When working, she wore jack boots, a tight-fitting, custom tailored uniform, carried a Walther .380 on her belt, and walked around with a plaited riding crop in her hand. More than one prisoner (typically female) was beaten to death with that little whip, and she would occasionally draw the Walther and shoot a prisoner at random. As Rapportführerin, (the second-highest rank afforded to women in the SS) she participated in the prisoner selections for the gas chambers. A survivor testified that Irma's presence inspired terror at these selections, and that Irma clearly enjoyed it. A pretty little monster.
During the 53-day trial, the British press dubbed her "the beautiful beast." The inmates in Poland had their own name for her: die hyane von Auschwitz -- the hyena of Auschwitz.
Kind of interesting: She had several lovers among the SS in the camp, including Josef Mengele, apparently.
She was hanged on December 13, 1945 in Hamelin, Germany by the famed British hangman Albert Pierrepoint. (I'll do a piece on him one of these days.) She was 22 years old.
Pierrepoint said she stepped bravely onto the trap and looked casually around. As he slipped the black hood over her head, she smiled a sad smile at him and said, "Schnell." Quickly.
Well... as the Corrections Officer from Hell, I don't really know whether Irma qualifies as a true badass or not, but she was a cold-blooded little killer, and she was tough under adversity, (prison) and she died well. (Interesting that, measuring by this standard, Saddam Hussein makes the list...)
It's all so very sad, and at the same time horrible beyond comprehension. Ultimately, I guess, I'm left with this: Like the man from the Mossad, the guy who snatched Eichmann, told me: "They're here. They're all around you, the ones who will guard the camps and work the ovens... You just don't know who they are yet."