Chief Prosecutor of Buchenwald Case Protests Commutation of Ilse Koch’s Sentence

William Dowdell Denson, former Chief Prosecutor of the Buchenwald concentration camp case, in a letter to the New York Times today, protested the commutation of Ilse Koch’s sentence from life imprisonment to four years. Frau Koch, wife of the former commandant of the Buchenwald camp, was convicted on charges of having made lampshades from the skin of camp inmates.

Declaring that the best witnesses to Ilse Koch’s conduct were not present at the trial–they have long since departed this life and gone up the chimney of the crematory in smoke,” Mr. Benson said; “The ten men who did testify stated enough to justify a sentence of imprisonment for a greater period of time than four years. Evidently the court that heard the case thought so because they gave her imprisonment for life.

“I still have some of the notes I took in the course of the trial, They paint a picture of a depraved woman trafficking in human skin–all so well-known as not to require repetition–beating prisoners herself, and reporting prisoners to the Protective Custody Camp Leader so that they were beaten to such an extent that the prisoners died as a consequence,” Mr. Denson said.

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