Montreal police: Soap not made from human remains

A lab analysis of a swastika-stamped bar of soap said to be made from Holocaust victims shows no human remains.

The beige bar, said to have been made during the Nazi era and put for sale at a Montreal curiosity shop, made headlines in March when the owner claimed it was made from the fat of Holocaust victims. The shop owner had said he bought it from a former soldier and that it was from Poland circa 1940.

Montreal police seized the item following complaints from Bnai B’rith Canada and a media frenzy. The incident also triggered debate over whether the Nazis made soap from human remains at all. The item was sent to a laboratory near Toronto, which conducted tests for both human and animal DNA. The soap tested negative for both.

“It’s just a regular bar of soap,” Montreal Police Inspector Paul Chablo told the Canadian Press.

Shop owner Abraham Botines said in a March interview with the Canadian Press that he didn’t know whether the soap was actually made of human remains. Botines, who is Jewish, said he had tried to sell the bar to a Holocaust museum. He was asking about $300 for the item.

Police don’t plan to pursue any charges, and the soap will be returned to the shop.

New film foams with the soap story of Dr. Bronner

Emanuel Bronner, creator of the company Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, was not your typical boardroom suit.

Third-generation soap-maker, escaped mental patient and son of Orthodox Jews and Holocaust victims, Bronner, who died in 1997, is the subject of a new documentary, “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox,” and in the film, the only suit Bronner wears is a swimsuit. That’s because his pool is one of the many pulpits from which Bronner preaches his messages of “All-One-God-Faith” and “The Moral ABCs,” both of which he pasted on every soap bottle he produced.

In the film, Bronner’s black sunglasses and passionate, Germanized speech make him a cross between mad scientist and preacher on a mission. He employs feverish, often religious rhetoric, invoking such names as Moses, Hillel, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha and Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz as prophets of one God. “All one! All one! All one!” Bronner insists throughout the movie.

“Dad’s intensity could drive you away,” Bronner’s son, Ralph, said in an interview, “because he also couldn’t control stopping.” Even when the camera turns to someone else, Bronner continues to rant in the background.

The film, which opens July 13 in Los Angeles, mythologizes Bronner but does not canonize him. His tragic flaw is his intense devotion to his mission, which caused him to neglect his children. Even though Bronner’s speech is intelligible, his ideas are so strange that subtitles had to be used. Clearly, it was hard for him to articulate his thoughts in a way that was understandable to other people.