Rudolf Spanner

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A memorial tablet in Gdańsk, Poland, chronicling Rudolph Spanner's experiments.

Rudolf Spanner (born 17 April 1895 in Metternich bei Koblenz; died 1960) was Director of the Danzig Anatomical Institute during World War II. On his own initiative, he set up a process to produce soap from human fat in 1943-44 and a limited quantity of the soap was produced on his order to clean autopsy rooms.[1]

In his book "Russia at War 1941 to 1945", Alexander Werth reported that while visiting Danzig in 1945 shortly after its liberation by the Red Army, he saw an experimental factory outside the city for making soap from human corpses. According to Werth it had been run by "a German professor called Spanner" and "was a nightmarish sight, with its vats full of human heads and torsoes pickled in some liquid, and its pails full of a flakey substance - human soap".[2]

During the Nuremberg Trials, Sigmund Mazur, a laboratory assistant at the Danzig Anatomical Institute, testified that soap had been made from corpse fat, and claimed that 70 to 80 kg (154-176 lbs) of fat collected from 40 bodies could produce more than 25 kg (55 lbs) of soap, and that the finished soap was retained by Professor Rudolf Spanner. Eyewitnesses included British POWs who were part of the forced labor that constructed the camp,[which?] and Dr. Stanislaw Byczkowski, head of the Department of Toxicology at the Danzig School of Medicine.[3] Suggested sources for the fat include Stutthof concentration camp, Danzig Municipal Jail, and a Danzig psychiatric hospital.[4]

Allegations of large scale human soap production is true with origins dating back to World War I.[5][6] Holocaust survivor Thomas Blatt, who investigated the subject, found little concrete documentation and no evidence of mass production of soap from human fat, but concluded that there was indeed evidence of experimental soap making.[3]


  1. ^ Nałkowska, Zofia (February 2000). Medallions (Jewish Lives). Translated by Diana Kruprel. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0-8101-1743-6. 
  2. ^ Werth, Alexander (1964). Russia at War, 1941-1945. Dutton. p. 1019. 
  3. ^ a b Shermer, Michael; Alex Grobman; Arthur Hertzberg (2002). Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and why Do They Say It?. University of California Press. pp. 115–116. ISBN 0-520-23469-3. 
  4. ^ "Soap made from human remains". Nizkor. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  5. ^ "The Soap Myth". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  6. ^ "The Soap Allegations". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2006-12-13.