The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Here's the text of "Nazi Soap Rumor During World War II," a letter to the
editor in Los Angeles Times, 16 May 1981, part II, page 2:

	Rachel Patron's moving piece (Editorial Pages, April 30) about
a childhood in Siberia during World War II highlighted the way in
which war can make the most mundane of niceties, in this case soap, a

	She survived four years of hunger, horror and brutalities
meted out by a regime that treated the foreigners in its midst and
even its own people with less than humane consideration.  Patron and
her family were among the thousands of Jews who were forcibly moved by
the Russians from sectors of Russian-occupied Poland into the Siberian
interior and held in a semi-state of captivity for the war's duration.
As hard as their lot might have been, they were saved from the
systematic annihilation the Germans visited on those Jews who had the
miserable fate of living in German-occupied Poland.

	At the war's end as the Patrons returned to Poland they
stopped in the Ukrainian town of Dobra Matka.  While waiting for the
train Rachel discovered a shed full of soap and after joyously
lathering herself and washing off the Siberia stench brought an armful
back to her mother.  The easy availability of this common household
item seemed to indicate to Rachel and her mother that the war was

	The child's joy quickly evaporated when her mother discovered
the letters "RJF" on the bars of soap.  The mother explained through
her tears of horror that the letters stood for _Rein Judisch Fett_:
Pure Jewish Fat.  A childhood joy had become a nightmare.

	Rachel Patron probably has many nightmares from that period.
Had her family lived in a different part of Poland she probably would
not have survived to have those nightmares.  She would have become one
of the millions of Jewish children who perished at the hands of the
Nazi murderers.  She would have become a statistic and not a
storyteller.  But she would not have been rendered into soap.

	The fact is that the Nazis never used the bodies of Jews, or
for that matter anyone else, for the production of soap.  The soap
rumor was prevalent both during and after the war.  It may have had
its origin in the cadaver factory atrocity story that came out of
World War I.  The letters "RJF" probably stood for the name of the
factory that produced the soap.  The soap rumor was thoroughly
investigated after the war and proved to be untrue.

	The Nazis performed innumerable acts of horror.  Acts which,
were there not definite and undeniable proof of them, could be
dismissed as too unbelievable to be true.  The hair of Jewish women
was sent back to the Reich for use by the German people.  The gold was
extracted from the teeth of Jews and sent to German banks to be melted

	In certain camps, e.g.  Buchenwald, there were acts even more
macabre.  There, the young wife of the commandant used the skin of
Jews to make lampshades and other bric-a-brac for her home.  The
greatest act of horror, of course, was the well-nigh successful plan
of the Nazis to eliminate the Jewish people from the face of the
European continent.

	During the war the Nazis went to great effort to hide their
actions from the public.  They used all sorts of euphemisms to
camouflage their actions in official reports: "eliminated," "finished
off," "subject to special treatment," and "solution of the Jewish
question." It would have been entirely at odds with their policy of
subterfuge for them to have printed the abbreviation of "Pure Jewish
Fat" on bars of soap that were distributed to the population of the
Reich and Reich-occupied countries.

	The necessity for exactitude when dealing with the horrors of
the war becomes even more pressing today when there are those groups
that would haveus believe that the Holocaust is a "hoax." The
Torrance-based Institute of Historical Review (IHR) emerged as the
American front for this argument.  Similar groups exist in Europe.
These groups contend that while many Jews may have died as a result of
"normal" wartime privations, no one ever died in a gas chamber or as a
result of systematic murder.  The basis for their argument is that the
only ones to benefit from the myth of the Holocaust are the Zionists.

	The IHR would have you believe that Zionists propagated the
story of the Holocaust and use the sympathy of the world to foster
their own ends.  In reaching this conclusion they ignore reams of
detailed eyewitness accounts by both the victims and perpetrators of
this crime.

	Faculty and students at the University of California have
become particularly sensitive to the dangerous antics of the IHR.  In
November 1981 the IHR will hold a conference on the "hoax of the
Holocaust" at the University of California retreat center in Lake
Arrowhead.  They have leased the retreat center under the guise of
being an educational entity.  It should be noted that since the
Arrowhead center is subsidized, the residents of the state of
California whose tax dollars support the University of California are
for all intents and purposes supporting the IHR and its attempt to
make a mockery of all that is truth.

	In the face of such frightening endeavors it is imperative
that all those who write and speak of the annihilation of European
Jewry do so with the greatest of care and precision.  It is equally
imperative that all those who value truth and honesty fight the
attempts of the IHR to propagate their mendacious views.

					Deborah Lipstadt
					Los Angeles

	Lipstadt is on the faculty of UCLA, where she teaches modern
Jewish history.

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