book cover done with human skin

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Maximilien30
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Post by Maximilien30 » 27 Jun 2007 04:16

I know there where many "collector items" done for some rare SS (as Himmler) such as book cover done with human skin and stuff like that. I know that at least one doctor of the death camp collected tatoo from the prisoners (framed). I personaly never read anything or had any information about "furniture" like talked about in that thread.
Thoses attrocity have been reported many time in many book and are also documented in the hollocost file...
Sorry for my bad English.
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HaEn
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old stuff

Post by HaEn » 29 Jun 2007 16:00

So what's the point of digging up the cadaver ?
HN

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Habu
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Post by Habu » 06 Jul 2007 20:07

Max, when considering such practices as the collecting of tattoos or anthropodermic bibliopegy (the technical term for book bindings made of human skin) it is important to keep in mind that this was not a practice exclusively of the SS, or camp personnel. The practice of anthropodermic bibliopegy extends back hundreds of years prior to the Third Reich, as does the collection of tattoos. It seems to have been seen as a curiosity, much as today we might collect fossils or similar. At one time, for example, some medical texts were bound in human skin, as were items as diverse as ledgers and court transcripts.

While we know that some tattoos were collected and preserved, examples of anthropodermic bibiopegy from the Third Reich are unknown, as are examples of furniture or lampshades made of human skin. At best, this is an urban legend; it is more likely an atrocity tale intended to make the claimed practitioners look even worse than they were. Many of the people who were claimed to have done this were bad enough without the need for bizarre stories.

As you start researching such events, try to keep an open mind, but focus on what can be proven.

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Post by David Thompson » 06 Jul 2007 21:38

Habu -- You wrote:
While we know that some tattoos were collected and preserved, examples of anthropodermic bibiopegy from the Third Reich are unknown, as are examples of furniture or lampshades made of human skin. At best, this is an urban legend; it is more likely an atrocity tale intended to make the claimed practitioners look even worse than they were. Many of the people who were claimed to have done this were bad enough without the need for bizarre stories.

I don't think this is true. See, for example, the deathbed confession of Franz Ziereis, and the findings of both an American military tribunal and a West German court in the case of Ilse Koch (expressing "no doubt that human skin lampshades had been made," at viewtopic.php?p=424011#424011 ):

The Last Words of Franz Ziereis
viewtopic.php?t=14129
Making lamps out of jewis skin
viewtopic.php?t=43277

I think the more important point to make is that these were the practices of a few criminal and aberrant individuals, and not any kind of government policy.

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Post by Habu » 07 Jul 2007 00:30

I'm unaware of any Nazi-era anthropodermic bindings, lampshades, or furniture currently extant,and I have looked. I've been unable to find any verified artifacts made of human skin, etc, other than the preserved tattoos. I would not be surprised if this was done, but I can't prove that it was done.

There are several preserved tattoos, probably the same ones used as evidence in Koch's trial (as seen at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScr ... eKoch.html). These were identified as human skin in a forensic report written by Ruben Cares (copy of the report is available at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... nsic.html; this was apparently sourced from Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume 6, pp. 123-124). But no lampshades etc were introduced into evidence at trial, and there appears to be no report from Dr. Cares or other pathologists identifying such artifacts as being of human origin.

The second photograph down, at the earlier-cited http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScr ... eKoch.html shows a number of alleged tattoos (personally, I'm inclined to think they are tattoos, but the photo is insufficiently clear and no pathologist report seems to have surfaced), some alleged shrunken heads (apparently no longer extant, and no pathologist's report has been found), and the lampshade allegedly made from human skin (again, apparently no-longer extant, and no pathologist's report to be found). A shrunken head was introduced into evidence at the Koch trial but no evidence was offered that it was actually a human head. (At various times, faking shrunken heads for the tourist trade was a minor industry in various parts of the world; these may have been actual human heads shrunken in Germany, actual human heads collected elsewhere, or fakes from one source or another.) It appears that at one trial, or possibly both, a lampshade was displayed but not entered into evidence. Was the lampshade human skin? Who knows? Where is it now?

There are a number of accounts of the collection of tattoos, the lampshades, etc, including the one you referred to at The Last Words of Franz Ziereis viewtopic.php?t=14129 Let's look at this one first. Its not the actual last words of Ziereis, but rather an affidavit of a second-hand account of those last words from a witness, Hans Marsalek, made almost eleven months after the fact. For this reason alone I must be skeptical of the claims made; we have to trust his memory (although he may have made notes), and rely on him not having been influenced by the media reports.

Marsalek claimed that Zeireis said that:

Chemielskwy and Seidler, in Gusen had human skin specially tanned on which there were tattoos. From this leather they had books bound, and they had lampshades and leather cases made.


However, none of these artifacts are known today, or even if they ever existed.

Next, let us look at the Koch trial. Numerous claims have been made that Frau Koch had various items made of human skin: a lampshade(s), the cover of a family album, and even a shrunken head she used for a paperweight. During her trial, evidence was presented in the form of 1) preserved tattoos; and 2) a shrunken head. As far as I can tell, the tattoos were never proven to be Koch's, and it was never established the shrunken head was hers, or that it was human.

During Koch's second trial (by a German court), the court said that

The court found no proof that anyone at Buchenwald had been murdered for his tattooed skin, but it expressed no doubt that skin lampshades had been made and that human heads had been shriveled and preserved at the camp.

(cited at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... /skin.html)

But again, forensic reports seem to be missing or to never have existed, and no extant examples can be found. Numerous witnesses are cited at the above website, and apparently the German court felt it was established that at some point lamp shades had been made, but they don't appear to have been introduced into evidence at any trial.

As a researcher, I find this very very frustrating. I can prove that, for whatever reason, tattoos at least were collected. I suspect but have no evidence beyond some witness testimonies that lampshades and other artifacts including bookbindings may have been made (and I suspect much of the witness testimony might be ruled inadmissable as hearsay). That testimony can be contrasted with the testimony of Georg Konrad Morgen, the SS judge who convicted and sentenced to death Karl Otto Koch, and tried to convict Frau Koch. He said despite his best efforts he was unable to find any artifacts made of human skin etc in the quarters of the Kochs.

On a personal level, I find it all frustrating because part of my family disappeared into the camps; when I set aside my objectivity, I find myself capable of believing anything of the administration of the camps. The only way I can deal with this is from the perspective of available evidence--and I just don't see it here.

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Post by David Thompson » 07 Jul 2007 04:58

Habu -- Thank you for your courteous and thoughtful reply. You wrote:
But again, forensic reports seem to be missing or to never have existed, and no extant examples can be found. Numerous witnesses are cited at the above website, and apparently the German court felt it was established that at some point lamp shades had been made, but they don't appear to have been introduced into evidence at any trial.

As a researcher, I find this very very frustrating. I can prove that, for whatever reason, tattoos at least were collected. I suspect but have no evidence beyond some witness testimonies that lampshades and other artifacts including bookbindings may have been made (and I suspect much of the witness testimony might be ruled inadmissable as hearsay). That testimony can be contrasted with the testimony of Georg Konrad Morgen, the SS judge who convicted and sentenced to death Karl Otto Koch, and tried to convict Frau Koch. He said despite his best efforts he was unable to find any artifacts made of human skin etc in the quarters of the Kochs.

On a personal level, I find it all frustrating because part of my family disappeared into the camps; when I set aside my objectivity, I find myself capable of believing anything of the administration of the camps. The only way I can deal with this is from the perspective of available evidence--and I just don't see it here.

I share your frustration. It's difficult to get copies of the original documents without going to a great deal of trouble and expense, Fortunately, some of them are starting to appear on the internet.

In the KL Buchenwald (Ilse Koch) case, this problem presents two questions: (1) Were there human skin artifacts?; and (2) If so, was there evidence that Ilse Koch was responsible for their manufacture? As we've both observed, the reviewing judges thought the answer to (1) was yes. Opinions differ about the answer to (2). Unfortunately, we out here in net-land don't have access to the evidence.

Here's something on the subject you may not have seen -- I only saw it a few weeks ago, thanks to a link posted by nickterry. These are some excerpts from the Review and Recommendations of the Deputy Judge Advocate for War Crimes in the main Buchenwald Trial, dated 15 November 1947, on the human artifacts issue. This and other reviews on the trials conducted by the US military tribunals are available online, in pdf format, at: http://www.hhs.utoledo.edu/dachau/
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Last edited by David Thompson on 07 Jul 2007 05:13, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by David Thompson » 07 Jul 2007 05:00

Part 2:
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Post by David Thompson » 07 Jul 2007 05:02

Part 3 (Accused No. 21 was Buchenwald camp commander Hermann Pister):
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Post by David Thompson » 07 Jul 2007 05:31

Habu -- You also wrote:
There are a number of accounts of the collection of tattoos, the lampshades, etc, including the one you referred to at The Last Words of Franz Ziereis viewtopic.php?t=14129 Let's look at this one first. Its not the actual last words of Ziereis, but rather an affidavit of a second-hand account of those last words from a witness, Hans Marsalek, made almost eleven months after the fact. For this reason alone I must be skeptical of the claims made; we have to trust his memory (although he may have made notes), and rely on him not having been influenced by the media reports.

The form of the affidavit -- particularly the wording and detail -- suggests to me that Marsalek made contemporaneous stenographic notes of the statements of Ziereis, and relied upon them to put together his later affidavit. I don't see how he could have credibly produced it from memory, and there's no indication that he did. Since we have no additional detail on the point at this time, I'm reserving my skepticism until we have more information.

Unfortunately, the only information available to researchers relying on the internet are documents which other researchers graciously scan and post. That process is slow. Hopefully we can get more details to clear up these and other questions over the next few years.

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Post by Habu » 07 Jul 2007 17:08

David, thanks for the links. I have paper copies of some of this, but other information is stuff I've been trying to locate for 20 years . . . the passage of time and the influence of the internet is making a great deal of information available that was very difficult to access in the past.

The Marsalek affidavit does make me suspect he took notes at the time Ziereis made his dying statement; if that is the case then the affidavit might have a fairly high level of credibility. The deathbed statement is too coherent, it "flows" too well, to be the actual statement: at a minimum I suspect it was rearranged from notes made at the time, and this leads me to wonder if this was influenced by information that became available after the statement was made (22/23 May 1945). I would be more comfortable relying on the document if it were accompanied by a statement that the affidavit was supported by contemporary notes, and by supporting statements from Siebel, Dr. Koszeinski or the other witness.

I do have access to the complete "Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression" printing and supplements at the University at which I am a student, and hope to get enough information to begin a search for supporting documents . . . but that will have to wait til next Thursday, when I can take the time away from work and other projects!

Again, my thanks David.

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Re: book cover done with human skin

Post by David Thompson » 06 Jul 2008 20:53

Habu -- This New York Times article, published 1 Sept 1945, suggests that the Ziereis notes were contemporaneous, since the transcript was released to newspaper reporters less than 100 days after Ziereis died:
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