Koch, Ilse-Köhler, born 22-09-1906 in Dresden, the daughter of a factory foreman. She was known as a polite and happy child in her elementary school. At the age of 15 she entered an accountancy school. Later, she went to work as a bookkeeping clerk. At the time the economy of Germany had not yet recovered from Germany’s defeat in World War I. In 1932 she became a member of the rising Nazi Party . Through some friends in the SA and SS, she met Karl Otto Koch in 1934, marrying him two years later
. In 1936 she began working as a guard and secretary at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, which her fiance commanded, and was married the same year. In 1937 she came to Buchenwald when her husband was made Commandant. In 1940, she built an indoor sports arena, which cost over 250,000 Reichsmarks, most of which had been seized from the inmates. In 1941, she became an Oberaufseherin (chief overseer, female) over the few female guards who served at the camp. In 1941 Karl Otto Koch was transferred to Lublin, where he helped establish the Majdanek concentration and extermination camp. Ilse Koch remained at Buchenwald until 24 August 1943, when she and her husband were arrested on the orders of Josias Waldeck Pyrmont, SS and Police Leader for Weimar, who had supervisory authority over Buchenwald. The charges against the Kochs comprised private enrichment, embezzlement, and the murder of prisoners to prevent them giving testimony.
Georg Konrad Morgen (8 June 1909 – 4 February 1982) was an SS judge and lawyer “The Bloodhound Judge” who investigated crimes committed in Nazi concentration camps.
Konrad Morgen arrived the day after the massacre had ended. He compiled a report from the testimony of eyewitnesses and Ilse Koch was imprisoned until 1944 when she was acquitted for lack of evidence, but her husband was found guilty and sentenced to death by an SS court in Munich, and was executed in Buchenwald in April 1945. She went to live with her surviving family in the town of Ludwigsburg, where she was arrested by U.S. authorities on 30-06-1945. SS General Sepp Dietrich lived and died in Ludwigburg too. Koch and 30 other accused were arraigned before the American military court at Dachau (General Military Government Court for the Trial of War Criminals) in 1947. Prosecuting her was future United States Court of Claims Judge Robert L. Kunzig, who died age 63 on 21-02-1982. She was charged with “participating in a criminal plan for aiding, abetting and participating in the murders at Buchenwald”. Koch announced in the courtroom that she was pregnant. She was indeed eight months pregnant. Koch already had a reputation for being promiscuous. According to the Buchenwald Report, it was rumored that Koch was having simultaneous love affairs with
, Waldemar Hoven a Waffen-SS Captain who was the chief medical doctor at Buchenwald, Hoven was hanged in Landsberg prison age 45, on 02-06-1948 and Hermann Florstedt , the Deputy Commandant, who was hanged in Buchenwald, age 50, on 15-04-1945. Martin Sommer an SS Hauptscharfführer who served as a guard at the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald was the “Hangman of Buchenwald”. Josef Mengele
infamous for performing human experiments on camp inmates in Auschwitz, including children, for which Mengele was called the “Angel of Death”. Dachau court reporter, Joseph Halow, in his book Innocent at Dachau , reported there were unverified rumors that Koch had engaged in numerous affairs with SS officers, and even with some of the inmates at the Buchenwald concentration camp, and her marital relationship was an open one. Koch’s announcement of her pregnancy stunned the court because she was 41 years old at the time and was being kept in isolation with no contact with any men except the American interrogators, most of whom were Jewish. He also mentions that he was shocked to learn that Koch may have turned to other men because her husband was a “homosexual”. Buchenwald records revealed that he had been treated for syphilis. Halow further claimed that there was speculation among the court reporters that the father was Josef Kirschbaum, a Jewish interrogator who was one of the few men who had access to her prison cell. On 19-08-1947, she was sentenced to life imprisonment for “violation of the laws and customs of war”. On 08-06-1948 after she had served two years of her sentence, General Lucius Dubignon Clay,
the interim military governor of the American Zone in Germany, reduced the judgment to four years’ prison on the grounds “there was no convincing evidence that she had selected inmates for extermination in order to secure tattooed skins, or that she possessed any articles made of human skin”
. According to the Buchenwald Report, there was a factory at Buchenwald, which produced leather goods out of animal skins, but it had caught fire during an Allied bombing raid on the camp on 24-08-1944. News of the reduced sentence did not become public until 16-09-1948. Despite the ensuing uproar, Clay stood firm. She was convicted of charges of incitement to murder, incitement to attempted murder, and incitement to the crime of committing grievous bodily harm, and on 15-01-1951 was sentenced to life imprisonment and permanent forfeiture of civil rights. Koch appealed to have the judgment quashed, but the appeal was dismissed on 22-04-1952 by the Federal Court of Justice. After the trial received worldwide media attention, survivor accounts of her actions resulted in other authors describing her abuse of prisoners as sadistic, and the image of her as “the concentration camp murderess” was current in post-war German society. She was accused of taking souvenirs from the skin of murdered inmates with distinctive tattoos. She was known as “The Witch of Buchenwald” (Die Hexe von Buchenwald) by the inmates because of her cruelty and lasciviousness toward prisoners. She is also called in English “The Beast of Buchenwald”, “Queen of Buchenwald”, “Red Witch of Buchenwald”, “Butcher Widow” and, more commonly, “The Bitch of Buchenwald”.She later made several petitions for a pardon, all of which were rejected by the Bavarian Ministry of Justice. Koch protested her life sentence, to no avail, to the International Human Rights Commission. Karl and Ilse Koch had two sons and one daughter
, including one who committed suicide after the war, allegedly because he could not live with the shame of his parents’ crimes. Another son, Uwe conceived in her prison cell at Dachau by an unknown father, was born in the Aichach prison near Dachau, where she was sent to serve her life sentence, and was immediately taken from her. At the age of 19, he learned that Koch was his mother and began visiting her regularly at Aichach. They had a good relationship and Koch wrote poetry for him. He said “In a conversation with her, I always avoided mention of the war. She herself addressed this topic, denied his guilt and said she was the victim of treachery. I have not discussed these issues in more detail, as it was clear that this is painful for her. I wanted it had hoped that after 20 years in prison she was released. It’s hard to imagine it during the war. I am not convinced that she was innocent. But I feel that the system of concentration camps, it took like many who could not or could not resist this.
Death and burial ground of Koch, Ilse.
She was gripped by hysteria of time Koch committed suicide by hanging herself with bed sheets in her cell at Aichach women’s prison on 01-09-1967; she was 60 years old. She had 4 children, Artwin, Gisela , Gudrun and Uwe. Uwe is born in prison in October 1947 and the father is still unknown, but likely she was fathered by a fellow prisoner, Fritz Schäffer., Uwe was adopted and first in 1966 heard who his biological mother was, he makes a good living selling insurance now. The daughter Gudrun died unexpected, not one year old, during a skiing holiday of her parents and Ilse Koch’s sister Erna was her nanny at the time
On one of his scheduled visits, Ilse’s son Artwin was stunned to learn that she had killed herself the night before Koch’s body is buried in an unmarked and untended grave in the cemetery at Aichach . According to Joseph Halow, author of Innocent at Dachau, her son disappeared after learning of his mother’s suicide, but living in Bonn he said “I want to clear my mother’s name,”
Cemetery location of Koch, Ilse.