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he more you learn about the Nazis, the scarier they become. Though they were only in power for twelve years, the dark legacy they left behind is unparalleled. They’re easily the most infamous political party of all time.

Adolf Hitler was at the center of Nazi Germany, and many consider him to be the ultimate personification of evil. But as strange as it may seem, there were plenty of Nazis who were worse than Hitler.

Whilst they didn’t wield as much power as their notorious leader, these Nazis were so twisted that their crimes are almost beyond comprehension.

1. Ilse Koch

A photograph of Ilse Koch by an unknown photographer, c. 1947
A photograph of Ilse Koch by an unknown photographer, c. 1947 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ilse Koch was a blonde, blue-eyed beauty during her youth. But beneath the elegant exterior, this woman was a psychopath. After joining the Nazi Youth Party, she sold party literature at a bookshop before marrying Karl Koch, a commander in the Schutzstaffel (the SS) with a brutish reputation.

During the war, Ilse lived in a villa beside Buchenwald, a concentration camp near the city of Weimar. Angered by Karl’s sexual exploits with other women, Ilse started to have relations with her husband’s officers, sometimes taking five or six lovers at a time.

Purely for her own amusement, Ilse also sunbathed beside the barbed-wire fence, hoping to tempt the prisoners on the other side. If they looked at her, Ilse would beat them or ask one of the guards to do it for her. But this was tame compared to what came next.

Ilse soon developed an obsession with human skin. She ordered prisoners to be executed, and their skin was used as a material for lampshades. Before long, her villa was full of these lampshades. She also experimented with the prisoners’ severed heads, which she used to decorate her dining room.

When the war was over, Ilse tried to avoid justice by blaming her husband for everything. But this didn’t save her. After being sent to prison, she committed suicide in 1967.

2. Josef Mengele

A photograph of Josef Mengele by an unknown photographer, 1944
A photograph of Josef Mengele by an unknown photographer, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Josef Mengele was intrigued by the Nazis’ eugenics program. Following his years of training at the University of Munich and the University of Frankfurt, he became an official member of the Nazi Party in 1937.

Josef arrived at Auschwitz in 1943 and was soon known as the “Angel of Death”. He loved sending people to the gas chambers and even showed up for selections he wasn’t assigned to. What’s more, he would trick new arrivals by pretending to be gentle before turning savage and sending them to the gas chambers.

However, the study of eugenics was Josef’s real passion. Whilst at Auswitch, his twisted experiments involved the dissection of live infants, the administration of electric shocks, and the castration of men and boys without anesthetic.

Twins were Josef’s favorite subjects. He transferred blood from one twin to another, removed organs (again without anesthetic), and injected dye into their eyes to see if the color would change. This often led to infection and blindness. If anyone died, Josef would pin their eyes to the wall of his office.

In January 1945, Josef fled Germany and traveled to South America with many other Nazis. He died in 1979 after suffering a stroke and drowning at the coastal resort of Bertioga, Brazil.

3. Irma Grese

A photograph of Irma Grese by an unknown photographer, c. 1942–1945
A photograph of Irma Grese by an unknown photographer, c. 1942–1945 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Irma Grese fell victim to the Nazis’ indoctrination techniques during her adolescence. After joining the SS, she underwent training at an all-female concentration camp near Berlin before transferring to Auschwitz in March 1943.

Using a specially-made whip, Irma punished prisoners by gashing open their flesh with a blast of pain. She also stamped on her victims or fed them to her hounds when she was feeling particularly bloodthirsty.

Irma’s sexual habits were equally unsettling. As well as sleeping with her fellow Nazis — including Josef Mengele — she would force the prisoners to have sex with her whilst others watched. Irma also found sexual gratification from the pain she inflicted, relishing in the agony of those who were unfortunate enough to cross her path.

After being captured by the British at the end of the war, Irma was put on trial and sentenced to death. She was executed in December 1945 at the age of twenty-two.

4. Oskar Dirlewanger

A photograph of Oskar Dirlewanger by Anton Ahrens, 1944
A photograph of Oskar Dirlewanger by Anton Ahrens, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Oskar Dirlewanger supported the Nazis long before their rise to power. As well as being a violent anti-Semite, he also supported National Socialism. After years of service, the Nazis made Oskar the commander of his own unit: the Dirlewanger Brigade.

This unit rarely served on the front lines during the war, but they soon established a formidable reputation in Poland and Belarus. Even other SS officers were appalled by their actions. Under Oskar’s command, the Dirlewanger Brigade looted, raped, and murdered wherever they went. They also enjoyed forcing captives into a barn, setting it alight, and then shooting those who tried to escape.

Worst of all, Oskar had a habit of injecting Jewish women with strychnine, a poison that causes muscular convulsions and death by asphyxiation. There were even rumors that he cut up Jewish women and boiled them with horse meat to make soap.

Towards the end of the war, the members of the Dirlewanger Brigade were taken into captivity by the Soviets, but Oskar managed to escape. Thankfully, he was caught soon after and died in a French prison in June 1945.

5. Josef Kramer

A photograph of Josef Kramer by an unknown photographer, 1944
A photograph of Josef Kramer by an unknown photographer, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Josef Kramer worked as a guard at Auschwitz for most of the war and gained notoriety due to his brutality. In December 1944, he was made commandant of Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in the north of Germany.

Here, he was known as the “Beast of Belsen” due to his twisted practices. Prisoners were beaten to a pulp, hung from large hooks, and suspended by their arms for hours at a time. This was bad enough, but the conditions inside the camp were even more terrifying.

The stench of death was everywhere. Corpses piled high as typhus and dysentery spread throughout the prisoners’ barracks. Those who were still alive resembled skeletons, their bodies disfigured by sores and bullet marks. When the British troops broke into the camp in April 1945, they couldn’t believe what they were witnessing. Josef had created an environment that some described as hell on earth.

Josef was then brought to trial at a British military court. The evidence against him was absolute, and he was executed in November 1945.

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