Ilse Koch  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Ilse Koch, born Ilse Köhler (September 22, 1906September 1, 1967), was the wife of Karl Koch, the commandant of the concentration camps Buchenwald from 1937 to 1941 and Majdanek from 1941 to 1943.

Ilse is infamous for taking souvenirs from the skin of murdered inmates with distinctive tattoos. Claims that she had a lampshade made out of human skin have never been verified and were discounted at her post-war trial. She was variously known as "the Witch of Buchenwald" ("Die Hexe von Buchenwald") and "the Bitch of Buchenwald" ("Buchenwälder Schlampe") by the inmates because of her sadistic cruelty and lasciviousness toward prisoners.

In popular culture

The commandant in Lina Wertmüller's film Seven Beauties was based on Koch, as was the title character of the 1974 Nazi exploitation film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS.

Some scholars contend that the character of Hanna Schmitz, played by English actress Kate Winslet in the critically acclaimed film The Reader, is also vaguely based on Ilse Koch. Bernhard Schlink, the author of the novel on which the film is based, has denied this.

Richard Zimler's The Warsaw Anagrams takes place in the Warsaw ghetto in 1940–41. The mystery plot involves a link to Ilse Koch and her murderous activities.

Woody Guthrie wrote "Ilsa Koch", a song about her abuses in Buchenwald, her imprisonment and release; it was recorded by The Klezmatics.

The British label Come Organisation released a noise music compilation Für Ilse Koch (wdc881021) in 1982 featuring bands Nurse With Wound, Consumer Electronics, Etat Brut, Club Moral (wrongly listed as Wiking DDV), Whitehouse and others.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ilse Koch" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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