Nazi photo album made from HUMAN SKIN of a death camp victim is discovered after collector noticed book cover had ‘a tattoo, human hair and bad smell’
- Gruesome photo album made from skin of Nazi victims found at market in Poland
- It was handed over after buyer noticed cover had ‘human hair’ and ‘a bad smell’
- Museum experts say skin came from inmate murdered at Buchenwald camp
A gruesome WWII photo album made from the skin of Nazi death camp victims has been found at a bric-a-brac antiques market in Poland.
The battered WWII album was handed over to staff at the Auschwitz Memorial Museum after the buyer noticed the cover had ‘a tattoo, human hair and a bad smell’.
Museum experts have now analysed the album’s cover and binding and say it is likely that the skin came from an inmate murdered at the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald, in Germany.
They added that it was ‘without doubt proof of a crime against humanity.’
The WWII photo album (pictured) was made from the skin of Nazi death camp victims, according to museum experts
The photo album pictured with a notebook. The battered WWII album was handed over to staff at the Auschwitz Memorial Museum after the buyer noticed the cover had ‘a tattoo, human hair and a bad smell’
Experts say the book is ‘without doubt proof of a crime against humanity’
Set up in 1937 as Hitler’s first concentration camp, Buchenwald gained notoriety for its executions, experiments, bestial conditions and the depravity of its guards.
Among them was Ilse Koch, known to inmates as the ‘Bitch of Buchenwald’, who later became the inspiration for the character of Nazi camp guard Hanna Schmitz in the award-winning film The Reader starring Kate Winslet.
The wife of camp commandant Karl-Otto Koch, Ilse Koch is said to have had male prisoners with interesting tattoos murdered and then had their skin turned into interior designs.
Her interests included lampshades, books, albums, table covers and thumbs which were used as light switches.
Witnesses say she was helping Nazi doctor Erich Wagner who collected human skin at the camp for his PhD thesis.
From the 100-odd skins Wagner harvested, many were turned into gift items.
After being captured by American troops at the end of the war, he escaped and continued to practice medicine in Germany under a pseudonym until his recapture in 1958.
He committed suicide a year later.
According to accounts by Buchenwald survivors, human skin was treated as material for the production of everyday objects, including book bindings and wallets.
Former inmate Karol Konieczny recalled: ‘I bound things in covers received from my colleagues from the camp bookbinding workshop.
Ilse Koch (pictured) was known to inmates as the ‘Bitch of Buchenwald’, and later became the inspiration for the character of Nazi camp guard Hanna Schmitz in the award-winning film The Reader starring Kate Winslet
A collection of Buchenwald prisoners’ internal organs including two human heads remains (upper left) and also examples of tattooed skins (foreground)
‘Of course, as one can easily guess, the covers were made of human skins, which came from the ‘resources’ of the SS.
‘The idea was to secure documents of Nazi bestiality and genocide.’
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.’
Despite the evidence against her, ‘The Bitch of Buchenwald’ was acquitted of the charges at the Nuremberg trials.
As part of their analysis, museum researchers carried out a comparative analysis with a notebook in their collection, also made from the skin of Holocaust victims.
Ilse Koch at the Nuremberg Trials. Despite the evidence against her, ‘The Bitch of Buchenwald’ was acquitted of the charges at the trials
Cajzer said: ‘The comparative analysis revealed the content of human skin and very similar amounts of polyamide 6 and polyamide 6.6.
‘The content of polymers used for the production of synthetic fibres is all the more important because they were invented no later than in 1935.
‘The information allows us to determine when the cover was created. During the Second World War, polyamides were a technical novelty, and access to them was limited.’
The album contained over 100 photos and postcards, consisting mainly of views and panoramas.
According to the museum’s research, the album originally belonged to a Bavarian family that ran a guest-house in a health resort town during WWII.
It was most likely given to the owners as a gift by a guard at the Buchenwald camp.