A photo album made from the skin of a Nazi extermination camp prisoner was spotted by a collector who noticed the cover had a ‘tattoo, human hair and a bad smell’.
They bought it at an antiques market in Poland before handing it to staff at the Auschwitz Memorial Museum who say it is ‘without doubt proof of a crime against humanity’.
Analysts suspect the album was made using the skin of an inmate murdered at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany – notorious for its executions and cruel human experiments.
Ilse Koch, wife of camp commandant Karl-Otto Koch, is believed to have ordered the killing of male prisoners with interesting tattoos before using their skin to make lampshades, albums and table covers.
‘The Bitch of Buchenwald’, as she was often known, even used human thumbs to make light switches.
Her depraved interest was supposedly in the aid of Nazi doctor Erich Wagner, who was working on a dissertation on tattooing and criminality.
She made so many human skin accessories that she also came to be known as ‘The Lady of the Lampshade’.
But she was not the only Nazi to harvest the remains of human beings to make things.
German textile manufacturers and other industries benefited from the hair and other parts of inmates at Auschwitz, Majdanek, and Treblinka.
Ilse Koch was thought to have been given free reign of Buchenwald, sexually abusing prisoners and whipping them as she rode past on her horse.
Her husband was hanged in 1944 and she was sentenced to life in prison in 1947 following the Nuremberg war crimes trials.
The military governor of the US controlled part of post-war Germany reduced her sentence to just four years in 1948 due to ‘lack of evidence’ of her using human body parts.
But after huge public pressure she was re-arrested the following year, trialled in west Germany and sentenced to life before she hanged herself in 1967.
Remarking on the photo album which she was likely to have made, head of the Auschwitz Museum Collections, Elzbieta Cajzer, said: ‘The research suggests that it is very likely that both covers, owing to their technology and composition, came from the same bookbinding workshop.
‘The use of human skin as a production material is directly associated with the figure of Ilse Koch, who, along with her husband, inscribed her name in history as the murderer from the camp in Buchenwald.’
Another notebook made from the skin of Holocaust victims is also kept by the museum. They say the synthetic fibres used for both books were invented no later than 1935, reports MailOnline.
The newly discovered album contained more than 100 postcards and photos showing mainly views and panoramas.
It is thought to have been given as a gift to Bavarain family who managed a guest-house by a guard at Buchenwald during the war.
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