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 there 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.