Many a witness has claimed that the bodies of Holocaust victims were processed, and their body fat was used to manufacture soap and other fat-based products, such as lubricants for machinery. Such rumors started circulating in Poland in the summer of 1942 in connection with the deportation of the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. These rumors made their way to Jewish groups in neutral Switzerland, and from there to the U.S. government, who forwarded that “information” to the Vatican. In September 1942, Stephen Wise, Chairman of the World Jewish Congress, wrote a report about it, and the Jewish-owned New York Times quoted him on 26 November 1942. Already six days earlier, Heinrich Himmler reacted to Wise’s memorandum, ordering Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller to investigate the matter and to make absolutely sure that the bodies of deceased Jews are either buried or cremated, “and that nothing else can happen to these bodies at any location.” In other words: as soon as these rumors received public attention, the highest German authorities gave orders that explicitly prohibited the use of deceased Jews for anything.
It goes without saying that this did not stop the rumor mill. It was moreover fanned by the Allies, who actively invented and spread rumors to that effect. For instance, the British Political Warfare Executive claimed in one of its black-propaganda campaigns that the amputated limbs of German soldiers were processed to make soap from their fat content. The Polish underground helped out, too. In June 1944, an anonymous Pole made a deposition in Stockholm claiming that at Auschwitz the bodies of gassed Jews were turned into grease, then shipped off in packages labeled “Auschwitz Lubricant Factory.”
One claim frequently made in this context is that German pieces of soap bore the imprint RJF, allegedly standing for “Reines Juden Fett” – pure Jewish fat. In fact, during the war, Germany had an agency in charge of organizing and rationing the supplies of industrial greases and lubricants, called Reichsamt für Industrielle Fettversorgung (Reich Office for Industrial Fat Supply), abbreviated RIF. This was the text imprinted on their soap, not RJF.
During the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, the rumors of human fat turned into soap received the seal of official “truth” when the Soviets presented pieces of soap as evidence claiming that the fat which was the base ingredient of this product came from Jews who died in mass killings. The claim was supported by an affidavit claiming that a certain Professor Rudolf Spanner at the Anatomical Institute in Danzig had turned the fat of dead people into soap. This charge was echoed by the verdict as follows (IMT, Vol. 1, p. 252):
“After cremation [of the victims of mass murder] the ashes were used for fertilizer, and in some instances attempts were made to utilize the fat from the bodies of the victims in the commercial manufacture of soap.”
Today, however, no mainstream historian supports the thesis anymore that any attempt was ever made to turn the fat of deceased or murdered inmates into soap or any other related product.
However, this Professor Dr. Rudolf Spanner from Danzig really did exist, and 60 years later, the pieces of soap presented by the Soviets were analyzed. The conclusion was that they were produced either from human or from pig fat. When Dr. Spanner was interrogated in 1947/48, he explained the harmless origin of this primitive soap from the anatomical institute, created as a natural by-product of the legitimate and perfectly legal processing of corpses donated to his institute for research and education. After this interview, his case was shelved. This underscores the mendacity with which the Soviets had presented their pieces of evidence at Nuremberg.
None of this can stop the real believer though: In an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz International dated 11 February 2005, Jewish journalist Amiram Barkat reported about “Soap said made from Jews in Holocaust found in Israel.”
Here is a brief list of witnesses or their mouthpieces who repeated the false soap rumors as their own “knowledge”:
- Rachel Auerbach
- four distinguished university professors: Berthold Epstein, Prague; Bruno Fischer, Prague; Henri Limousin, Clermont-Ferrand; and Géza Mansfeld, Budapest
- Olga Lengyel
- Konrad Morgen
- Alexander Pechersky
- Abraham Silberschein
- Simon Wiesenthal
This “convergence of evidence” on the same lie proves the copy-cat or orchestrated nature of these witness testimonies.