I've Actually SEEN a Skin-shade (I think)

In the ‘Straight Dope’ that’s in the current (June 4, 04) Issue if the Isthmus newspaper in Madison WI, Cecil’s talking about the rumored lampshades made of human skin made by Nazis in WWII. He essential discounts their existence. Problem is, I think I’ve seen one.

I went to College at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO. In the basement of what I think was named the “Kirk Memorial” building they had a SMALL museum (about 1000 sq feet or so) of mostly war relics brought back by local vets, as I remember.

In this museum, under glass, they had what was supposed to be a human-skin shaded lamp. As it was under glass, and I didn’t have my handy-dandy portable DNA checker with me, it could be a fake. But Jesus, who would want to fake something like that?

Chris S.

I think I did, too, on eBay, quite a while back, before they cut out all the really interesting stuff you could sell. I didn’t bid because I thought it would smell once the lightbulb has been on a while and it heated up. I mean, it could’ve been made from armpit or ass, since there was no “content” labels affixed.

Thewooz, it’s customary (and a dern good idea) to include a link to the column you are referring to, so we are all aware of just whatcha talkin’ 'bout. Theoretically, all of Cecil’s newspaper columns are in the web database, and the new ones should be there even before publication.

However, the link sent to me on this topic by the automated Cecil email machine doesn’t seem to be correct, as it comes up “not found”:


Trying to fix the date to 06/04 instead to 04/06 doesn’t seem to help:


And searching the archives for “nazi AND lampshades” doesn’t return anything either. So my guess is something is wrong. Mods?

Supporting Thewooz:

This article: “A few of the featured pieces in the museum are the lamp supposedly made of human skin, the suit of armor and antique farm equipment.” Note “supposedly.” I wonder what the curator says about it?

I am also a graduate of Truman State University in sunny Kirksville, MO, and have also seen the “skin lamp.” (It used to be located in Violette Museum, which was essentially in the basement of Kirk Memorial.) The museum has since closed it’s doors due to lack of funding. I don’t know what happened to the curator or the artifacts.

I found 2 articles online, both through Truman publications, that referenced the lamp. In both, the fact that the lamp was made of human skin was tempered by the word “supposedly.” However, I do remember that it is presented as being made of human skin - when I went there, I was never told that it “probably” or “supposedly” was. It just was.

I, also, did not have my DNA tester with me.

And also, this:


link works. It didn’t work in the email I received this morning, but I presumed that to just be due to the fact they hadn’t posted the article yet. Seems to work now.

Yep, the link works for me now. I guess the article wasn’t posted in a timely fashion and no one checks the validity of the email links before activating or preparing the automatic email sequence.

The most amazing thing to me about this article was that Karl Koch was executed by the Nazis on the grounds that he was too evil even by their standards. Too evil for the Nazis, damn…

Oops, spoke too soon (as usual). This site http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERkochK.htm says Koch was arrested for embezzlement and forgery (it doesn’t include Cecil’s mention of incitement to murder), found guilty, and executed. So in Nazi logic, Lampshades=OK, Embezzlement=Not OK.

I’m glad Cecil mentioned the soap. There was a thread once where I staked out the claim that the tales of prisoners being made into soap was exaggerated at best. I felt like I was swimming upstream. That it may have been done once is quite different than the widespread practice it is sometimes purported to be.

During the summer of 1982 The Smithsonian had an exhibit about WWII and part of that was a human skin lampshade and soap made from human fat. I will never forget those two items!!! :eek:


TrueEclectic, was it the actual lampshade and soap? Or did you see a photo of such items?

Cross-posting from another thread on the same topic, apologies, but this one seems more active - I’ve seen a ‘skin shade’ on display in the museum at Auschwitz.

My dad was in the German HQ in France immediately after D-Day. One of the things he brought home was a coffee-table type German language book bound in red leather. He’d never shown it to any of us kids, even after we were grown. Then, while he was attending the 50th anniversary at Normandy 10 years ago, he met a man who was starting a WWII museum in Australia, and told him he’d send him some flags and such.

Before he shipped the items, he called me into the den and told me to hold a book he’d unwrapped. It was bound in the softest red leather I have ever touched, and i was immediately creeped out when I saw the gilt German lettering.

Not only was this book bound in human skin, but the publisher (sorry, I don’t remember his name) also used human blood in the ink.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you this type of thing did not happen. I could tell by looking at this skin that it was human.

OK, I have to ask what happened to this book?

Doubtful. Or did you have the handy dandy DNA tester that nobody else seemed to have remembered to bring along?

Wasn’t the Necronomicon originally written with human blood and bound in human skin?

I have no trouble believing the Nazis were capable of making skin shades and that after the war they would have an interest in destroying them. But I agree to make a definite claim requires definite evidence.

I do not agree with Cecil’s claim that “the SS brass, if not necessarily the rank and file, paid at least lip service to the notion that prisoners weren’t to be killed frivolously” if it is meant to apply to Jewish prisoners. Are there cites supporting this, especially after Kristallnacht and before 1944? There are certainly a great many to the contrary. I understand there is evidence that in the dying days of the war Himmler forbade killing Jews using death marches. The fact that this occurred was used as an argument in Goldhagen’s book “Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust” which convincingly argues that extinctionist antisemitism was widespread in Germany before the rise of Hitler.

Unquestionably the Nazis were capable of making lampshades out of human skin. However, why would they? I don’t say this to be flip, but does it make any logical sense to strip the skin of the carcasses of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals etc. and make that into lampshades? The Nazis certainly were evil, but they weren’t particularly stupid.

The Nazis certainly weren’t stupid, but if they are willing to take samples of tattooed skin to use as decorations… (one supposed example, in “The War Against The Jews” discusses how the “Witch of Buchenwald” had a much loved tattoo of “Hansel and Gretel”. This book also mentions the lampshade without evidence apart from camp rumour).

I personally think one could strongly argue that the Nazis tried, not only to remove the Jews from all sectors of society, but to depersonify them and deny them any sense of humanity. Furthermore, they clearly tried to actively instill a constant sense of fear in Jewry long before establishing formal death camps. I don’t find it hard to believe a handful of very zealous Nazis would make a lampshade out of Jewish skin to emphasize that Jews were to be considered animals and not people and to act as a further means of horror and intimidation to the inmates of Buchenwald. I mean, the Nazis were smart, and why did they take hundreds of “souvenir” pictures of Aktions and murder? They did so because, at that time, thousands of Germans saw these actions as morally just.