The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans
|Subject||Holocaust, Hurricane Katrina|
|Genre||Nonfiction, Detective stories|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|Media type||Print and ebook|
|Pages||357 (U.S. hardback)|
|LC Class||D804.7.M67 J33 2010|
The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans is a 2010 nonfiction book by U.S. author Mark Jacobson. It recounts the attempt to ascertain the origin of a lampshade claimed to be made out of human skin.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a lampshade, purported to be made from the skin of a Jewish Holocaust victim, turned up in a sidewalk rummage sale in New Orleans. Purchased for $35 by Skip Henderson, the lampshade was sent to his friend Mark Jacobson, a writer living in New York. Jacobson embarked on a quest to discover the origin of the lampshade. Genetic testing initially confirmed it was made from human skin. However, because of the condition of the tanned skin, there was no way to determine the ethnic origin of the person whose skin was used, or if it was indeed a relic of the Holocaust.
Over the course of the next few years, Jacobson attempted to track down the origin of and examine the meaning of the lampshade, how it ended up in New Orleans, and to decide what to ultimately do with the gruesome object. Both the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem, declined to take possession of the lampshade, saying that the concentration camp lampshades made of human skin were probably a "myth". Over the course of his investigation, Jacobson examines the history of the Buchenwald concentration camp, where such objects were reputed to have been made, as well as the racial and post-Katrina history of New Orleans, the world of Holocaust deniers, the black market trafficking in such goods, and the mythology surrounding objects made from human skin.
In 2012 the lampshade was subjected to more sophisticated next-generation DNA testing and was found to be most likely cow skin.