Angels at the gates of Birkenau
The photograph featured is the central gates of Birkenau Concentration Camp, that splits the camp in two. The gates were open and have likely remained so since liberation in 1945. Upon visiting Birkenau, I was astonished at the size of the camp. Walking the perimeter of the camp with a few friends took about an hour. Birkenau is located in the middle of a woodland area, which is isolated from the outside world. The reason to the name ‘Angels at the gates of Birkenau‘, is due to the sense of liberation and the piercing light through the clouds.
After the war
Around 12 percent of Auschwitz’s 6,500 staff who survived the war were eventually brought to trial. Poland was more active than other nations in investigating war crimes, prosecuting 673 of the total 789 Auschwitz staff brought to trial. On 25th November 1947, the Auschwitz Trial began in Kraków, when Poland’s Supreme National Tribunal brought to court 40 former Auschwitz staff. The trial’s defendants included commandant Arthur Liebehenschel, women’s camp leader Maria Mandel, and camp leader Hans Aumeier. 22nd December 1947 saw the end of the trials, with 23 death sentences, 7 life sentences, and 9 prison sentences ranging from three to fifteen years. Hans Münch, an SS doctor who had several former prisoners testify on his behalf, was the only person to be acquitted – Wikipedia
Maintain a level of decency when exploring these camps. When visiting the camps, you may likely find many signs around the camp, which will inform whether photography is allowed and whether silence is required. Flash is prohibited at most locations and I actually don’t advise to use them (too invasive). If you have the equipment available, I recommend using a camera that is good in low light with a decent ISO rating. Think about the amount of equipment you are taking, you will likely be doing a lot of walking. Security guards will check all of your equipment before entry. Personally, I only took camera, lens, spare battery and carry bag. I recommend using a lens that is capable of ranged photography, such as the Sony SAL1680Z.