Karl Koch was born in Darmstadt, Germany in 1897. He was a bank clerk before joining the German Army during the First World War. He was captured by the British army and was held as a prisoner-of-war until October, 1919.
Koch joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in 1930. Later he became a member of the Schutz Staffeinel (SS). In 1934, Koch became a senior official in Lichtenburg Concentration Camp. Two years later he became the commandant of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.
Karl Otto Koch, a colonel of German Schutzstaffel (SS), was the first commandant of Buchenwald (from 1937 to 1941). In 1942, Otto and his wife Ilse received a punative transfer to Majdanek. In August 1943, Karl Koch was arrested by the Gestapo at the request of SS judge Josias Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont. Karl Otto was charged with the unauthorized murder of three prisoners, while Ilse was accused of the embezzlement of more than 700,000RM. Though Ilse was acquitted, Karl Otto was convicted and shot in April 1945.