Concept

Auschwitz Album

Summary
The Auschwitz Album is a photographic record of the Holocaust during the Second World War. It and the Sonderkommando photographs are among the small number of visual documents that show the operations of Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the German extermination camp in occupied Poland. Originally titled "Resettlement of the Jews from Hungary" (Umsiedlung der Juden aus Ungarn), it shows a period when the Nazis accelerated their deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. The images were taken by photographers from the camp's Erkennungsdienst ("identification service"). Among other things, the Erkennungsdienst was responsible for fingerprinting and taking photo IDs of prisoners who had not been selected for extermination. The identity of the photographers is uncertain, but it is thought to have been Bernhard Walter or Ernst Hoffmann, two SS men who were director and deputy director of the Erkennungsdienst. The camp's director, Rudolf Höss, also may have taken several of the photographs himself. The album has 56 pages and 193 photographs. Originally, it had more photographs, but before being donated to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, some of them were given to survivors who recognized relatives and friends. The images follow the processing of newly arrived Hungarian Jews from Carpathian Ruthenia in the spring and summer of 1944. They document the disembarkation of the Jewish prisoners from the train boxcars, followed by the selection process, performed by doctors of the SS and wardens of the camp, which separated those who were considered fit for work from those who were to be sent to the gas chambers. The photographers followed groups of those selected for work, and those selected for death, to a birch grove just outside the crematoria, where they were made to wait before being killed. The photographers also documented the workings of the Canada storage facilities, where the looted belongings of the prisoners were sorted before transport to Germany.
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