1001 Tattoo Facts 221-240—Especially Shocking Entries!
By Paul Sayce
201. Ilse Koch (1906-1967) was the wife of the commandant of Buchenwald, Karl Koch, and it was her love of giving presents that gave her the idea of having items made from human skin to be given out as gifts, with gloves and book covers being among her favorites. At the trial of war criminals, at the former Dachau Concentration Camp on the 11th of April, 1947, the testimonies of many of the former inmates of Buchenwald told of the lampshades that Koch had made out of human skin and bone. Josef Siehenleicher, an inmate of the Camp worked in the pathology lab at Buchenwald, and his job was to photograph living inmates who were tattooed and done for the pleasure of Mrs. Koch. It also came to light that, when a prisoner was seen with a desirable tattoo, he or she was sent to the dispensary, killed by injection, their bodies were sent to the pathology unit and their tattoos were skinned and tanned, before being given to (Ilse) Koch, to make her horrendous gifts.
Dr. Kurte Sitte, an inmate, told of tattoos being stripped from the dead and made into knife cases and lampshades. Kurte also explained how it was Koch who found the prisoners in the camp with tattoos and that she would go looking for them, and it was her who sent them to the dispensary to be killed and skinned. Although it must be stated that, when Dr .Sitte was under cross examination, he admitted that he had never seen any lampshades made from human
skin and had no knowledge that Koch had sent anyone to be killed or skinned of their tattoos. It was also a fact that no lampshades were produced at the trial and his (Sitte’s) testimony was regarded as hearsay. But others testified about items being made from human tattooed skin, and it was said that a tattoo with the words “Hansel and Gretel” delighted Koch. At the trial, the only time Koch became upset was when it was said that she had a collection of items made from tattooed skins, screaming, “Lies, lies.” Even today, there is still some debate on whether the skin items found at the camp were indeed human (three tattooed skins and one shrunken head was shown in court), however, there are so many photographs and evidence to support that Koch did indeed do for which she was put on trial. In her defense (if there was any), her counsel stated that the Jewish religion frowns upon tattooing and it would have been highly unlikely that a Jew would wear a tattoo, because, he said, of the fact that the Jewish faith insists that a person with a tattoo cannot be buried in consecrated ground. The defense counsel also said that it was a certain Dr. Wagner, who worked in the camp, was doing a study of tattoos and criminal behavior at the time, and skins found in Buchenwald were “possibly” from dead criminals, and the skins were removed for preserving, in the pathology department, as this was where autopsies were carried out. This didn’t wash, however, and the American Military Tribunal found Koch guilty and sentenced her to life imprisonment. Two years later, Koch was released from prison, as it was decided that her crimes were not war crimes and a U.S. court shouldn’t have convicted her. But ninety minutes after her release, she was rearrested by the German police and sent for trial at a German court, where once again she was found guilty (this time) of forty-five murders for which she (again) received a life sentence and was sent to Aichach prison, in Bavaria. Sixteen years later, on the 2nd of September, 1967, Ilse Koch ‘the Bitch of Buchenwald’ was found dead in her prison cell. She had hanged herself. She was Sixty years old. There was no mention of tattooing or the tattooed items in the (her) second trial.
222. Amber Smith, the supermodel ,who started her career at her mother’s modelling school, in Miami, Florida, aged sixteen, has a tattoo of a pinup girl on her very nice right thigh.
223. British heiress and former Wild Child Tamara Beckwith has a cherub with her daughter’s name tattooed on her backside and a small, red love heart tattoo with wings, on her lower right leg.
224. In a display case at the former Concentration Camp of Birkenau, in Southern Poland, there is a wooden-type implement that looks rather like a children’s coloring crayon, with a large needle pushed into one end of it. This was a tool used to tattoo inmates. Photographs of people with poorly done tattoo numbers on arms and legs, paperwork with the prisoners’ photographs and their camp numbers are also displayed in this case. At one time, it was believed that a sort of clockwork-like tattooing machine was used to mark inmates, but the use of machine did not go on for long, that is, if a machine was actually ever used.
225. The lampshades, framed tattooed skins, shrunken heads and other items made from human items came out of the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Auschwitz, and, in the hut of Irma Grese (1923-1945), three lampshades thought to be human skin were found in her belongings. Grese was considered the most evil of the female guards at Auschwitz, as well as being Mengele’s mistress. The lampshades haven’t been seen since the liberation of Buchenwald, and there is still some dispute by scholars as to whether lampshades made from human skin ever existed, but many photographs of the tattooed skins are shown in books and magazines throughout the world today, reminding us of the evils man can do.
226. In the 1990s, Max Factor International made and sold “Lip Tattoo” lipstick, claiming it to be the longest-lasting lipstick on a woman’s lips.
227. Damon Albarn (1968-) the lead singer of Brit pop group Blur proved his love for his mother by having a rose with scroll tattoo, with “Mum” written in it, during the 1990s.
228. The classic British comedy film “Carry on Regardless” featured a boxing match, with one of the boxers being heavily tattooed. Perhaps this fact doesn’t mean a lot in this day and age, but to see someone with tattoos in a British film or indeed see anything with tattooing in it from Great Britain in the ’60s was quite rare.
229. The “Superman” TV series (1990s), from the U.S.A. saw a woman talking to the Man of Steel and asking him if he had a tattoo? Now, we don’t know if Superman could really have one, for how would you get the needles in?
230. The Two Ronnie’s, the British comedy duo, once did a TV special to celebrate the fact that they had been on television for the past twenty-five years, singing a song about a tattooed lady, during the hour-long show.
231. In the feature film “Dying Young” starring Julia Roberts (1967-), you can see the Chinese symbol tattoo that she has tattooed on her shoulder. She had this tattoo done when she was going to marry Kiefer Sutherland (1966-), in which Kiefer reciprocated, by having the same tattoo done on his skin. Sadly, the pair split up and never married.
232. Top female Irish tattoo artist Pym formerly tattooed in Germany and, in 2009, tattooed in the United States of America. Pym has the most beautiful backpiece tattoo of a fantasy warrior woman, which was put on by the superb French tattoo artist Tin-Tin, who is based in Paris.
233. Peter Storey, Watford Football Club’s (in 1996) lottery co-ordinator, showed his love for his team by having his club president’s portrait tattooed on his thigh. The portrait, of course, being that of pop star Sir Elton John, CBE (1947-).
234. Wolverhampton Wanderers football star Steve Bull once signed his signature under his tattooed portrait, which fan Keith Nicholls already had tattooed on his leg. Keith later had Steve’s autograph etched on, to complete the tattoo. Bull was an England International and played most of his career for Midland Club, which, in today’s English soccer scene, is a very rare feat indeed.
235. National Geographic TV once ran an advert, in New Zealand, to promote the channel, by displaying some of the world’s leading paintings. The ad showed each painting, one at a time, all wonderfully framed. There was a Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) and a Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), all seen via a frame every couple of seconds, until a Japanese-style picture came into view, when, all of a sudden, it moved and walked away from the camera. Yes, you guessed it, it was a backpiece tattoo, which was beautifully done, as was the advert.
236. Star of the now defunct “Gladiators” TV game show (English version) Nikki Diamond, who went by the name Scorpio, once sported the wearables of Oriental designer Michiko Kosmino, at London’s Fashion Week, where, to complete the look, Nikki had painted-on tattoos, on her left arm and breast, of a (very nice) dragon and flower design, to enhance and show off the Kosmino clothing line.
237. Mark Owen of Take That, once the favourite boy band of British girls throughout the U.K., used to visit hospitals up and down the country, to cheer fans up. On one such occasion, he went on a mission to the Bristol Children’s Hospital, where he gave gifts and autographs to a lot of happy youngsters. He also showed off his Dolphin tattoo (on his stomach) to Louise Sidwick, who was said to have been one of band’s (and Mark’s) biggest fans.
238. Northern Ireland had its own tattoo show entitled “Skin Art Ireland” and drew tattoo artists and fans from as far afield as the U.S. and Europe to attend the two day convention. Considered small (the environmental health people only would allow eleven working tattooing booths), Skin Art Ireland ran for five years, with no trouble whatsoever. Although many tattoo artists would not attend because of the political situation, those who did were more then happy with the way the shows organizers, Vic Gibson, Tattoo Pert and Vic’s wife Sandra, went out of their way to put on such memorable events.
239. Mr. Sebastian (Alan Oversby), who was not only a first-class tattoo artist, was one of the founding fathers of body-piercing in Great Britain. Sadly for the body arts profession, Alan who was born in Liverpool, England, in 1933, died on the 8th of May, 1996. Sebastian ran a very successful studio at Mount Pleasant, in North London, England and was once an art teacher, before he gave it up, in 1976, to spend time in the United States with Sailor Sid (Dillier), as well as doing pioneering piercing work with Jim Ward, the man who turned Gauntlet’ into a world renowned company. Mr. Sebastian named himself after the martyred St. Sebastian, who was tied to a tree and shot (pierced) with a slew of arrows.
240. In 2005, The Observer newspaper advertised the broadsheet’s “Food Monthly” magazine on British TV and, in the advert, used a cartoon of Frank de Burgh (complete with all of his tattoos), in the nationwide ad campaign.