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Auschwitz-Birkenau

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1st July 1944

The Auschwitz Album is the only surviving photo album showing the process of the mass murder taking place in Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was found by Lilly Jacob shortly after the end of the war.

The photos were taken at the end of May or beginning of June 1944 either by Ernst Hofmann or by Bernhard Walter. They were two SS men responsible for taking ID photos and fingerprints of Auschwitz inmates (including the Jews who were not sent directly to the gas chambers upon their arrival).  The photos show the arrival of Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia. Many of them came from the Berehovo Ghetto.

Many of the photos in the album were taken on the ramp. The Jews then went through a selection process, carried out by SS doctors and wardens. Those considered fit for work were sent into the camp, where they were registered, deloused and distributed to the barracks. The rest were sent to the gas chambers. They were gassed under the guise of a harmless shower, their bodies were cremated and the ashes were strewn in a nearby swamp. The Nazis not only ruthlessly exploited the labor of those they did not kill immediately, they also looted the belongings the Jews brought with them.

The purpose of the album is unclear. It was not intended for propaganda purposes, nor does it have any obvious personal use. One assumes that it was prepared as an official reference for a higher authority, as were photo albums from other concentration camps.

The photos in the album show the entire process except for the killing itself.

There are 56 pages and 193 photos in the album. Some of the original pictures, presumably those given by Lilly to survivors who had identified relatives in the photographs, are missing. 

Auschwitz Album
The very first page of the Auschwitz Album. The German sign says ‘Ankunft des Transport-zuges’ which means ‘the arrival of the transport’

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