Saturday, October 07, 2006

"Tests show that Nazis used human remains to make soap"

The Nazis used human fat to make soap during World War II in a Nazi German medical academy located in what is now the Polish Baltic sea port city of Gdansk, Polish war crimes prosecutors confirmed on Friday, pointing to new laboratory tests.

Officials with Poland's Institute for National Remembrance (IPN) based their findings on a laboratory analysis of a piece of soap found in 1945 in the medical academy in Gdansk run by Nazi German Professor Rudolf Spanner.

A new laboratory analysis of the soap revealed human fat was one of its components, spokesperson for the Gdansk branch of the IPN, Paulina Szumera, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur in a telephone interview on Friday.

Commissioned by the IPN, Professor Andrzej Stolyhwo of the Warsaw Agricultural University found human tissue in the soap.

The piece of soap was used as evidence in the post-WWII Nuremburg Trials where prominent German Nazis were prosecuted for crimes against humanity. At the time, prosecutors lacked the technology to determine whether the soap contained human tissue.

Human remains used to make the soap were believed to have been brought from Kaliningrad, Bydgoszcz and the Stutthof Nazi German concentration camp located about 30 from Gdansk.

The IPN investigation found that the soap in question produced by Professor Spanner was used to clean operating and autopsy rooms. -- Sapa-dpa
My comments:

1) It should be kept in mind that "the Nazis" didn't manufacture human soap as a matter of policy. A rogue Nazi's "accomplishments" do not tell us much about the Nazi policy in general. One can always turn the tables and accuse any "regime" of anything based on the actions of rogue elements.

This distinction is historically significant. Also, as I have already pointed out, Himmler strictly prohibited any use of the Jewish corpses for goals such as above, for the fear of Allied propaganda. Although the corpses brought to Spanner probably were mostly of non-Jews, one can assume that the same principles applied to them.

That should be assumed to have been an official Nazi policy, not Spanner's soap-making.

2) What does it mean to "make soap"? Does it mean to manufacture it on an industrial scale? In this case, certainly not. At most, we're talking about small-scale experiments of cleaning-agent production for local purposes. Dr. Joachim Neander proposes in his fine article that no "production" was actually involved, rather, the soap might have been a simple by-product of corpses' maceration. I think this might be possible, though I also think that the article is flawed in several important respects. Regardless of its flaws, however, it does point out several problems with evidence for the claim that the "soap" was manufactured, rather than created as a normal by-product.

In my personal opinion, the issue is not fully resolved.

3) Regardless of whether there was a "manufacture" of soap or not, there is actually no controversy as to whether there was a cleaning-agent involved, which was produced from human tissues. Dr. Spanner himself testified to that fact in a German court, as Dr. Neander points out. Of course, he (Spanner) denied that the corpses were boiled in order to produce soap - he went with the "by-product" version.

4) This fact, and also the new findings, show that the "soap" produced by the Soviets as evidence at Nuremberg is quite probably authentic human soap. At least deniers cannot prove otherwise. One more canard shot down.


  1. "The fact is that the Nazis never used the bodies of Jews, or for that matter anyone else, for the production of soap."

  2. Ms. Lipstadt's letter to the Los Angeles Times was written in 1981.

    Although she wrote, somewhat parenthetically, that no bodies were used to make soap, her letter was clearly referring to the "RJF" rumors which originated with the Nazis.

    Her 1993 book_Denying the Holocaust_ has three references to human soap. They all refer to the use of Jewish bodies for making soap. In discussing the historical dismissal of this specific claim she is also discussing the "RJF" soap rumors. She does not repeat her categorical conclusion about any human being used for soap making.

    I think it is quite clear that in neither case was she referring to the Danzig Anatomical Institute situation.

  3. I agree with the points that Lipstadt meant "production" as in "industrial production". Neither is "the Nazis" charge true, as I pointed out. So in this sense Lipstadt is correct. However, her statement is still at least somewhat misleading, as to most people it would imply denial of Danzig soap too, IMHO.

    The only excuse is that the letter is old and probably Lipstadt didn't know better at the time, using more careful language in her book, as Phil pointed out.

  4. Just out of curiousity, how many of you sat with a Holocaust survivor?


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