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Erika McKitrick

Mrs. Jardine and Mr. Taylor

World History and English

22 January, 2018

Female Spies and Female SS guards.

During World War ll the world watched in terror as Germany took over Europe.

While the war raged, what about the women SS guards who helped control the

concentration camps? What about the female spies who risked their lives to sabotage

the Nazis? Two groups of women fighting against each other in their own way. The

genocide of the Jews, gypsies, those that were politically against the Nazis, and

homosexuals during World War ll. Even after the war, did genocide ever really stop after

the Holocaust? Did countries learn from Germany's mistake of genocide of the Jews? In

this essay we will explore these topics.

First off, the female SS guards, were they able to join the SS out of their own free

will or were they forced to? To answer this, the female SS guards were not forced to join

to become SS guards. On the contrary, they were allowed to volunteer or were enlisted

to become SS guards during 1944. Even though Hitler said a woman's role was to stay

at home to take care of the children, he changed his mind because towards the end of

the war there was a shortage of male SS guards. (Cline) . The female population of SS

guards was small compared to the male SS guards. Was a total of 55,000 SS guards

versus only 3,700 women SS guards that were enlisted or volunteered.( Auschwitz-


The age limit to be a female SS guard was seventeen to forty years old.(“Female
guards”) At the concentration camps these females were sent to the women barracks

and their job description was to punish the prisoners of these horrid concentration

camps. When they punished the prisoners, the women were more violent than the men

and they were more cross. These females positions in Germany’s military were as

followed: the Overseer, Chief Senior Overseer, Camp Leader, Senior Overseer, Report

Leader, First Guard, and more. They did have less authority than the men by status.


Why would these women volunteer for such an violent job? The reason why they

could of volunteered for this violent job was because all these women had little or no

formal education and so very few options for employment. These women also were in

lower or bottom of middle class before joining to be an SS guard. Through this job

position they could gain a better status and income in Germany and it didn’t require an

education. Some of these women who were SS guards were the most brutal out of any

SS guards and took advantage of their status in the concentration camps.(Harvey)

After the war though, the female SS guards were in a rude awakening. While the

camps were liberated, 500 to 1,000 females were investigated. Only a few were tried for

committing the most heinous crimes against the Jews. After these investigations female

SS guards went to prison for 1, 5, and 10 years. Some were executed soon after their

trial. For instance, Ana Hempel was sentenced to 10 years because of her violent acts

towards the prisoners.(Harvey) Even though these female SS guards made huge

injustices to humanity, we can still learn from this horrid part of history. We always have

a choice to make things better than what it was no matter the conditions.

What about the heroes of World War ll who helped? These brave female spies
who were to sabotage the Axis of Evil. Two of the most famous organizations are the

SOE and the OSS. OSS stands for Office of Strategic Services, this is an American

Organization that was created during 1941. This organization was created because

President Roosevelt wanted to change the role of the COI.(What Was OSS?) The SOE

was a British organization for the spies. SOE is known as the Special Operation

Executive. SOE was given a task by Winston Churchill “to set Europe ablaze”(Trueman)

and to help the French Resistance. To undermine the Germans in the countries they

have occupied. (Trueman)

Some of the women who joined the OSS were Virginia Hall and Amy Elizabeth

Thorpe.(Pygas) For the SOE, some of these great female heroes were Andree Borrel

and Odette Hallowes. Those were some of the female spies, but what type of missions

were these women in? Since some of this information is classified we do not know

some of these missions, but from these women we have an idea of what happened

when you were a female spy during World War II.

Missions for the OSS spies and SOE had one goal in mind, to sabotage

Germany. The following missions the OSS did were examples of the female agents

duties--helped decode secret messages, and fought alongside the French

resistance(“What is the OSS?”). For instance, Virginia Hall when she joined the OSS in

1944 she helped support the french resistance by getting maps for drop zones. She was

such a well known spy with the Germans they nicknamed her Artemis and The Woman

With a Limp. The reason why she was nicknamed The Woman With a Limp was

because she lost her leg due to hunting and had a wooden prosthesis. Another OSS

spy was Amy Elizabeth Thorpe who’s code name was Cynthia and worked in Vichy,
France for the OSS. Her job was to get secret information from the Nazi’s. (Pygas)

The SOE agents Andree Borrel and Odette Hallowes showed what would have

happened if a spy was caught by the enemy. During 1943 she was second in command

of a local network. During the war a few others and Andree Borrel were arrested for

attacking a power station. She did not say anything in interrogation as why she attacked

the power station. Therefore, she was sent to a concentration camp to be given a lethal

injection. After she was injected with the lethal injection she was sent to be cremated.

Before she was to be cremated, she woke up from the injection and fought with the

soldiers who were trying to cremate her. Her attempts were futile and she was cremated

alive. (Pygas)

Odette Hallowes mission was to act as an assistant and courier for Peter

Churchill. The operation was infiltrated and they were both arrested and tortured in

Paris, France. From there they were sent to a concentration camp in June, 1943. In the

concentration camp Peter Churchill pretended to be related to Winston Churchill and

acted as if they were a couple. Odette survived the concentration camp. (“Female

Spies”) After the war some of these spies were given medals for courage. For instance,

Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell was given the medals, George Cross and the Croix de

Guerre, in 1946. (Pygas)

These women were brave and a quote from Number the Stars explains about

what bravery is, “He interrupted her, smiling. That’s all that brave means-not thinking

about the dangers. Just thinking about what you must do. Of course you were

frightened. I was too, today. But you kept your mind on what you had to do…”(Lowry

123). These women were brave even when they were frightened.
The Holocaust during World War ll was a huge genocide of the Jews. Even after

the Holocaust did genocide ever stop? Did the world learn from the Holocaust? The

world, unfortunately, didn’t learn that lesson. In Sudan, since 1950 the Arab dominated

the government and tried to control the minorities that lived along the nation’s periphery.

The result was political, religious, and ethnic conflict which led to a South and North civil

war. In this War, 2.5 million civilians were killed. Until they created a peace treaty in

2005 and South Sudan got their independence again in 2011.(Sudan) This is why

genocide never stopped and still continued after the holocaust .

In conclusion, the female SS guards were brutal in the concentration camps, but

in the end got justice for what they did. The female spies risked their lives to help the

french resistance and sabotaged the Nazis to protect Europe. The world didn’t learn the

lesson of genocide even after the holocaust. From this history sometimes it is hard to do

the right thing, but in the end it is worth it. To end this with a quote from Number the Star

says, “... young and old, must be to create an ideal of human decency, and not a

narrow-minded and prejudiced one. That is the great gift our country hungers for,

something every little peasant boy can look forward to, and with pleasure feel he is a

part of- something he can work and fight for.”(Lowry 137) It is important to keep trying.

Work Cited

- "Auschwitz-Birkenau." Polski. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan.


- Cline, Shelly. "Shelly Cline, Ph.D., Details Lives of Nazi Women Guards."

Department of History. N.p., 04 June 2017.


- CN Trueman“Special Operation Executive.”,n.d.Web.26Jan.2018.<http://www.historylearnin

- "Female Spies in World War 1 and World War ll."


- "Female Guards in Nazi Concentration Camps." Female Guards in Nazi

Concentration Camps. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan.


- Ian Harvey"Faces of Evil: Eerie Portraits of Female Guards of Nazi

Concentration Camps Awaiting Trial." The Vintage News. N.p., 04 Nov.

2016. Web. 21 Jan.


- Mailander Elissa "The Violence of Female Guards in Nazi Concentration

Camps (1939-1945): Reflections on the Dynamics and Logics of Power."




- Mark Pygas"10 Amazing Female Spies Who Brought Down The Nazis.",n.d.05Sep.2013Web.26Jan.2018.<

- "Sudan.",n.d.Web.30Jan.2018.https://www.ushmm.o

- Lois Lowry, Larche, Douglas W., and Susan Elliott. Larche, . Number the

Stars. Woodstock, IL: Dramatic Pub., 1996. Print.

- “What is the OSS?",n.d.Web.<