Ilse Koch Biography

(German War Criminal Who Became One of the First Prominent Nazis Tried by the U.S. Military)

Birthday: September 22, 1906 (Virgo)

Born In: Dresden, Germany

Ilse Koch was the wife of Karl-Otto Koch, the chief of the Nazi concentration camps in Buchenwald and Majdanek. She was one of the first well-known Nazis tried by the U.S. military. The trial was majorly broadcast. While her husband was notorious for his materialist greed, his wife was famous for her inhuman cruelty towards the Jewish. The survivors of nazi camps confirmed her to be a sadisctic woman, “the concentration camp murderess”. She and her husband lived in a luxurious house within the grounds of the Buchenwald camp. Karl-Otto Koch had created a special horseback arena for his wife’s entertainment and she used to ride through the camp and whip any prisoner that came in her way. Ilse Koch was also a nymphomaniac and the couple held orgies for the political soldiers of the Nazi party. She was fond of torturing the prisoners by making them do excruciatingly strenuous tasks. A witness at The Nuremberg Trials confirmed that she used to collect lampshades, book covers and gloves made from the tattooed skins of the dead inmates. The prisoners used to call her ‘Die Hexe von Buchenwald’ (‘The Witch of Buchenwald’) because of her brutality and libidinousness towards prisoners. Her other names include The Beast of Buchenwald", "Queen of Buchenwald", "Red Witch of Buchenwald", "Butcher Widow" , and "The Bitch of Buchenwald".
Quick Facts

German Celebrities Born In September

Also Known As: Margarete Ilse Köhler

Died At Age: 60


Spouse/Ex-: Karl-Otto Koch

children: Artvin Koch, Gisela Koch, Gudrun Koch, Uwe Köhler

War Criminals German Women

Died on: September 1, 1967

place of death: Aichach, Germany

Childhood & Early Life
Ilse Koch was born Margaret Ilse Köhler on 22 September 1906 in Dresden, Saxony, German Empire, as the daughter of a factory supervisor.
Ilse was a happy and carefree child and led a peaceful childhood.
At the age of 15, she started studying in an accountancy school and started her career as a bookkeeping clerk.
In 1932, she became an affiliate of the rising Nazi Party.
In 1934, her friends in the SA and SS introduced her to Karl Otto Koch, head of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
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War Crimes
In 1936, she started working as the guard and secretary at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin.
In 1936, Ilse went with her husband Otto Koch to the newly built concentration camp in Buchenwald near Weimar where she took up the position of a SS-Aufseherin (supervisor).
While at Buchenwald, she was involved in a ghastly experiment when she conducted the murders of selected tattooed prisoners. Their tattooed skin were retrieved which used to help a prison doctor, Erich Wagner (de) in his thesis on tattooing and criminality.
In 1940, she built an indoor sports arena by the money looted from the prison inmates.
On 24 August 1943, she and her husband were arrested on the orders of Josias von Waldeck-Pyrmont, the SS and Police Leader for Weimar, Buchenwald.
The accusations brought against the Kochs included private fortification, embezzlement, and the murder of potential witnesses.
In 1947, Koch was arraigned before the American military court at Dachau (General Military Government Court for the Trial of War Criminals) and her prosecutor was Judge Robert L. Kunzig. She was accused of "participating in a criminal plan for aiding, abetting and participating in the murders at Buchenwald”.
On 19 August 1947, she was sentenced to life captivity for violating the laws and customs of war.
On 8 June 1948, after she had spent two years in prison, General Lucius D. Clay, the provisional military governor of the American Zone in Germany, cut down the judgment to four years of imprisonment because of a lack of evidence.
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In 1949, Ilse Koch was arrested again. The trial opened on 27 November 1950 before the District Court at Augsburg in West Germany. It lasted seven weeks.
In late December 1950 and later on 11 January 1951, Koch collapsed in the courtroom and had to be carried away.
During the trials, several witnesses testified that they had seen Koch choosing the tattooed prisoners who were later killed. However, the prosecution dropped this charge because they could not prove that the lampshades were made from human skin.
On 15 January 1951, the Court came out with its decision. Koch was charged with provocation to murder, attempted murder and committing grave bodily damage. She was sentenced to life imprisonment and her civil rights were forfeited.
The Federal Court of Justice dismissed her higher appeal on 22 April 1952. All her petitions for pardon were dismissed by the Bavarian Ministry of Justice and the International Human Rights Commission.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1936, Ilsa Koch got married to Karl-Otto Koch.
During her first trial, she announced in the courtroom about her pregnancy. It could have been Waldemar Hoven, the chief medical doctor’s or Hermann Florstedt, the Deputy Commandant’s baby.
This announcement of her pregnancy shocked the court because the 41 year old Koch was kept isolated during that time.
After the death of her husband in April 1945, she lived with her surviving family in Ludwigsburg, till her second arrest.
Karl and Ilse Koch had two sons. One of them committed suicide after the war and the other, Uwe was born in the Aichach prison near Dachau where Koch was serving life imprisonment.
When Uwe Köhler was 19, he came to know his mother’s identity and visited her in Aichach.
On 1 Spetember 1967, Koch committed suicide at Aichach women's prison. She was 60 years old.
Her body is buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery at Aichach.
Koch’s life inspired a series of Nazi exploitation films and the noise music compilation ‘Für Ilse Koch’ released by the British label Come Organisation in 1982.

See the events in life of Ilse Koch in Chronological Order

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