Museum experts analyzed the composition of the object and said the practice was common in Nazi Germany.
The Museum of Auschwitz, Poland, received in January 2020 new evidence of the crimes committed during the Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler: a photo album with a cover made of human skin. According to experts at the institution, it is likely that the “material” came from the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.
This is not the first artifact of its kind: the museum has another book with a similar composition on the cover. The professionals compared the two objects with a spectrophotometer, a device used to measure the concentration of substances.
According to Elżbieta Cajzer, head of the Collections section at the Auschwitz Museum, the analyzes indicated similar amounts of human skin, polyamide 6 and polyamide 6.6 – materials better known as nylon. “The polymers used in the production of synthetic fibers are the most important, because they were not invented until 1935. This information allows us to determine when the covers were created”, explains Cajzer. “During World War II, polyamides were a technological novelty, and access to them was limited. In the Reich territory, artificial fibers were used to produce parachutes.”
In the Buchenwald camp, prisoners’ skin was used as a raw material in bookbinding and wallet making, for example. “The use of human skin as production material is directly associated with the figure of Ilse Koch, who wrote her name in history as the concentration camp murderess,” reports Elżbieta Cajzer.
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According to the museum, the album belonged to a family in Bavaria (state of Germany) that had a hotel at the time of World War II. The object was probably given as a gift by someone working in the concentration camp.
Within the album, there are more than 100 photographs and postcards with panoramic and landscape images. For the museum, the artifact is “without a doubt, a proof of the crime against humanity”, as the institution writes on its website.