Ilse Koch

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

Ilse was made known especially by the accusations of creating diverse objects with the skin of the prisoners characterized by different tattoos .

He is also known by the nickname “The Buchenwald Witch” or the “Buchenwald Bitch” .


He was born in Dresden , the daughter of a peasant. Ilse became secretary of the Nazis and was personally chosen by Heinrich Himmler , SS and Gestapo chief , to marry Karl Koch , his chief assistant. Over time, Karl Koch is appointed commander of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp , built in the vicinity of the capital city.

In 1936 Karl and Ilse got married.

In 1939 , Karl Koch was promoted to Colonel of the Buchenwald concentration camp , one of the first and largest of the Nazi regime. In addition it was also known to test various methods of medical experimentation with the prisoners. Ilse Koch applied various techniques of punishment and torture, earning a reputation as sadistic .

In 1945 , when the troops of the Soviet Union approached , fled to the western side of Germany. Two years later she was captured and imprisoned during the Dachau trials . Although they asked for his execution, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with forced labor.

In 1951 , US General Lucius D. Clay granted him freedom for lack of evidence. As soon as she left prison, she was again arrested, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for other charges. However, the charge of having killed prisoners to make objects with their skin was again dismissed.

The prosecutor who accused him at the trial said:

“Was one of the most sadistic elements of the group of Nazi delinquents.If a scream was heard in the world, it was that of the tortured innocents who died in their hands .

In 1967 , from the prison of Aichach , wrote to his son a letter where he did not show remorse nor the slightest penalty for the crimes that had committed. At sixty-one years Ilse Koch tied several sheets, which he held from the lamp hanging on his bed and hanged himself.

In his last letter he wrote:

“There is no other way out for me, death is the only release .

Cultural connotations

  • In the film Seven Beauties of Lina Wertmüller , the character of the field officer is based on Koch.
  • The film Ilsa, the wolf of the SS of Don Edmons, corresponding to the sort of Nazi exploitation is based on Ilse.
  • In the book The reader of Bernhard Schlink, the personage of Hanna Schmitz keeps certain similarities with Ilse.