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Ilse Koch's Posthumous Rehabilitation Sought by Son By DAVID BINDERMAY - MAY 7, 1971Lilyputian wrote:HelgeHelge wrote:Hereis the photo of Uwe Kohler.
Would it be possible to see a larger copy of that article?
BONN, May 3—“I want to clear my mother's name,” said Uwe Kohler, who is 23 years old and makes a good living selling insurance.
Mr. Kohler's mother was the late use Koch, born Köhler, the convicted war criminal who was the widow of a concen tration‐camp commandant, Karl Koch, and was notorious after World War II as “the Bitch of Buchenwald.”
This spring Uwe Kohler ap proached The New York Times to tell his story, based on ma terial he had assembled from his mother's effects after she committed suicide in 1967 and including an appeal for clemen cy submitted by her lawyer in 1957.
Her son acknowledges that his idea of getting the West German Supreme Court to re view the case and posthumous ly “rehabilitate” her by reduc ing the life sentence imposed in 1950 was “practically hope less.” For that reason, he added, the is seeking a kind of rehabili tation through the press.
“I think that since Ameri cans sentenced her to life and then reduced her sentence to four years, American readers should know her side of the story,” he explained.
Continue reading the main story
The tall, well‐built young man first met his mother in the last year of her life when he was 19, and then only through more or less accidental circumstances.
He was born Oct. 29, 1947, in the hospital attached to Landsberg Prison, where his mother was awaiting trial by an American war crimes tribunal. His father was another German prisoner. Koch had been executed by the Germans.
The boy was removed al most immediately to a Bavarian Ifoster home and it was in fos ter homes that he grew up, not knowing the identity of his parents. At age 8, in 1955, he happened to see his mother's name on his birth certificate and he stored it in his memory.
Eleven years later he saw a headline, “No Pardon for use Koch,” in the Fränkische Landeszeitung in Ansbach, where he was in school. It dawned on him that she could be his mother, a fact he im mediately confirmed with his state‐appointed guardian.
At Christmas time in 1966 he went “with a creepy feel ing” to the Bavarian prison where his mother was serving the life sentence imposed by the Bavarian State Court in 1950. They had what he de scribed as a joyous reunion and he continued to visit her as often as the rules allowed —once a month—until she hanged herself Sept. 1, 1967, three weeks before her 61st birthday.
“I always avoided talking with her about the war,” he recalled. “She always denied h4r guilt and said she was the victim of libels, lies and per jury. I didn't discuss it with her further because it was pain ful for her. I wanted that my mother would have the hope of getting out, and secondly, after two decades in prison, that she have other thoughts.”
“I can't really imagine what it was like then in the war,” he went on. “I am not even convinced she was guiltless. But I feel that she just slithered into the concentration‐camp (world like many others without being able to do anything about it.”
Mr. Kohler contends that his mother got a raw deal be cause the three courts that tried her were not able to as semble evidence establishing that she had committed major crimes.
In 1944, after she had been under investigatory arrest for 16 Months, a special SS (Elite Guard) court suspended charges that she had caused the death of Buchenwald pris oners. Her husband was found guilty and shot.
The SS investigation was au thorized by Heinrich Himmler after he had received reports of a corruption scandal at Buchenwald.
In 1947 a United States military tribunal convicted Mrs. Koch of beating Buchenwald, prisoners and singling out othfi ers for execution. A year later a review board convened by the United States Military Gov ernor, Gen. Lucius D. Clay, concluded that the bulk of the evidence against her had been hearsay and reduced her sen tence from life at hard labor to four years.
On her release in 1949 she was retried by the West Ger mans and sentenced once more to life on two counts of “incite ment to murder” of Buchen wald prisoners.
None of the three courts established any connection be tween Mrs. Koch and the tat tooed skins of Buchenwald in mates that were made into lampshades and other things. But by the time she had gone on trial a third time not even compelling evidence to the contrary could separate her from the allegation that she had or dered prisoners to be killed and skinned because she fancied their tattoos.
Dr. Morgen, who testified against her at all three trials, says today that substantially the same evidence was brought against her in each. In a tele phone interview at his law of fice in Frankfurt, he said that the charges relating to the tat tooed skins were based on pure hearsay.
“She was no innocent angel,” e added. “She was a hussy who rode horseback in sexy under wear in front of the prisoners and then noted down for pun ishment the numbers of those who looked at her. She lay around in her garden in front of prisoners. Simply primitive. But she had nothing to do with the lampshade business and she did not deserve such a draconic punishment. She was a victim of horror stories.”
Source: NY Times
War does not decide who is right but only those who are left.