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Auschwitz Prisoner Identity Photographs

Article about: The images are well known. New arrivals, freshly "prepared" for the photo shoot, would leave behind lasting reminders of a dark and dismal past. The phrase "a picture paints a

  1. #1
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    Default Auschwitz Prisoner Identity Photographs

    The images are well known. New arrivals, freshly "prepared" for the photo shoot, would leave behind lasting reminders of a dark and dismal past. The phrase "a picture paints a thousand words", true as it may be, does not fit with these images. Rather, one finds a state of quiet reflection when confronted with this categorisation of human life.

    The man famous for taking approximately 50,000 of the estimated total of 200,000 images of this type, was Wilhelm Brasse, a German-Pole who at 22 years of age became a Schutzhäftling (protective prisoner) at KL-Auschwitz for attempting to flee Poland in early 1940. Brasse was trained in the art of photography, and was assigned the task of documenting many thousands of inmates for the Erkennungsdienst (identification department). Although the job likely saved his life, he was psychologically harmed to an extent were he was later unable to return to his former occupation. Photographing young Jewish twins, prior to their transfer to Josef Mengele's twisted experimentation laboratories at Camp BIIf in Birkenau, before their ultimate end within the Krematoria complex, was an arduous task which tortured him for many years.

    With the end approaching, the SS ordered the photographic records to be destroyed. Brasse and his fellow photographers managed to save about 20% of the total of 200,000 images estimated, resulting in around 40,000 examples that survive today.

    The method used was as follows...

    (displayed L-R on the identity card) Three images taken.

    Firstly, a side-on profile image of the prisoner.

    Next, a front-on portrait of the inmate.

    And finally, a third image, showing the front-on portrait again, this time with head looking toward the right, and headwear such as prisoner's cap or bandana present.

    Wilhelm Brasse died in southern Poland, during October last year. He was 95 years old.



    Regards,


    Carl
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Auschwitz prisoners identity images.jpg   Auschwitz prisoners identity images - Brasse.jpg  

    Wilhelm Brasse - Auschwitz photographer.jpg  
    Last edited by CARL; 03-05-2017 at 08:40 PM.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Auschwitz Prisoner Identity Photographs

    This is interesting, thank you for posting. I wonder how it was that so many photo records were successfully saved? I remember the impact of seeing these in-person lining corridors.

    Mat

  3. #3

    Default Re: Auschwitz Prisoner Identity Photographs

    Wilhelm Brasse was issued camp serial number: 3444

    The first Auschwitz inmates were brought in from the Oranienburg concentration camp in May 1940 and bore the Auschwitz inmate numbers: 1 to 30 these men were convicted German criminals, some of whom were Volksdeutsche and were described by Witold Pilecki as being "aspiring Germans". In the case of inmates no. 1 Bronisław Brodniewicz (also written Brodniewitsch) and known in the camp as "Bruno" together with inmate no. 30 Leon Wieczorek (also written Wietschorek) and known as "Leo" in the camp Pilecki described them as being "ex-Poles working for the Germans". These first German criminal inmates became camp Kapos whom Pilecki later ousted by various means replacing them with men form his Auschwitz resistance organisation.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Auschwitz Prisoner Identity Photographs

    Quote by ToxicGas View Post
    This is interesting, thank you for posting. I wonder how it was that so many photo records were successfully saved? I remember the impact of seeing these in-person lining corridors.

    Mat
    Yes Mat, it is indeed quite an experience to walk along that particular corridor, as it is anywhere among the various permanent exhibitions. The sheer volume of material to be disposed of, coupled with the fact that the SS staff would patently have been preoccupied with their own escape, leaves little doubt as to how some of the material thankfully survived.

    Regards,

    Carl
    Last edited by CARL; 01-01-2014 at 03:58 PM. Reason: spelling error
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

  5. #5

    Default Re: Auschwitz Prisoner Identity Photographs

    That's true Carl, I suppose it's a similar case to the crematoria, that still partially remain.

    Mat

  6. #6

    Default Re: Auschwitz Prisoner Identity Photographs

    How much more Auschwitz material I wonder remains "closed" in Russian archives?

    I was told by the Ravensbrück museum archive that the Russians probably still have materials for Ravensbrück which the museum cannot gain access too or which has not been catalogued at all.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Auschwitz Prisoner Identity Photographs


    Auschwitz-I, Stammlager (main camp): Block 26

    The image below shows Block 26, the location of the former Erkennungsdienst (ID records department), where the identification photographs were taken. The block also housed a cleansing section, where prisoners would take showers and undergo delousing procedures, as well as a store area for prisoners belongings. In the early period of the existence of the camp, the block was numbered 18, as part of the old numbering system that was in place prior to the expansion of the Stammlager. Part of this expansion is visible in the attachment, as the upper floor, which was added later, clearly shows.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture AUSCH-I-BLK26.jpg  
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

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    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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