportunity to meet Dr. Goebbels and
charm him into casting her in a movie.

So the following day, Irma walked into the Auschwitz women's medical clinic
and cornered Prisoner Number 25404- -Dr. Gisela Perl. "I have watched you
operate, and I have perfect confidence in you as a doctor," she whispered
to the terrified physician. "I want you to examine me. I think I may be
pregnant. I'll be back again at this time tomorrow. Make certain no one
else is here."

Dr. Perl knew who Irma Griese was. Who in Auschwitz didn't? She also
thought Irma was quite insane. Often, while performing a mastectomy, she
had looked up from the operating table to see Irma watching with morbid

The next day, Dr. Perl had the area all prepared. She instructed Irma to
undress and put her feet in the stirrups. But as she turned back to her
patient, Dr. Perl shuddered. Irma held a Walther pistol aimed at the
physician's heart.

"One word...one shout...any noise at all, and I will kill you," Irma said,
her voice a whisper. "It would be a mercy. You know what they'll do to
you if they find you touching me."

Dr. Perl needed no such reminder. If they were to be caught in such a
compromising position, Irma would be sent to a straflager (punishment camp
for SS personnel--J.T.), and she would be joining the long line to the gas

Dr. Perl performed an examination. Bad news for Irma--the rabbit
died. Irma clenched her teeth but somehow managed to avoid one of her
trademark tantrums. She told the doctor: "Get on with it."

For Dr. Perl, this was the most horrifying experience of her life. She
tried to ignore everything around her-- the ever-present danger of
discovery, the running footsteps outside, Irma's pistol pointed at her--and
concentrate on the procedure. Her skilled hands seemed to move with a life
of their own.

Slightly dazed by the anesthetic, Irma prattled on about her future
plans. "I'm going into films after the war. First I'll sign a contract
with UFA (German film company--J.T.). Maybe after that I'll go to Rome. I
suppose I'll have to learn English before I go to Hollywood." And then,
even more dreamily, "What shall I wear to the Oscars? What should I say to
Bette Davis?" (Editor's Note: Like Field Marshal Hermann Goering, Irma
didn't seem to comprehend that the Allies planned to destroy the NSDAP root
and branch after the war.)

After the abortion was over, still in a semi-doze, Irma remarked, "You're a
good doctor. The Reich needs good doctors."

Then she got up, dressed quickly and left the clinic without another word.

Dr. Perl sank to her knees, uttering a strangled gasp. Indeed, she was a
bit surprised to find her sanity still intact after that nerve-wracking

While the Battle of the Bulge raged in the Ardennes in December 1944,
Himmler sent his Sonderkommandos into Auschwitz to rescue Mengele, Irma and
the rest of the guards and to destroy every single building, especially the
crematoria. Irma returned with her unit to Germany and remained there
until the war ended.

Following VE Day, May 8, 1945, Allied occupation forces in Germany were
under orders to arrest all members of the SS. Irma was caught in the
dragnet, just like Himmler himself. But while the Reichsfuhrer-SS
committed suicide, Irma wound up in Nuremberg, standing trial before the
International Military Tribunal.

Too many prisoners had keen memories of the blond "Angel of Death" and her
whip and her distinctive sky-blue uniform. Irma had made herself too
memorable. Their testimony was damning, and Irma was sentenced to death.

"Irma often boasted that she would become a movie star after the war. But
the only postwar drama in which she starred was her execution."

And so, in 1946, Irma, now 25, stunningly attired in the red jacket of a
condemned Nuremberg prisoner, was dragged kicking and screaming to the
gallows. Seeing the U.S. Army Signal Corps camera crew setting up, Irma
covered the seat of her skirt with both hands and hollered, "No! Not from
that angle! That's my bad side!"

She kept up her babbling tirade even as the executioners put the noose
around her neck and pulled the black hood over her head. "Why are you
doing this to me!? I didn't start the war! I'm an actress!"

The trap swung open with a sudden dreadful finality.

And that was the end of Irma Griese, wannabe actress, Dr. Mengele's
occasional girl friend, and the woman who personally oversaw the
"processing" of 45,000 female prisoners at Auschwitz. Forgotten today,
Irma left but one item in her filmography...Fox Movietone newsreel - 1946.

(See the books Hitler's Heirs by Paul Meskil, Pyramid Books, New York,
N.Y., 1961, pages 32 through 34; Holocaust: A History by Deborah Dwork and
Robert Jan van Pelt, W.W. Norton & Co., New York, N.Y., 2002, pages 305,
306, 307, 358 through 361; Hitler's Shadow War by Donald M. McKale, Cooper
Square Press, New York, N.Y., 2002, pages 296, 297, 298, 336 and 337; and
Himmler's Crusade by Christopher Hale, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, N.J.,
2003, page 58.)

// Bild på Irma Griese och Janis Kapinsky ( Abu Ghraib, Bagdad ) / ( Lookalikes )