Birmingham Daily Mail – 20th April 1917
Could this be an early ancestor of the Jews into soap and fertiliser story?
This black propaganda appeared in the First World War and circulated in the newspapers for a while. Is it possible that this rumour about the beastly but coldly efficient Germans entered the collective psyche and later resurrected itself in the Second world War?
I’ve found several versions of this article mostly being reported from April 1917 onwards.
GLYCERINE FROM BODIES OF DEAD SOLDIERS
WHAT GERMANS GAIN FROM GHOULISH PRACTICE.
There appear to good reasons (says the Lancet) for believing the Germans are utilising the bodies of their dead by committing them to a chemical treatment. which, for one thing, yields fat, and for another, nitrogenous powder, which serves, so it is stated, to enrich pig-feed, and. for yet another, the mineral phosphate of the bone, used a fertiliser the field.
The recovery of fat by what may appear to be a gruesome policy means, of course, a source of material for the making of glycerine and its nitro-derivative. The total amount of fat the human body varies immensely, but it may be said range from 2.5 per cent, to 5 percent. of the body weight. It is easy to see that in a period of heavy casualties this method for the disposal of the dead will yield a very material amount of glycerine. Thus 1,000 bodies, at an average weight of 10 stone (140lb.>, would yield on an average of 5 percent. basis of fat per body weight about two tons fat, capable of being turned into a tenth of its weight of glycerine—i.e., 4cwt. the published number of killed far exceeds this, the output of glycerine may have been increased proportionally, not mention the soap incidentally produced. The dividends of the enterprising company may. According to this calculation, quite satisfactory to the directors and shareholders.