ARISTOCRATIC DISCIPLINARIANS … SS QUEEN OF BUTCHENWALD ILSE KOCH
Ilse Koch was born in Dresden, Germany in 1906. A secretary by profession, Koch joined the Nazi party in 1932. Four years later, she married Karl Otto Koch (1897-1945), head of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, who in 1937 was assigned to build a new concentration camp in Buchenwald. Ilsa went with him and became a SS-Aufseherin (overseer) at the camp.
While Karl Otto was known for his personal greed in the camps he worked in, Ilse was known as the “Bitch of Buchenwald” for her bestial cruelty and sadistic behavior. She was especially fond of riding her horse through the camp, whipping any prisoner who attracted her attention. Her hobby was collecting lampshades, book covers, and gloves made from the skins of specially murdered concentration camp inmates, and shrunken human skulls.
Prisoners’ Tattooed Skin
Ilse Koch would specially select prisoners with distinctive tattoos on her rides around the camp. These prisoners would be killed and their skin tanned and stored for later use by the SS guards.
Her taste for collecting lampshades made from the tattooed skins was described by a witness at The Nuremberg Trials after the war:
“The finished products (i.e. tattooed skin detached from corpses) were turned over to Koch’s wife, who had them fashioned into lampshades and other ornamental household articles ..”
In the book Sidelights on the Koch Affair by Stefan Heymann, the author pointed out that the fact that the Kochs had lamps made of human skin did not distinguish them from the other SS officers. They had the same artworks made for their family homes:
“It is more interesting that Frau Koch had a lady’s handbag made out of the same material. She was just as proud of it as a South Sea island woman would have been about her cannibal trophies ..