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Karl Otto Koch (August 2, 1897 - April 5, 1945), a colonel in the German Schutzstaffel (SS), was the first commandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald (from 1937 to 1941), and later at Lublin (Majdanek camp). Before he joined the SS, he had been a banker.
His wife was Ilse Koch, whom he married in 1936, better known as "The Witch of Buchenwald" (Die Hexe von Buchenwald), usually rendered more alliteratively in English as "The Bitch of Buchenwald." When Koch was transferred to Buchenwald, Ilse was appointed an Oberaufseherin (overseer) by the SS and thus had an active, official role in the atrocities committed there. There have been many unverified rumors about a lampshade made from human skin, which has become an often repeated legend since the war, but no one could testify that they'd actually seen such a thing during Ilse's trial.
According to The Buchenwald Report, Col. Koch was arrested in August 1943 by the Gestapo for forgery, embezzlement, mismanagement, and insubordination. The prosecutor was SS judge Konrad Morgen. After an investigation and trial that determined Koch had ordered Walter Krämer and his medical assistant Peix killed, to prevent their discussing the fact they had treated him for syphilis. Koch was condemned to death, and executed by firing squad on April 5, 1945, one week before Americans arrived.
Acquitted by Morgen, Ilse Koch was sentenced after the war to life in prison. She hanged herself in prison in 1967.
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