Haven't read the article yet -- will over lunch. This reminds me, though, of my favorite Judy Blume book growing up, Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself. There was a plot line in the book, which was set in the 40s, about an aunt and cousin who had been in Dachau. There was something about a lampshade made of skin. I always found it bizarrely unbelievable, or maybe so bizarre as to be believable.
When I was in grade school, I remember going to a museum where I saw a book bound in human skin, as well as a lampshade. For some reason, I think it was a railroad museum. I'm going to have to investigate this more, or call my mom to see if she'll remember.
I have seen the cattle cars before, at both the Holocaust museums in Washington, DC and Tampa, Florida. The reason I think I saw the book and lampshade at a railroad museum is that the room and display case fit into my memory of a field trip to a railroad museum - and don't fit into my visits to the Holocaust museums.
I don't know if I ever thought it was an urban legend or not, all I know is that when we were learning about the war in school, all these films and photos of starved people being released from camps were sortof... such a huge chunk of evil it was difficult to comprehend. And one day walking home from school, bunch of kids with books in hand one of the guys casually drops "yeah and the nazis made lampshades out of human skin." I ran home crying.
It's like when I watch Shindler's list, all horrific stuff and tense negotiations to save people going on and there's one fleeting moment that has me sobbing every time: it's the small group of children seen from a train leaving for another (death)camp, they are asked by their teacher if they have their grades and 4 year olds hold up slips of paper proudly. I'm tearing up right now.
It's the little things that really bring the horror home.