Mark Van Alstine has transcribed some information about photographs taken at the Auschwitz camp, from _Auschwitz: a History in Photographs_, ed. by Teresa Swiebocka, published for the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum by Indiana University Press, 1993. Only minor formatting changes have been made to his post. From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Van Alstine) Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Subject: Re: Photos Deny the Myth Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996 01:05:57 -0700 Message-ID:
In article <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt Giwer) wrote: > In article <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org (Gord McFee) says: > >Fact is, although it was forbidden to do so, many SS took photographs of > >their "work", among them Fritz Jacob and Max Taeubner. Jacob's photographs > >survive. > > It appears you are saying people were forbidden to take pictures of what you > say the lack of pictures proves. Would you like to explain? Sure. Here it goes.... ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ _Auschwitz: a history in photgraphs_, ISBN 0-253-35581-8; pp. 34-42: "NAZI PHOTOGRAPHS "The Nazis wanted to record what they were doing, but on the other hand they were aware that photogtaphs of concentration camps would be damning evidence of their crimes. Accordingly, and in compliance with the general directives of SS_Reichsfu"hrer Heinrich Himmler and the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps, the Auschwitz authorities sought to forbid unauthorized photography of anything connected with the camp, directly or indirectly. Order No. 4/43, dated 2 February 1943 and signed by the camp's commandant, SS_Obersturmbannfu"hrer Rudolf Ho"ss, was explicit on this> Item 3 reads: 'I want to point out once more that taking pictures in the camp is forbidden. I shall punish with the utmost severity those who do not observe this order.' The only exception was for official photographs specifically authorized. "_Gestapo Photographs_ "At first, all photographs were made in a single laboratory known as the Erkennungsdienst (Reconnaissance Service) which was supervised by the Political Section--that is, the camp Gestapo. The head of the laboratory was SS-Hauptscharfu"rer Berhardt Walter and his assistant was SS-Unterscharfu"hrer Ernst Hofmann. The whole operation of developing the film, fixing the negatives, and printing photographs and enlargements was generally done by a team of ten to twelve prisoners. This process was supervised by SS men to ensure that the negatives and prints did not fall into the wrong hands. The finished photographs were handed over to the authorized recipients and their delivery was recorded; duplicate and defective prints scrupulously destroyed. Highly sensitive picture--for example, those of executions or the burning of bodies--were developed by the SS men themselves the most incriminating were printed only in a single copy, and the negatives would be destroyed when they had been handed over to the commandant. A major part of the photographs in the Museum are contact prints of headshots of prisoners: about 38,000, or just under 10 percent of the people who were registered in the concentration camp for forced labor. In this context, perhaps, it needs to be restated that Auschwitz had two functions: it was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps used as an instrument of terror and for forced labor, and later in the war it became the main centre to which Jews were deported to be murdered. Prisoners sent to Auschwitz in order to be interned there were registered and received prisoner numbers; until 1943, most were also photographed. These photographs comprised part of the camp records and were numbered consecutively. The majority are of Polish prisoners, since prisoners were photographed systematically only during the first years of the camp's existence, when it was used mainly for Poles. Jews sent straight to the gas chambers on arrival were not registered, had no prisoner numbers, and were not photographed. Of the relatively few Jews who were selected on arrival as beinfit fit for forced labor, only a very small proportion were photographed. The consequence is that there are therefore very few headshots of Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz; many of those which do exist are of Jews who happened to have been among groups of political prisoners sent to Auschwitz before 1942. "The practice of photographing prisoners was largely discontinued in 1943, except for particular groups of newcomers: Germans, for example, were photographed until the very end. The Erkennungsdienst also took photographs of captured partisans; of prisoners shot while trying to escape; of prisoners who committed suicide rather than face torture; and of the effects of medical experiments conducted on prisoners by SS doctors. However, except for the latter category, virtually none of these photographs have survived. Jews considered particularly 'interesting' because of their physical features or dress were also brought to the Erkennungsdienst to be photographed from time to time. "When the Nazis evacuated Auschwitz, they tried to destroy the photographs. Bronislaw Jureczek, a former Polish political prisoner, described how the photographs survived: "At almost the last moment we were ordered to burn all the negatives and photographs which were in the Erkennungsdienst. First we put wet photographic paper and also photographs and then a large number of photographs and negatives into a tile stove in such large numbers as to block the exhaust outlet. This insured that when we set fire to the materials in the stove only the photographs and negatives near the stove door would be consumed, and that the fire would later die out due to lack of air. After the war I learned that our assumption had been right, and that a high percentage of the photographs and negatives had survived and found their way into the right hands...Moreover, under the pretext of haste, I had deliberately scattered a number of photographs and negatives in the rooms of the labs. I knew that with the hurried evacuation of the camp, no one would have time to gather them all and that something would survive. "Supervision of the laboratory by the camp Gestapo was very strict because the photographs were considered top secret; even the slightest suspicion of a prisoner could result in a death sentence. Even so, prisoners working in the Gestapo photographic laboratory risked their lives may times to smuggle material out of the camp. According to Alfred Woycicki, another Pole who had worked in the laboratory: "Original photographs showing equipment and various scenes in the camp were sent out several times. In one case, they were pictures taken by someone i the women's section of Birkenau. I do not now the photographer's name. He was a Hauptscharfu"hrer who had been especially sent [to Auschwitz II-Birkenau] for this purpose by order of the RSHA. That was in late 1943 or early in 1944. The camp was informed about his arrival...He took a number of pictures in the women's camp and then brought then to the Erkennungsdienst on the same day to have them developed so he could decide if the pictures were good. Because of that, I saw all the pictures. Their contents so incriminated the camp authorities that I could not understand why they had been taken. One showed a pile of female bodies...Another showed the infirmary for women. Patients lay in total disorder; several naked and clearly exhausted. "Woycicki later testified that in spite of the exceptional vigilance of the SS he had managed to make one print of each photograph, and that these were smuggled out of the camp. Unfortunately, like many other photographs smuggled out of the camp, they have disappeared. "_The Murder of the Jews of Hungary: How the Evidence Survived_ "The best known of the SS photographs are those taken to record the arrival of the Jews from Hungary at Auschwitz II-Birkenau in 1944, the SS doctors' selection of those to be murdered immediately by gassing, and how the victims actually went to their deaths in the gas chambers. What is less well known is how these photographs survived. "The photographs come from an album found after the war by a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz named Lili Jacob (later Zelmanovic, now Meir). She came originally from Bilk, a small Slovak town annexed by Hungary in 1939. The Jews of Bilk were forcibly relocated to the ghetto in Berehovo, and on 24 May 1944 they were deported from Berehovo to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. When their train arrived there after an exhausting two-day journey, they had to undergo the life-or-death selection conducted on the railway ramp by SS doctors. Lili, then 18 tears old, her three elder brothers, and her father survived the selection. They were designated by the SS doctors as fit for work and were sent off for forced labor rather than to their deaths in the gas chambers of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Other family members, including her mother, two younger brothers, and more distant relatives, were not so lucky. In fact, Lili Jacob was the only one of that group to survive. "At the end of the war, Lili Jacob was in the Nordhausen-Dora camp, sick with typhus and in the camp hospital. Along with other sick prisoners she was rehoused by the liberating army in barracks that had formerly housed the SS. In searching the barracks for winter clothing, Lili came across the photograph album. In the album she found photographs of concentration camp prisoners, including--by remarkable coicindence--photographs not only of members of her family who had been murdered in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, but of herself in a roll-call of new women prisoners. Not surprisingly, she decided to keep the album. "After the war, Lili Jacob lived for a time in Czechoslovakia. In 1946, in desperate need for money, she attempted to sell the album to representatives of the Jewish community in Prague. They could not afford her price, but eventually she agreed to let them make negatives from the photographs in return for a smaller payment. Thirty were subsequently reproduced in a book entitled _The Tragedy of Slovak Jews_ which was published in Bratislava in 1949. "For several years thereafter, the negatives remained unused. In 1955, two Czech researchers who had themselves been in Auschwitz, Ota Kraus and Erich Kulka, were going through the archives of a Prague museum looking for material for a book when they came across two packets labeled 'Photographs from Auschwitz'. The packets contained 203 glass negatives in a 5x7-in format, and they recognized them as being photographs of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Knowing that in order to identify them properly they would have to go to Poland, they contacted a former Auschwitz prisoner in Poland for assistance. The person they was Jo'zef Cyrankiewicz, the Polish Premier; and at his invitation they went to the Auschwitz Museum taking sixty-four of the negatives with them. "Careful examination of the photographs in the Museum by Professor Jan Sehn and two former Auschwitz prisoners, Kazimierz Smolen' and David Szmulewski, confirmed their opinion. In an official note written on November 1956 they stated: 'Having analysed carefully the contents of the reproductions, we have come to the conclusion that, with the exception of two photographs, all the others are prints of photographs are prints made when great numbers of Jewish people were getting off at the railroad siding in Brzezinka [Auschwitz II-Birkenau]/ One set of these photographs was given to the Auschwitz Museum and another to Yad Vashem in Israel. However, the origin of the photographs was unknown, beyond the fact that a women in Prague had permitted negatives to be made in 1946. "Lili Jacob had meanwhile emigrated to the United States, taking the album with her. In 1961, in connection with the trial of Adolf Eichmann, an interview with her (now Lili Zelmanovic) was published in the United States in _Parade_ magazine in which she described how she had found the album and explained that she still had it in her possession. When the Auschwitz Museum learned of the interview, they wrote her and asked for more details. Her reply provided the information that has been given here. "The negatives found by Kraus and Kulka played an important role in the pre-trial investigations in connection with the trial in Frankfurt in 1963-65 of twenty-two former SS men from Auschwitz. When the existence of the original album was mad known, Lili Jacob was herself invited to testify in Frankfurt, bringing the album with her/ "The photos served to identify a former Blockfu"hrer, Baretzky, as one of the SS men present at the selection of Jews at the railway ramp. During this trial, Bernhardt Walter, former head of the Gestapo photographic laboratory, was questioned as to who had taken the photographs. During the pre-trial investigations by the German prosecutor's office, he had admitted that he had run a photographic laboratory in Auschwitz, but said that his only task had been to photograph the newly arrived prisoners sent to him in Auschwitz I. When he was shown photographs taken on the ramp at Auschwitz II-Birkenau he denied having taken them. He claimed that he had visited Auschwitz II-Birkenau only once, to take a panoramic view of the camp from the main guardhouse watch-tower, and that he had received the order to do so from Berlin. Questioned again, he admitted he had heard talk of the 'ramp', but denied that he had ever heard the term 'selection'. Asked who might have taken the pictures, he was unable to give definite answer but said that it could have been Ernst Hofmann, his assistant. Later he admitted having seen in the drying room of the laboratory photographs of groups of Jews that could perhaps have come from a set of pictures taken at the ramp. While he admitted that he had taken photographs of Jews brought to the Erkennungsdienst because their physical features or dress were considered particularly interesting, he again stressed that he had never taken pictures outside Auschwitz I, and repeated that Hofmann had been one of the 'outside' photographers. He did not question the authenticity of the photographs. He even admitted that they were official photographs, and that they could not have been taken from a hiding place. "During the trial, Walter continued to deny that he had ever been at the ramp. Baretzky accused him of lying and said that he had often seen him at the ramp riding a BMW motor cycle. Walter initially denied the accusation, claiming that he had had a smaller motor cycle; later he confessed that he had been at the ramp but had not said so earlier because he had not understood the questions of the court. "According to Herman Langbein's account of the trial, Walter eventually admitted he had taken the photographs at the ramp; however introductions to two books published almost simultaneously, Serge Klarsfeld and Peter Hellman both said that Walter was adamant to the very end that he had not taken the pictures. It is quite obvious that the photographs could only have been taken by an SS man authorized to do so: it could have been Walter, Hofmann acting with Walter's knowledge, or both of them. The latter seems the most probable. Bronislaw Jureczek, the former Polish prisoner mentioned earlier as having worked in the laboratory, said in his testimony, 'Boss Walter also took pictures of prisoners coming to Auschwitz by train.' Wilhelm Brasse, another former prisoner who had worked in the laboratory, said that 'Hofmann used to replace Walter in supervising prisoners at work, and like Walter, used to leave that place in order to take pictures outside.' When Brasse saw the photographs from the album he asserted: 'Some [photographs] were taken by Walter, some by Hofmann, and some were reproduced from a film delivered personally by the camp commandant, Rudolf Ho"ss. The photographs were placed in the album by Myskowkski, a prisoner working in the Erkennungsdeist he decorated the album and wrote the captions for the photographs, The album was made for the camp commandant.' "_Bauleitung Photographs_ "At the end of 1941 or the beginning of 1942, a second photographic laboratory was established in Auschwitz. This was operated by the Central Construction Office of the SS (Zentralbauleitung der Waffen SS) and was known as the Bauleitung laboratory. "The Bauleitung laboratory was under the direction of Dietrich Kamann, an SS man responsible for photographic documentation of the construction work in Auschwitz and its surroundings to supplement the Construction Office's written reports. Originally the Erkennungsdienst laboratory had been responsible for this, but because the staff there objected to doing location work in all weathers it was hard for Kamann to maintain the necessary records. Ludwik :Lawin, a Polish prisoner employed in arranging the photographs in albums to record the progress of construction, suggested to Kamann that he set up a separate photographic unit in the camp's construction office. The idea appealed to Kamann: having his own photographic unit would make him indispensable and help prevent him being sent to the front. He set about obtaining the necessary authorization and rapidly succeeded. "The majority of the Bauleitung photographs were taken in 1943, the year when building activity in Auschwitz II-Birkenau was at its peak. They provide a solid record of the very many types of construction undertaken: barracks for prisoners, drainage ditches, workshops and storage facilities, gas chambers and crematoria, and other buildings. "Lawin decided to keep some of the photographs he was supposed to be pasting into albums for Kamann--many of which had figured in Bauleitung progress reports, had been enlarged for display on the Bauleitung bulletin boards, or used in albums presented to SS dignitaries--so that he would have documentary evidence of Nazi atrocities. He later wrote: "I found it relatively easy to persuade Kubiak, a prisoner working as an assistant in the laboratory, to make contact prints from many negatives...I mean photographs which in my opinion had higher value than those connected with construction. I gave one set of prints to Dubiel [a prisoner assigned to work as a gardener]; I wanted him to have them in case I didn't survive. "Unfortunately those photographs have disappeared. However, Lawin buried another set of photographs beneath a waste dump near the Construction Office and took care to remember the place he had chosen. On 25 September 1946, a flask containing negatives of fifty-two photographs taken at Auschwitz was found in the exact spot Lawin specified, fourteen paces from the third barrack used by the Construction Office. "In 1982, the Auschwitz Museum received from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem about 500 negatives of photographs from an album called _Bauleitung_. The majority showed the construction and expansion of the camp and buildings in the vicinity of Auschwitz; some were identical to the photographs hidden by Lawin. The album had reached Yad Vashem via the Jewish community of Berlin, having probably been turned over to them by a Soviet general in October 1945. It had been carefully looked after by a member of the community, Heinz Cols, but in 1975 he had suggested giving it to a museum in Jerusalem. It was ultimately acquired by Yad Vashem, which later gave a set of the photographs to the Auschwitz Museum. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Mark -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties--but right through every human heart--and all human hearts." -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "The Gulag Archipelago" --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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