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On January 15, 1951, Ilse Koch, wife of the commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp, is sentenced to life imprisonment in a court in West Germany. Ilse Koch was nicknamed the "Witch of Buchenwald" for her sadistic treatment of prisoners.
Born in Dresden, Germany, Ilse, a librarian, married SS Colonel Karl Koch in 1936. Colonel Koch, a man with his own reputation for sadism, was the commandant of the Sashsenhausen concentration camp, two miles north of Berlin. He was transferred after three years to Buchenwald, which held a total of 20,000 slave laborers during the war. Ilse was given free reign throughout the camp, whipping prisoners with her riding crop as she rode by on her horse, forcing prisoners to have sex with her, and, most horrifying, collecting lampshades, book covers, and gloves made from the skin of tattooed camp prisoners. Karl Koch was arrested by his SS superiors for having gone too far. It seems he had a penchant for stealing even the belongings of wealthy, well-placed Germans. He was tried and executed in 1944. Ilse Koch was tried for crimes against humanity at Nuremberg and sentenced to life in prison, but the American military governor of the occupied zone subsequently reduced her sentence to four years. His reason, "lack of evidence," caused a Senate investigation back home. She was released but arrested again, tried by a West German court, and sentenced to life. She committed suicide in 1967.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. The book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link: