Helene Grese: Evidence for the Defendant Irma Grese



HELENE GRESE, sworn, examined by Major CRANFIELDI am the sister of Irma Grese, 20 years old, and live at Wrecken in Wreckensburg. My father was an agricultural worker, and I have two sisters and two brothers. My mother died in 1936. When she was 14 years old, my sister Irma worked on the farm of a peasant in a village near where we lived. From the time that she entered the Concentration Camp Service I saw her twice. In 1943 she came home on leave, and the only thing she told us about her work was that her duties consisted in supervising prisoners so that they should not escape. I saw her when she left Auschwitz in 1945, and she told me that she had been working for a considerable period in a sort of a post office, receiving and distributing mail, and that sometimes she had been detailed to guard duties.

From your knowledge of your sister, do you think her a person likely to beat the prisoners under her charge? – No. In our schooldays when, as it sometimes happens, girls were quarrelling and fighting, my sister had never the courage to fight, but on the contrary she ran away.

Cross-examined by Colonel BACKHOUSE – When your sister went to work on the farm when she was 14, how long did she stay there? – About six months to a year.

Where did she go from there? – She went to Hohenlychen as a sort of nurse, and then to a small dairy in Fürstenberg, where she worked, I believe, twelve to eighteen months.

Did she go straight from there into the S.S.? – Yes, in 1942 she went to Ravensbrück, which was very near us.

How long before 1943 was it since you had seen your sister? – In spring, 1942, when she was working in the dairy.

When she came home in 1943, did your father give her a thrashing? – I did not see that, but he was quarrelling with her because she was in the S.S.

Did he forbid her to come to the house again? – I do not know. She never came again.

Was not that because she told you what she did at Ravensbrück? – I do not know why.

You would be 16 at that time; you never asked your sister what she was doing in the concentration camp, and she never told you? – She told us she was supervising the prisoners working inside the compound, and she had to see that they were doing their work well and that they did not escape. We asked her: “What do the prisoners get for food, and why have they been sent to a concentration camp?” and she answered that she was not allowed to talk to the prisoners and did not know what sort of food they got.

Why did your father lose his temper with her? – Because he was very much against her being in the S.S. We all wanted to belong to the Bund Deutscher Mädchen, but he never allowed us to do so. I have not seen my father since April, 1945.


War Crimes Trials – Vol. II The Belsen Trial. ‘The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty Four Others’


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