Ilse Koch may not be as famous as the Holocaust’s ringleaders, but she was every bit as evil. This is the life story of the woman who made lampshades from the skin of her prisoners.

Ilse Koch

Ilse Koch. Image Source: Google Cultural Institute

We’ve written twice before about women who not only survived the Holocaust, but saved the lives of fellow prisoners with their superhuman courage and will to survive. The stories of Gisella Perl and Stanislawa LeszczyƄska highlight one vital aspect of human nature: Our ability to persevere and care for others in even the most harrowing and cruel of circumstances.

But the Holocaust also presented many opportunities for humanity’s terrible dark side to run wild, as well. While Adolf Hitler, Josef Menegle, and Heinrich Himmler are rightly remembered as its figureheads, there were others just as villainous, but their names didn’t quite make the history books.

One of these individuals was Ilse Koch, whose sadism and barbarism would lead to her to receive the nickname The Bitch of Buchenwald.

Abby Norman
Abby Norman
Abby Norman is a writer based in New England. She's currently writing a memoir for Nation Books. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Independent, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Hippocampus Magazine, The Atlantic, The Mary Sue, and Quartz.
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