Few photos exist of concentration camps during the Holocaust; however, some remarkable images depict the abject horror of the period, and their implications are deeply disturbing. One such collection, dubbed the Auschwitz Album, was discovered after the Auschwitz evacuation in a separate camp by a survivor who recognized members of her slain family. This camp was over 400 miles away.
The woman who found the photos came from a transport of Hungarian Jews, photographed from the time they departed transport trains up until they were ushered into the gas chambers. They were taken by two SS photographers, one who served three years in a Polish jail and another who disappeared after WWII. The album was ultimately donated to the Israeli government to assist in the prosecution of Adolf Eichman.
Another cache came from the Hoecker Album, which included pictures taken by SS member Karl Friedrich Hoecker of the Auschwitz staff during leisure time. The carefree demeanor of the staff is truly striking when contrasted with their sinister endeavor. Actual photos taken by the Sonderkommando, the prisoner unit that conducted operations in the Auschwitz gas chamber, also survived, transported out of the camp by Polish resistance.
These photographs of concentration camp facilities provide a haunting reminder of the incredible cruelty and destruction of the Holocaust, as well as a warning to future generations of the horrors of fascism, intolerance, and indifference.
Women And Children Selected For The ChambersPhoto: Anonymous, possibly SS photographers E. Hoffmann & B. Walter / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
This photo depicts women and children selected for gas chamber execution being forced to wait in a grove near the chambers.
Women And Children Wait Near A Crematorium
Execution Wall, Auschwitz
New Auschwitz Arrivals Walking To The ShowersPhoto: Anonymous, possibly SS photographers E. Hoffmann & B. Walter / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Auschwitz prisoners who asked to walk to the showers were allowed to survive; those who chose to wait for the trucks were executed.