How to make soap from humans

[This file was found on the Nizkor site, presumably as partial proof of Holocaust claims.]

The following information comes from Gdansk: National Identity in the Polish-German Borderlands, by Carl Tighe (Concord, MA: Pluto Press, 1990), pp. 173-177:

“From the filth and degradation of Stutthof, the brutality of the Germanisation process and the squabbles and empire-building of the Nazi officials, one man stands out as uniquely disgusting. The work of Professor Spanner at the Danzig Medical Academy’s Anatomical Institute was very much a part and product of the Nazi world. His work had been the cause of unpleasant rumours throughout the war, but it was only in 1945, as the protective screen of German military power crumbled and the security forces evaporated, that the truth about his work was revealed.

The Institute of Anatomy stands as an annex in the courtyard of the Baroque main building of the Medical Academy. It is a modest, unplastered brick building of no architectural merit. Behind this unassuming facade, Professor Spanner ran a special research unit to turn human bodies into soap.

Spanner, accompanied by a half-witted Danzig Pole, travelled to Koenigsberg, Elbing, all the Pomeranian jails, Stutthof and its subcamps, and to the Danzig mental asylum to purchase corpses and transport them back to his workshop. When Danzig prison installed a guillotine, Spanner had bought and paid for the first body before the blade had fallen. The half- witted Pole was later to reveal that on one occasion over 100 bodies had been delivered from the prison and that it was only as a result of this technical innovation that Spanner was able to procure a steady supply of bodies for his work.

Spanner was very fussy and took special care that every corpse, headless or otherwise, was delivered before it began to ‘spoil.’ He refused to accept the bodies of those who had been shot by the Gestapo or SS, or those executed by firing squad because, he said, these bodies spoiled too quickly. Spanner’s vats, located in the basement of the Institute, could only take a very small amount of human material at a time. Each body had to be shaved, dismembered, skinned, cut in half. Spanner had installed a special machine to separate flesh and sinew from bone. The treated remains were boiled down according to a special recipe his assistant had given him ‘from the countryside.’ The recipe, framed in wood and dated 15 February 1944, was found hanging on the basement wall when the Russians and Poles took the city in 1945: 5 kilos of human flesh, 226 grams of caustic soda per pound, 11 litres of water; the mixture to boil for 2-3 hours before cooling. Spanner had great difficulty in getting his soap to set properly or to lather sufficiently and a great deal of his budget went on perfumes and scents to make the soap smell acceptable.

Spanner’s work was of interest to a wide range of high-ranking Nazi officials, and his staff allocation refelcted this. As well as his Polish assistant, Spanner had a senior female assistant, two German manual workers, a deputy — SS-Professor Wohlman — a senior male assistant called von Bergen, and the compulsory helf of a number of anatomy students whenever it was necessary to separate large amounts of fat and tissue from bone, or to fire up the incinerators.

One 5 May 1945, with Berlin about to fall, the International Committee for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes found the remains of over 350 bodies in various stages of preparation in the Institute basement. The Polish novelist Zofia Nalkowska (1884-1954) was one of the members of the Committee and she has left a memorable description of the sight that greeted them:

In the oblique light which fell from the distant, high-placed windows the dead lay the same as yesterday. Their creamy-white, naked young bodies, resembling hard sculptures, were in perfect condition, although they had been waiting many months for the time they would no longer be needed.

Like in stone sarcophagi they lay lengthwise, one body on top of another, in long concrete tubs with open lids. Their hands were not folded across their chests according to funeral ritual but lay alongside their bodies. And the heads were cut off from the torsos as neatly as though they were stone.

In one of the sarcophagi, on top of the dead lay the headless ‘sailor’ already familiar to us — a splendid youth, huge as a gladiator. The contours of a ship were tattooed on his broad chest. Across the outlines of two smokestacks appeared the inscription to a vain faith: God with us.

We passed one corpse-filled tub after another … Fourteen corpses would have sufficed for the needs of the Anatomical Institute. Here there were 350 of them.

Two vats contained only the hairless heads severed from those bodies. They lay one on top of another — human faces like potatoes heaped up haphazardly in a pit: some sideways as if pressed into a pillow, others turned face down or up. They were smooth and yellowish, also excellently preserved and also chopped off at the nape as though they were stone…

With the two professors we later passed to the little red house and saw there on the now cold fireplace a huge vat full of dark liquid. Someone familiar with the premises lifted the cover with a poker and drew to the surface a dripping human torso, cooked to the bone…

The Committee interviewed the two senior professors of the Medical Academy who claimed they knew nothing at all about Spanner’s work, that neither of them had even been inside the Institute and that the only people who knew what Spanner was doing were his own staff. As far as they were concerned, Spanner was known as a hard worker, a good German and a loyal Party member. The Committee were not convinced. Out in the courtyard stood the charred remains of no less than three of Spanner’s incinerators — all of which had caught fire as a result of of overloading. On each occasion the fire brigade had been called out. It was difficult to believe that the Academy’s two senior professors had not investigated the cause of the blaze in each case. Likewise it was difficult to believe that the professors, who had authorised the expenditure of scarce funds for the purchase of the incinerators, had done so without asking questions. Also it was impossible to believe that they had not been aware of the stench of burning flesh whenever Spanner used the incinerators. Certainly it was known that the Dean of the Academy had received complaints about the stench from nearby residents and had asked Spanner to burn flesh only very late at night. From Spanner’s half-witted-Pole the Committee learned that the Reich Minister for Health, the Reich Minister for Education, _Gauleiter_ Forster, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and a string of visiting pro- fessors from every corner of the Reich had all visited Spanner’s section of the Institute. The Committee found it difficult to believe that the professors who ran the Institute had not been informed of the purpose of these visits and that they had not taken part in the formal reception of distinguished guests.

When asked whether he might not have guessed what Spanner was doing in the basement, one of the professors said: ‘Well, yes, I might have supposed that — because Germany was suffering from a great shortage of fats. And consideration for the economic situation of the country, for the good of the country, might have induced him to do so…’ The other professor replied: ‘Yes, I could have supposed that, had I known that he had received such orders, for it was well knwon that he was a disciplined member of the party.’ [note 25]

In their answers the professors did not show any indignation at what had been done in their name at their institute of learning; there was no hint of moral condemnation. The curious blend of economic and loyal Party-member reasoning, the underlying belief that if this was for Germany, then it was allowable are testimony to the effect that the Nazi system had worked on ordinary German lives, on the extent to which it had sanctioned and legitimised these ambitions and behaviour. They years of isolation from the values of the outside world had produced a fundamental change in the moral standards of the German people — even in those of the highly educated and privileged professors of the Danzig Medical Academy. The damage affected the very language these people used to explain what they had been doing, and thereafter it affected the way they thought about themselves. The Nazis covered over their brutal reducation of human variety with banal cliches of administrative jargon; they removed the burden of responsibility from each individual concerned. In doing so they made the unthinkable a daily event, and made normal moral revulsion and protest a question of disloyalty and race betrayal.

If what happened in Danzig was anything like a microcosm of what happened in Germany, then what happened in Spanner’s workshops was a microcosm of the indignity — even in death — of Germanisation and the camps. Spanner’s Institute was an image of the Nazi vision of the world — run on state subsidy, using SS staff, compliant academics and the co-operation of ordinary students. By the most economic means possible, it turned _Untermenschen_ and enemies of the Reich into a commodity that was useful to the German people.

Professor Spanner left Danzig to give a lecture in Halle an der Saale in January 1945. His last message to his team was that they should adhere strictly to his recipe and not allow the incinerator to overheat. He was never seen again.

Note 25: Ibid., p. 136.”

[A note from Nizkor, which publish this information on the Internet with a straight face:]

“The source for Carl Tighe’s information is unclear. Note 24 lists three sources; however, John Drobnicki checked all three, and they do not have any information on Professor Spanner on page 136, or on any other pages: H. S. Levine, _Hitler’s Free City_, Chicago, 1973; H. S. Levine, ‘Local Authority and the SS State: The Conflict Over Population Policy in Danzig- West Prussia 1939-45,’ _Central European History, vol. II, 1969; D. Orlow, _The History of the Nazi Party, 1919-1933_, Pittsburgh, 1969.”