Testimony of Sigmund Mazur before the International Military Tribunal in Nurenberg in the case of Danzig Anatomical Institute

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Testimony of Sigmund Mazur before the International Military Tribunal in Nurnberg, case of Danzig Anatomical Institute
19 February 1946

The prosecutor: The experiments of the Anatomical Institute in the production the soap from the corpses and tanning of human skin for industrial purposes were conducted on a wide scale. I submit a document[...] to the tribunal, which consists of the testimony of Sigmund Mazur, one of the direct participants of the production of soap from the human fat, he was helper-laboratory assistant at the Danzig Anatomical institute.[...]

"The question: Please tell us how soap was produced from the human fat at the Danzig Anatomical institute?

The answer: In summer of 1943 in the yard of the Anatomical institute a two-storey stone building containing three chambers was built. This building was designed for the purpose of utilizing corpses and cooking the bones, as the professor Spanner officially declared. The laboratory was defined as the institution of taking down skeletons, burning meat and superfluous bones, but in the winter 1943-1944 he the year of the prof Spanner instructed us to collect the human fat which was not to be thrown away any more. This order was given to Reichert and Borkmann.

Prof Spanner gave me the recipe for the production of soap from the human fat in February 1944. According to this recipe 5 kg of the human fat appertained to be mixed with 10 the litres of water and 500 to 1000 grams of the caustic soda. This mixture was cooked for two up to three hours, then it was allowed to cool. Then the soap rose to the surface, while water and settlings were under it. To this mixture a pinch of salt and soda was added and it was cooked again for two up to three hours. After cooling the soap was poured into a mould.

The prosecutor: I will present to the tribunal these moulds, in which the soap congealed, and half finished samples of soap from the human fat, found in Gdańsk. I quote farther:

"The soap had a very unpleasant scent: the Bilzo formula was added to remove it. [...]

Borkmann and Reichert picked the fat from human corpses, and I cooked soap from the bodies of men and women. The process itself of cooking occupied from three to seven days. During production in which I personally participated, more than 25 kg of soap was produced; on this about 70 to 80 kg of human fat was used, gathered from about four hundred corpses. We gave back ready soap to prof Spanner who kept them.

The case of producing soap from corpses was a matter of concern, as far as I know, to the nazi goverment. We had at the Anatomical institute inspections of the minister of education Rust, the minister of health dr. Conti, the gauleiter of Danzig Albert Forster, the professors of medical institutes also visited the institute.

I took 4 kg of this soap for washing and cleaning clothes. [...]Reichert, Borkmann, von Bargen and our boss, prof Spanner, they also used this soap. [...]

Just like with human fat prof Spanner instructed us to collect the human skin which after cleaning from the fat was subjected the working of some chemical substances. Works connected with human skin were led under the direction of the older assistant von Bargena and prof Spannera himself. Finished skins were packed in chests and used for purposes unknown to me."[1]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. Protocol of the trial before International Military Tribunal in Nurnberg from the day 19 February 1946: Tadeusz Cyprian, Jerzy Sawicki "People and the matters of Nurnberg", Publishing house Poznańskie, Poznan, 1967, s. 239-240. Translated from Polish wikisource article
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