Juana Bormann
Herta Bothe
Irma Grese
Ilse Koch
Maria Mandel
Ilse Koch

During World War 2 the infamous Ilse Koch was known as the Bitch of Buchenwald for her bestial cruelty and sadistic behavior. She was the wife of Karl Koch, the Kommandant of Buchenwald, and struck fear into the inmates daily. 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 .. "

Ilse Koch was tried by an American military tribunal in 1947, found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. But her sentence was reduced to four years and she was soon released. 

Rearrested in 1949, Ilse Koch was tried before a West German court for the killing of German nationals, and on January 15, 1951, she was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.

She committed suicide in a Bavarian prison on September 1, 1967.


More about Ilse Koch:
The Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Nizkor Project
The Jewish Virtual Library
Holocaust Memorial Center
Literature of the Holocaust