Human Lampshade: A Holocaust Mystery

This story follows one man’s quest to uncover the origins and reveal the mysteries of a possible Holocaust artifact some historians now say never existed: lampshades made of human skin. When the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina receded, they left behind a wrecked New Orleans and a strange looking lamp that an illicit dealer claimed was ‘made from the skin of Jews.’ This whirlwind journey takes us from Chicago to Buchenwald… from CSI-type labs to the remains of the pathology department where the SS conducted medical experiments on inmates. Before journey’s end, we go back in time to meet the most notorious Nazi villainess of all: Ilse Koch, the so-called ‘Bitch of Buchenwald.’

By: Director/Writer Steven Hoggard

It’s winter in Brooklyn. Gray and cold. Appropriate weather when you’ve come to direct one of the final shoots in a documentary about an alleged Nazi lampshade made from human skin that emerged in New Orleans post-Katrina…

That this particular lampshade is human seems incontrovertible. Back in 2006 it was tested by the same DNA lab the FBI chose to identify the 11,000 body parts left after 9-11. And that lab determined that the lampshade was indeed “of human origin.”

Since then, New York Magazine writer Mark Jacobson has traveled with the lamp to forensics labs and historians across the planet, to determine if it’s one of the missing human lampshades from Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Mark’s even written a book about his investigation.

Since our arrival, we’ve all been pushing to find out as much about the lampshade as possible… Beyond the fact that it’s human, is the stitching from WWII? Is the metal frame made from Nazi steel manufacturing from the time? And, perhaps most important, can new DNA science tell us more about the victim? Was it a man or a woman? Was his or her ethnic make-up compatible with the European or Jewish profile of a typical Buchenwald prisoner?

So far, our forensics tests done at some of the world’s best crime labs have pointed back to origins in Nazi Germany and WWII. The truth behind the lampshade’s important. For years it dwelled between myth and reality. Because although there’s absolutely no doubt that human skin artifacts were made at Buchenwald, a human-skin lampshade has never been found.

Ilse is a horrible icon of the Holocaust. A Nazi sadist renowned for tormenting prisoners, she was, without question, fascinated with tattooed human skin. Witnesses tell of her selecting inmates for their elaborate tattoos. Once selected, the victims were never seen again but their tattoo designs appeared on all manner of artifacts. Perhaps the most horrid artifacts of all were Ilse’s notorious human lampshades; household appliances to help us see in the dark and to help German officers read Goethe or the poetry of Schiller…

Upon liberation, General Patton forced the German citizens of nearby Weimar to march through Buchenwald and confront the stacks of corpses, the body organ samples, the crematoria – and a single human skin lampshade. When Ilse was brought to trial it was this last piece of evidence to secure the death penalty. But on the eve of Ilse’s trial – the Buchenwald lampshade disappeared.

Since then, Holocaust deniers have used the absence of a human skin lampshade as ‘evidence’ for their stupidity. No lampshade no Holocaust. And in the decades since the war, no real human lampshade has ever surfaced. Until now.

Or so we thought. Because today, on this overcast Brooklyn morning, I’m headed to Mark Jacobson’s house to learn the results of the latest DNA tests. Will they reveal deeper secrets about who this person was? Or could they even overturn the DNA results of 2006 and challenge the finding that it was human at all?

Tune in to Human Lampshade: A Holocaust Mystery this Saturday at 9P to find out.


  1. ron olson
    glenview, il usa
    September 29, 2012, 9:09 pm

    I thought it was a bullcrap one hour waste of time. Anything to sell a show. I have a light blub for yor lamp that came from mars.

  2. mike keohi
    Steilacoom WA
    September 29, 2012, 9:48 pm

    I saw a human skin lampshade brought to my second grade class by a kid named Rob Winters during show and tell 1962. His Dad was an American soldier. Rob brought a large German flag, German medals,photos of concentration camp bodies piled high and a small lamp with a shade made from a woman’s breast. Sounds unbelievable, but absolutely true.

  3. vince
    September 29, 2012, 11:07 pm

    I’m not sure why you seem sooo disappointed your lampshade is not human. How sick are you?

  4. paul peck
    September 30, 2012, 5:30 pm

    When I saw that the lampshade came from new orleans by a huckster hauled it out of the garbage who was just trying to earn a buck, my first thought was “Its new orleans. Land of voodoo. I bet it is made of human skin and not connected to the holocaust”. When they said the first DNA test confirmed it was human I thought “Most likely some serial killer living in new orleans when katrina hit but not related to the holocaust” When things added up in a strange way showing it conforms to 3rd reich germany I thought “Only in a place like new orleans could all those things come together” GO GREEN BAY PACKERS!

  5. tovis
    November 6, 2012, 5:04 pm

    I lived in Soviet Union several times for many years. In museum of “Red army” I’ve seen not only the lamps shade, but portfolios, and some boxes wrapped with human skin and other souvenirs made from human bones. Also in Kiev I’ve seen complete skin from hand. May be those are fakes, but who would care about fake things in SU at those times? Who need to make so qualified fakes? Nothing to say it was a part of our common history. Real masters of horror!

  6. mike conway
    November 10, 2012, 3:58 pm

    anybody tell me when this will be shown again on sky please i really want to see this programme

  7. Aphx
    November 23, 2012, 8:41 pm

    ron olson – its “normal” history – not from mars, that we had in Europe in Holocaust. most of American people doesn’t understand and believe, you are blind and… PS. US History books aren’t equivalent to true in that subject.. Be proud ignorant ;P

  8. Linda
    Yorktown, VA
    November 30, 2012, 8:34 am

    When General Eisenhower went into Buchanwald to “officially free” the camp, my dad was one of the officers who was asked to accompany him. My dad said how horrific it was, how the people were in such shock they didn’t know what was happening. He saw the stacks of bodies. He saw the lampshade and what upset him so much was how beautiful it was. He was at a meeting once where a holocaust denier spoke. He said he took it so long; then stood up and said, “I saw it, I was there.”

  9. cheryl
    January 3, 2013, 11:25 am

    I think it is a good thing to have, it was made for people to remember how the war was, why they died, maybe it could go into a museum. Children need to understand why this war was, how it became, kids are voting for the wrong reasons. Just saying, beware it could happen all over again.

  10. T Landman
    January 3, 2013, 11:59 am

    Wow. They storytellers knew it wasnt huma, but, had to run the story anyway? What did they gain? I know a lot of ppl suffered in WWII, but,kind of stretching it to segway into another holocost story. At some point in time over doing it will not get your message accross.

  11. Michael Curtis
    Jonesborough TN
    January 3, 2013, 12:46 pm

    I wonder if they processed that skin in a vat full of cow skin. Then the skin could be fully contaminated by cow skin DNA.

  12. m.j.
    January 6, 2013, 7:50 pm

    these lampshades look familiar
    i remember them from 20 yrs back
    i hope they arent all made from humans
    cause my parents and theirs also owned lampshades
    who look like these,.. bit larger though,.. 🙁

  13. daniel gury
    January 17, 2013, 11:04 am

    There are many digusting things that happened during the Holocaust I’m not surprsied.

    Never Again! Hitler’s Children Documentary

  14. B. Curry
    Tampa, FL
    January 19, 2013, 12:45 am

    This particular lampshade may not have been authentic, but that doesn’t mean that the stories are not true. I appreciate the Authors attempt to find the truth, and NatGeo’s running the story, despite the findings. I believe there were real human lampshades. I produced a video for our local Holocaust Museum, and interviewed Survivors and Liberators. I can still hear the words of one of the Liberators, and remember how he broke down as he talked about what he saw. He was very upset with comments that were being made that indicated that some things weren’t true. He said, ‘It was true. I was there. I saw it.’ I will never forget his words, and I believe they were true. He still, after all these years, cried at the thought of what he witnessed, and when he walked with us through the Museum, and commented on photos and exhibits, his emotions were real – and raw. That was all the proof I needed.

  15. partizan
    republika srpska
    January 27, 2013, 3:52 pm

    Nazi army with them GOOD HITLER are the worst evil on this world,and AMERICA all time try to hide them last 68 years… 40 million people who were killed in concentration camps bends and other ways of killing and extermination of human race.Ilse Koch, the so-called ‘Bitch of Buchenwald.’ America and Europe are now all forgotten it, and condemned the Serbs as criminals and punish them as if they were the greatest holocausts in the world … and because I believe that they are made of leather shell lamps… knows like HUMAN LAMPSHADE!!!!

  16. Roy Zemba
    February 4, 2013, 8:15 am

    if you are saying it was made of human skin,why does the DNA results have to say it was made of cow skin???

  17. […] The following quote is from this website: […]

  18. […] If anything positive came out of this experience though, I’m at least glad to see that the same people who would defend an ADMITTED murderer of children are by and large the same people who deny that my great-grandmother was made into a lampshade. […]

  19. Nightmike
    May 20, 2013, 12:06 pm

    “Because although there’s absolutely no doubt that human skin artifacts were made at Buchenwald, ”
    Where are they getting this info? At the trials, they said that those claims were baseless…

  20. Mike
    July 9, 2013, 3:30 am

    So, I saw this last night on NatGeo Greece. I freaked out, I almost didn’t sleep at night. At start, when the first test said it was human skin I was like WOOOOOWW… I would like to be from human skin, because it would mean something fair for the families of the Jews that died in the Holocaust, but also I wouldn’t like to be from human skin because it would be really sad that one or more people died for this piece of shit, only for a German to be happy…

    Sorry for my English, I’m 15 years old, from Greece. Hope to see more great documentaries like this in the future! 🙂

  21. CuriousDave
    United States
    July 20, 2013, 11:54 pm

    With all due respect to all those who claim to have “seen” lampshades made of human skin – and that includes the late President Eisenhower and the many survivors of Buchenwald – none of them actually witnessed the manufacture of such products, and none of them conducted or witnessed scientific research that might have proven what they claimed. Similar claims were made that the Germans had mass-produced soap from Jewish fat (although there is some evidence that soap was made on a very small scale, mostly for experimentation). An horrific event like the Holocaust was bound to result in many myths and legends. Trouble is, Holocaust deniers, in the name of “revisionism,” routinely point to these myths and legends as “evidence” that the Holocaust itself is a myth or a “holohoax,” despite the overwhelming evidence and professional research that has conclusively proven the major elements of the Holocaust.

  22. Maggy
    Oklahoma CIty
    September 23, 2013, 4:27 pm

    When I was 8, I spent the summer visiting my sister (whose husband was stationed there) in Bamberg, Germany. One day, her landlord, Heir Grunberg, took me down into the basement to show me his secret artifact from WWII. What I saw was a very nice looking old lamp with a big lampshade, which he told me was made of human skin. He said they’d all been ordered to get rid of them after WWII, but he had hidden his in the basement instead. I remember it looking much like the lampshade in this picture…not like leather at all, but much lighter and thinner. I’ve never forgotten how disgusted I felt, and he was SO proud of it.

  23. Denis Steele
    November 3, 2013, 1:47 am

    I went into a Pub in Bristol about 1962 / 63 I think it was The Hatchet Inn, Frogmore Street, Bristol It could been another one but it had a door made from human skin but into i sat at a table and there was a lampshade with a tattoo on it and i was told that was from WW2 and from the concentration camps.
    I sure that it would have been removed soon after that time as the sixty’s progressed into peace and harmony.

  24. Steve
    January 17, 2014, 2:31 pm

    Rubbish…pure rubbish, like most stories about the Nazis you watch on corporate television…

  25. Bob Saget
    January 19, 2014, 5:27 pm

    I was hoping this article would contain information. Instead its just an Ad for one of your shows. Garbage level journalism

  26. Richard BOISVERT
    January 30, 2014, 11:10 am

    In your documentary you said there was ever proof of that , now i jsut watch a documentary whit footage from the camp , and you can a few model of those shades + shrink jewish head and some medical artifact … the docuementary you can see those ( real footage ) is called apacalypse cd 3 episode 5 , there you go as re3al proof of it

  27. […] a few months ago National Geographic re-aired (on UK television) an obscene program called Human Lampshade: A Holocaust Mystery. Not only was the program a succession of speculation on speculation- in 2012 DNA testing PROVED […]

  28. Danny De Carvalho
    April 5, 2014, 12:22 pm

    Disturbing , yet interesting view into human psychology.

  29. Kate Heaton
    Dundas, Ontario
    April 8, 2014, 8:37 pm

    I was stationed at Bergen Belsen when I was in HM Forces (Army). We lived in an old Army barracks which was used during the second World War by the Nazi SS. In the museum attached to the Bergen Belsen Concentration camp there was a human skin lamp shade on display. Can you please confirm whether research was done on this lampshade. I was stationed there during the early 1990’s.

  30. Isaac
    May 5, 2014, 7:42 pm

    One day, the germans will pay for their unhuman cruelty !

  31. Isaac
    May 5, 2014, 9:15 pm

    Your cowardice to tell it like it is is awaiting explanation.

  32. Hazel
    May 28, 2014, 10:22 pm

    The John Dieter photograph collection at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential library contains photographic images of NAZI atrocities the Allies discovered, among them are images of what were identified as human skin objects, I remember one lampshade had tattoos. Dieter served with Patton’s command headquarters.

  33. Hitler Didnothingwrong
    May 30, 2014, 8:44 pm

    The kikes lies are being uncovered.

  34. Nova Scotia
    Nova Scotia
    June 3, 2014, 11:50 am

    My great grand mother had a lamp made from the holocaust made of human skin. It is not a myth. My mother remembers as we were the largest antique dealer in the maritimes in the 60s.

    In one of our shipments was the lamp. My mother and great grandmother went into the backyard and burned it. With a century in antique dealing we knew what we had. This story is true.

  35. Abdullah The Butcher
    June 14, 2014, 9:37 am

    A friend of a friend had one with the tatoo’s on it. They were REAL, for those idiots who don’t believe they exist, they EXIST. I wanted to buy it but he would’nt sell. I thought it would make a nice conversation piece but it was’nt to be.

  36. Iknow
    June 23, 2014, 11:59 pm

    Fake Atrocities do not a Lampshade make….

  37. jess
    July 20, 2014, 9:06 pm

    it’s cow not human

  38. kim
    July 24, 2014, 12:13 pm

    hello, I seen your your show on Netflix, im very interested, ive been trying to contact mr. Jacobson. I might know where theres another lampshade is located. I seen it my self, , it was about 10 years ago. id like to exchange information.

  39. kim
    July 24, 2014, 12:16 pm

    this isn’t a hoax, this is very real. so is the one in the picture .please emal

  40. Bluejay
    July 27, 2014, 3:15 am

    When we were taught about the holocaust in school I remember out teacher telling us about the lampshades. Her father was German. Whether he saw it with his own eyes or not I do not know. She also told us about how the Nazis use to experiment on the concentration camp prisoners and sterilize them and do radiation tests on them. It was heartbreaking. I was 16 and couldn’t begin to imagine why someone would do such a thing. It was the first time I learned about what evil some human beings are capable of doing. When you look at all the horrible atrocities the nazis committed it’s certainly possible. Why anyone would want to own one of these is beyond me. A museum I can see. That way people can know what happened and never forget but why would anyone consider this neat or cool to own?

    I am still baffled that some people believe that the holocaust never happened. A friend of mine use to work with a guy who said he agreed with Hitler. My friend told him, you do realize if hitler had had his way you wouldn’t even be here right? The US was his enemy. We study the past so that we may learn from it so that those things never happen again. What happened to those people was tragic.

  41. Thomas
    July 29, 2014, 9:52 am

    Mark Jacobson, did you ever think it possible that maybe they soaked the human skin in oil (likely from a cow, due to the DNA results) to make it more transparent to show light through more easily??? That could account for the results.

  42. […] night we caught a macabre documentary entitled “Human Lampshade: A Holocaust Mystery“.  Now as macabre documentaries are concerned (and face it, how many are not), this was […]

  43. Dave Brent
    August 5, 2014, 5:52 pm

    Okay, what a crap show. Lampshade was cow.

  44. Roy Hackett
    B.C. Canada
    August 24, 2014, 8:30 pm

    When I was a very young boy my family was at a someone’s that my father knew for dinner or something like that. The guy was a WWII memorabilia collector. My father showed my brothers and I SS knives and other such things. He showed us what he called a jews skin lampshade. I was probably 5 or 6 or in that age range. I had no idea what it was but for some reason it was one of those bits of information that stuck with me. Years and years later for some reason it came to mind and I realized just what it was and what my father meant by a Jew’s skin lampshade. I remember what it looked like and it was nothing like the one in the show. It was a patchwork of pieces stitched together and stretched over a lampshade frame. The pieces themselves looked very much like the material that this lampshade was made of. This was in the early 60s and I never asked my father about it even after my revelation. My father has been gone for a long time now and I don’t even know who the man was that we were visiting.

  45. Tiber Septim
    September 25, 2014, 1:53 pm

    I’ve seen the lamp shades, I’ve seen the inside of the Box Cars with human claw marks in the wood. I’ve seen ash pond as well as the blue stained walls of the gas chambers. I wish people would stop being so being so naïve when it comes to the horrors of the Beautiful People. (Aryan Race)

  46. Tiber Septim
    September 25, 2014, 2:04 pm

    There are some Camps that are still standing, but what about the ones that were demolished before the Allied occupation? A few years ago, more like 15 I spoke with a gentleman who reveal a truly macabre secret about the lost camps and gas chambers. The left-over materials such as bricks, stones, timbers, and other masonic materials were re-used to build homes in the war torn areas. He said that he had collected evidence from the mortar and clay bricks, and they had shown MORE than trace amounts of prussic acid. Also know as, Zyklon-B. Gift-Gas The preferred chemical for mass executions. I was mortified when he told me this.

  47. Tiber Septim
    September 25, 2014, 2:15 pm

    @ Hazel
    You mentioned shades with a (TATTOO) I’ve heard of them but not actually seen one that was verified. It is a probability that it was real but, it’s a possibility that it could be a fake.
    In modern day tattoo training, there is a training method known as “GAUNTLET” and pig are used for hands-on training. Now I’m not saying by any means that the shade was made from pig skin. Tattoos today have thinner lines compared to tattoos from the 20s-50’s that would have thicker lines.

  48. LestWeForget
    November 8, 2014, 7:43 pm

    To those individuals who would try to convince anyone that atrocities did not happen, you are living in la-la land. If these monsters were able to inflict so much pain and suffering upon a race then they were very capable of this sub-level of evil. Everything about WWII is disturbing. The good thing about humanity is that we can overcome every evil as a collective group ONLY IF WE CHOOSE NOT TO FORGET. History continues to say so.

  49. Shaine Araujo
    November 10, 2014, 12:03 pm

    NOTHING of what they said in court against Ilse Koch was tried (which led, inclusive, General Lucius D. Clay to lessen his sentence in 1949 for two years). I find it very frivolous the sites today , who say they want to demonstrate that she was to blame yes. Not advocate Ilse, but nothing of what they say against her was proved.

  50. Victoria Dillon
    January 11, 2015, 2:32 pm

    My father was an army private and helped with the clean up of Buchenwald. He said one large building had one section where every organ of the human was in solution and at the far corner was where the Germans made lampshades from human skin. He said they especially liked the ones with tattoos. He and other GI’s helped the Jews that were still alive there. He said that one that he helped was hanging with his back pierced on a meat hook ready to go into the gas chamber. When I looked at my father’s face as he finished talking, it would darken and not a sound more would be heard and I could see the shadows of the horror of war and how the memories echoed in his mind continually and forever and why he kept his WWI 9 mm issue close to his side. May he rest in peace.

  51. Joseph Hutzman
    United States
    January 14, 2015, 4:58 pm

    Ridiculous, wasn’t this proven in 2010 to be fake?

  52. Digus Lamus
    February 6, 2015, 1:48 am

    When I was a 5th to 8th grader school in Michigan I had saw the horrors of this nature, It haunts me till this day, but no one will and would not believe me. I’m Black and my instructors was weird white peps. They asked me was I afraid of death, since I had a Job at the local Funeral Home since 3rd grade.

  53. bali
    June 14, 2015, 9:37 pm

    They said the Germans made soap out of dead Jews. This was proven to be false. They said 300,000 Jews were killed at the Dachau concentration camp. Turns out it was closer to 30,000, even though the camp was open longer than any other — 12 years. They said that more than 4 million Jews were killed at Auschwitz and that a total of 6 million Jews died in the holocaust. But they changed the number of Jews killed at Auschwitz to 1.2 million, and never revised the overall number. It’s likely that 3 million or fewer Jews died in the holocaust, the majority from Typhus and from starvation as Allies bombed the railway lines in the last months of the war in 1945 and the food supplies were cut off. Thus the skeletal bodies when the Allies liberated. Lots of evil in the war, Yes. But lots of lies have been told about the holocaust, particularly in the last few decades. Why?

  54. Marlene VanderMolen
    March 2, 2016, 4:24 pm

    It is true Lampshades made out of skin, I saw one Headquarters 7th Army in France years ago while I was in the Army. Believe it or not, a lot of things went on during Hitlers time, he was a monster and had a lot of helpers just like him…Most of you will never know half of it or turn a blind eye to it like so many people did, to the non believers go over where the Jewish prison camps were and see for yourself, it is all there for the world to look at it is not hidden away in some dark cave, some are still living today that were in those camps, have you talked to them, you can not sweep the truth under the rug….It is what it is and it did happen..

  55. […] during the Riechs and Holocaust: worked to death, used as scientific experiments, even made into lampshades apparently (no joke). Just too many to list here, but it is undeniable that Jews were dehumanized […]

  56. Kaplaars
    June 29, 2016, 4:02 pm

    The amount of people on this thread claiming that they really saw lamps made of human skin as well as all the people who were there supposedly is utterly ridiculous. No such lamp was ever discovered, taking into account the amount of people who claim to have seen them , just in this thread alone, you would think that they were produced in higher numbers than the Billy bookcase by Ikea and yet NONE was ever actually confirmed to be real.
    Proof people are gullible and easily convinced by simple propaganda, Goebbels knew his stuff.

  57. Matt Bjerregaard
    October 9, 2016, 6:13 am

    Both my Grandparents were present at the liberation of Belsen, they both worked for British Military Forces. I recall their accounts of this tragedy of humanity in the 1970’s detailing the lampshades.

  58. H Hoover
    November 6, 2016, 11:17 pm

    About fifty years ago I saw a small lamp shade made of human skin, the most memorable part was one panel that had the tattoo of a number in the skin, assigned by the Nazis to keep track of the person in the early days of the holocaust.

  59. […] evidence that the events did happen.   In Museums and private collections,  there are still lampshades made from the skin of prisoners with ornate tattoos  and other objects made from the tanned skin of prisoners    As for the […]

  60. carol
    February 27, 4:27 pm

    read my father’s keeper page 113 about the collection from himmler and the tables and chairs made from Jewish body parts. And the copy of mein kampf, bound with human skin. How despicable, but shows the mentality of Nazis.