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lse Koch was the wife of Karl Otto Koch, commander of the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, but the drunkenness of power made her more famous than her husband. The “Buchenwald bitch,” as the sadistic chief of guards was called by the prisoners of the camp, orchestrated the most obscene tortures, a very obscure one being the collection of tattooed skin of death row inmates, from which she made lampshades.

On April 11, 1945, American soldiers entered the Nazi camp at Buchenwald and froze. Today, 68 years after the holocaust, those horrific images are preserved as a testimony to the most sadistic historical injustices. An estimated 56,000 people have died in Buchenwald. Jews, political prisoners, prisoners of war, gypsies, and homosexuals.

There were 34,375 deaths in the camp files. Soviet prisoners of war missing, shot in the back of the head, Gestapo prisoners killed in Buchenwald crematorium missing, victims of Eastern camp evacuation convoys missing, and Nazi evacuation victims missing in the spring of 1945 death marches.

Ilse Koch took part in the Nazi Party

Ilse Koch and Karl Otto Koch (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ilse Koch joined the Nazi Party in 1932, and in 1934 she married Karl Otto Koch, with whom she settled, in 1936, near Berlin. He was the commander of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, and she was a guard and secretary. In 1937, the two came to lead the Buchenwald camp. Ilse remained here until August 23, 1943, and, in the meantime, gained unfortunate fame. She was called the “Witch of Buchenwald,” a name that naturally transformed into “The Bitch of Buchenwald ” because of her extraordinary sadism.

Survivors say the young SS member was walking completely naked, with a whip in her hand, among the detainees in the camps, and if anyone blinked or turned their head, they would be shot on the spot. After the release from the camp, it was discovered that Ilse Koch was the one who ordered the death of several detainees who had tattoos to use their skin for various handicrafts.

Buchenwald Human Remains (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

On August 24, 1943, Ilse Koch and her husband were arrested on the orders of Josias von Waldeck-Pyrmont, the head of the SS and Weimar Police. They were accused of obtaining undue benefits from the detainees’ fortunes, embezzlement, and killing several prisoners to prevent them from testifying. However, Ilse was acquitted due to lack of evidence, and the former camp commander was executed in April 1945.

Concentration camp atrocities trial

Ilse was arrested again by the Americans on June 30, 1945. She was referred, along with thirty other Nazis, to the Tribunal. An American soldier from Dachau, being accused of participating in a criminal plan of supporting and participating in the Buchenwald crimes, talked about her position in the camp as well as her sadistic actions.

At the 1947 trial, Ilse Koch was shocked by saying that she was pregnant, although the prison regime was one of isolation, unable to interact with any men except the investigators. Indeed, Ilse Koch was in her eighth month of pregnancy. However, her promiscuity was notorious, with rumors that the torturer had relations with the chief of doctors at Dachau, SS Captain Waldemar Hoven, with her husband’s deputy, Hermann Florstedt, with other SS officers, and even with certain detainees.

Ilse Koch at the trial of former camp personnel and prisoners from Buchenwald. (Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

On August 19, 1947, Ilse Koch was sentenced to life in prison, but her sentence was reduced to four years in prison on the grounds that there is no convincing evidence that she selected detainees for extermination in order to collect tattooed skin, or that she has in possession of objects made of human skin. Under the pressure of public opinion, Ilse Koch was given the final verdict on January 15, 1951.

The court’s decision had 111 pages of reasons. On September 1, 1967, the torturer was hanged in the Aichach Women’s Prison. She was sixty years old. On April 11, 1945, starving prisoners stormed the watchtowers in an attempt to gain control of the camp. In the afternoon of the same day, the 89th Infantry Division of the United States entered Buchenwald. More than 20,000 people were found in the concentration camp.

The Americans who witnessed the terrible discoveries were so impressed that they ordered the people of Weimar to visit the camp to see the Nazi horrors with their own eyes.

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