Ilse Koch was the wife of Karl-Otto Koch commandant of the Nazi concentration camps Buchenwald and Majdanek. In 1947, she became one of the first prominent Nazis tried by the U.S. military.
After the trial received worldwide media attention, survivor accounts of her actions resulted in other authors describing her abuse of prisoners as sadistic, and the image of her as "the concentration camp murderess" was current in post-war German society.
She was accused of taking souvenirs from the skin of murdered inmates with distinctive tattoos, although those claims were rejected at both of her trials. She was known as "The Witch of Buchenwald" by the inmates because of her cruelty and lasciviousness toward prisoners. In English, she is referred to as: "The Beast of Buchenwald", "Queen of Buchenwald", "Red Witch of Buchenwald", "Butcher Widow", and, more commonly, "The Bitch of Buchenwald".