Ilse Koch: The “Witch of Buchenwald” was one of the most evil villains of the Holocaust

Ian Harvey
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If you haven’t heard of her yet, let us introduce to you to Ilse Koch, one of the worst villains of the Holocaust, known as the “Witch of Buchenwald.”

Koch joined the Nazi party in 1932 and four years later married the commandant of the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald, Karl-Otto Koch. They lived in an elegant house on Buchenwald’s grounds and seemed like any ordinary couple with three children. However, their marriage and everyday life were far from normal.

Ilse Koch, wife of Karl Koch who was the commandant of the concentration camp at Buchenwald Photo Credit

Ilse was a nymphomaniac who tortured prisoners in the concentration camp. She became known for her evilness and sadistic behavior which she expressed while beating the prisoners and forcing them to perform sexual activities for her amusement.

Besides the relentless torturing of the prisoners, she selected those who had distinctive tattoos and skinned them. Her hobby was collecting lampshades, gloves, and book covers but the items from her collection had a special ‘touch”. She covered the books with the prisoners’ tattooed skin. Some say that she even had a purse made out of human’s tattooed skin and she was especially proud of her collection of cannibalistic trophies, which included prisoners’ organs, as well.


Buchenwald 16th April 1945. A collection of prisoners’ internal organs Photo Credit

Ilse gained many nicknames during her stay at the concentration camps, such as “The Witch of Buchenwald,” “The Concentration Camps’ Killer,” “The Red Witch of Buchenwald,” The Butcher’s Widow:, and the “Bitch of Buchenwald.”

Luckily, she was arrested in 1943 along with her husband. Otto was accused of corruption and stealing vast amounts of valuables and money from the murdered Jews. He was executed by the SS on April 5th, 1945.

Koch Karl   Photo Credit

Ilse was imprisoned until 1944 when she was released due to lack of evidence. However, at the end of the war, she and 30 other workers were arrested on June 30th, 1945, by the U.S. authorities. She was charged with ‘participating in a criminal plan for aiding, abetting and participating in the murders at Buchenwald.’

To escape the prison, she announced to the court that she was pregnant. However, they knew that her husband was dead, so they started suspecting she had love affairs with other workers before and after the death of her husband, for whom she had once claimed to be a homosexual.

Ilse Koch at the U.S. Military Tribunal in Dachau, 1947  Photo Credit

Koch was finally sentenced to imprisonment for violating the laws and customs of war, on August 19th, 1947.

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She committed suicide in 1967, under the delusion that the survived camp prisoners would come and abuse her in her cell. Her body was buried in an unmarked grave in the women’s prison cemetery of Aichach, Germany.