I feel the title of this DVD is rather misleading - "The Bitch of Buchenwald" is supposed to portray the life and times of Isle Koch, the infamous wife of Karl Koch, commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp during WW II. Although it does portray aspects of Ilse's life especially during her husband's time as Buchenwald's commandant, the nefarious activities she was involved in and the fall-out from those activities, the documentary also focuses on other issues, especially of the rampant corruption amongst the SS in the concentration camp system. Despite this flaw, the documentary still makes for riveting viewing, especially since there is not much material on this infamous Nazi criminal.
Ilse Koch by all accounts seemed a nice enough young girl growing up, but then she joins the Nazi Party as an adult, meets and eventually marries Karl Koch who despite a patchy past would go on to become a concentration camp commandant. Ilse is portrayed as a loving mother through the photographs she kept in various albums, and also a dedicated wife (at least in the initial years of the marriage), but later, ugly and horrifying aspects of this woman's nature emerge. As narrated in the documentary, Ilse was very interested in the inner workings of Buchenwald, coming to the Appelplatz to see how prisoners were being processed. Her vicious and sadistic nature is well-documented - her insatiable appetite for sex, deliberately dressing provocatively to arouse prisoners' interest, and then reporting any prisoner who so much as glanced her way - the prisoner is then taken away to suffer a brutal punishment, often resulting in death. She has been known to set her dogs on prisoners for no apparent reason and watching the hapless be mauled. There are other gruesome reports associated with Ilse such as her penchant for collecting skins of inmates with interesting tattoos (who would be selected and killed) which would then be converted to lampshades.
Despite these gruesome details, the documentary never appears anything but objective - facts are presented as is, and based on events recorded in history, actual trials and witness reports. The most informative aspect of this documentary is actually the rampant corruption that has been documented as occurring throughout WW II amongst the SS, especially in the concentration camp system. SS guards, officers, etc, including Karl Koch and his wife were arrested for embezzlement. Karl was eventually found guilty by an SS court and executed in 1945, and Ilse was sentenced to prison by the Nazi court, where she remained in prison between late 1944/early 1945 before being acquitted, only to find liberation short-lived before being arrested by the US authorities in 1945. Ilse was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1947 before being pardoned by General Lucius D. Clay in 1949, but this caused such an uproar that she was re-arrested and tried by a West German court which found her guilty of instigation to murder (including severe beating of prisoners, possessing articles decorated in human skin, forcing inmates to indulge in cruel sport to the point of exhaustion and death) in 135 cases and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1951. Ilse Koch's life was brought to an abrupt end at her own hands in a German prison in 1967.
There are no bonus features on this DVD apart from a picture gallery consisting of photographs from Ilse Koch's albums.