Article 1, Bauer Yehuda

_Jerusalem Post_, 29 May 1990, p. 4:

To the Editor of the Jerusalem Post:
Sir, – Neil Kuchinsky (letters, May 20) quotes from the Nuremberg
trial transcripts to show that the Germans made soap from human
bodies at the Danzig Anatomic Institute, basing himself on the
testimony of two British PoWs and a German laboratory assistant.
The facts are correct. They were quoted in extenso in a Czech-
language book by Ota Kraus and Erich Kulka, and are well-known to

The reason why no historian has ever claimed that Germans made
industrial use of human bodies for the production of soap is also
contained in those very testimonies. They show that the
“Institute” was established in the course of 1944 by a Danzig
Nazi scientist (Dr. Spanner) who invented the method by which
this could be done, and persuaded an apparently enthusiastic
Berlin authority (we do not know who it was) to support his

According to the somewhat contradictory evidence, 25 kg. of
perhaps more of this horrible substance was made, and one source
claims that it was used experimentally in Danzig itself. It
emerges very clearly that this was a first and unique experiment
and that it was in its experimental stages. The bodies used may
have been those of prisoners of war and forced labourers from the
immediate vicinity. It is also clear that had the war continued,
the Nazis were certainly capable of turning this into another
mass horror.

There was no industrial production, and the pieces of soap
inscribed R.I.F. which Jewish victims were told were made of
human fat were found to contain ordinary non-organic fats (R.I.F.
means Reichsstelle fuer Industrielle Fettversorgung, or State
Centre for Supply of Fats, and not Pure Jewish Fat, as the
victims were told by the Nazis).

The reason why one has to be accurate is that one has to exercise
tremendous responsibility and deep respect towards the victims
and their relatives and towards the memory of the millions of
Jewish dead. What the Nazis did is horrendous enough; we do not
need to believe the additional horrors they thought about but did
not have time to realize. The Holocaust deniers waiting in the
wings are eager to pick up any inaccuracies we may inadvertently
commit, and we should not ease their “work.”

Yehuda Bauer
The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Last-Modified: 1996/08/12