Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Is ‘Nazi Soap’ a Myth?

Play suggests no; historian says yes

Print Email

Every Holocaust museum visitor has likely encountered examples of the Nazis’ ghastly “recycling” of human bodies: gold teeth melted down, cremains used for fertilizer. So why is the Nazis’ alleged use of human fat to make soap so rarely presented alongside these other grotesqueries? That’s the central question of a new play by Jeff Cohen, The Soap Myth, which will open in New York on July 10—and which, according to the play’s promotional materials, suggests that fear of inciting the skepticism of Holocaust deniers may be the reason. “What are the evidentiary standards that apply to Holocaust research?” it asks. “Do Holocaust deniers, with their credo ‘false in one, false in all,’ play a role in determining those evidentiary standards? And if they do, should they?” The odd conceit is made only odder by a just-posted YouTube trailer that suggests random people interviewed in a park are somehow questioning the experience of an elderly, yarmulked man who relays a horrifying memory.

There’s one problem with this premise. The reason historians don’t publicize the “soap myth,” according to Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, who’s quoted in the trailer, is because it is, in fact, a myth. “There is no evidence that soap was actually manufactured out of human flesh, not because the Nazis were nice guys but because it was not economically feasible,” Berenbaum told Tablet. “We have at times tested soap that has been represented of being made of human fat and found that it was not made of human fat.”

“The Soap Myth” Premieres at Dog Run Rep [BroadwayWorld]
The Soap Myth [YouTube]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Is ‘Nazi Soap’ a Myth?

Play suggests no; historian says yes

More on Tablet:

Rediscovering the First Woman Rabbi

By Laura Geller — Ordained in 1935, Regina Jonas died at Auschwitz. Now, she’s being honored.