Archive For The “Auschwitz & Birkenau” Category

Ghosts of Auschwitz & Birkenau

Ghosts of Auschwitz & Birkenau

Ghosts of Auschwitz

 

One thing that always came to my mind when photographing Auschwitz & Birkenau, was whether I would capture any lost souls. Just to clarify this photograph is a digital manipulation and not an actual ghost. Out of the hundreds of photo’s I captured, I haven’t noticed any yet. I start to think, had I been one of them victims I would not of wanted to stick around. There are photographs on the internet of apparent ghosts captured, however, these cannot always be trusted to be legitimate.

After speaking to a paranormal investigator on the topic of ‘ghosts’,  apparently SLR cameras are not the best to use due to the built-in filters (Infra red etc). I was recommended to use a decent compact camera instead, but my purpose of the visit was not to hunt ghosts.

 

Wilhelm Brasse

One photographer I admire is Polish born Wilhelm Brasse. Wilhelm was an inmate of Auschwitz Concentration Camp and was forced to take photographs for the SS. This skill had likely saved Wilhelm’s life, he was useful to the Nazi’s for which he also spoke German. Many of Wilhelm’s photographs can be seen at Auschwitz and at Yad Vashem. Wilhelm literally took thousands of photographs and many were destroyed before the liberation. Wilhelm had managed to store several hundred\thousand negatives from the Nazi’s and used this as evidence against them, he is considered a hero for this.

After the war Wilhelm never picked up a camera again which is very sad but completely understandable. Wilhelm stated “when I took a portrait photograph all I saw was dead people, I could no longer continue“. The trauma and experience of Auschwitz would haunt Wilhelm for the rest of his life until his death in 2012 age 94.

Wilhelm Brasse is a person I would love to meet, sit down at a table have some Polish food and talk about his experiences. As a photographer like Wilhelm, I cannot imagine shooting under these circumstances, but also knowing it was the camera that saved his life. A picture truly speaks a thousand words.

Wilhelm Brasse

Courtesy of http://www.visitare-auschwitz.it/

Photography Tips:

To create an image like this, I used two photographs and blended them together. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. When blending you need to get the tone, colour and transparency just right. Ideally you want to make the image look as real as possible. Digital photography and Photoshop has bought a new era in photography, with regards to digital art. Don’t shun digital photography use it to your advantage and create compelling masterpieces.

Auschwitz & Birkenau

 

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Angels at the gates of Birkenau

Angels at the gates of Birkenau

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

 

Photography Tips:

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.

Auschwitz & Birkenau

 

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Block 11, Auschwitz & Birkenau

Block 11, Auschwitz & Birkenau

Block 11

During my tour of Auschwitz I came across many different blocks, all initially designed for harrowing things. Block 11 was no surprise to me, I had read about it and heard about it from various sources. Anticipation (in a negative sense), came over me, I was about to walk into a building of such darkness and human depravity. This building does not disappoint, such disgust and shame to be part of a race that can do this to its own kind.

Hangman

Mini gallows, Block 11

When entering Block 11 you will pass a room with a long table and many chairs, this room is where SS sat and ordered either life or death. Upon a decision of death, the prisoner was then stripped of their clothing and either shot, hung or tortured. At the end of the corridor is a small noose for the hangings, which still stand to this day. Follow the stairs to the basement and you will notice a massive difference in the atmosphere, a dark, damp lonely place. The basement is where the torture happened, there is also a small room where the first gassings took place using Zyklon-B.  Due to the amount of tourists visiting the camps, I was rushed around and didn’t have much time to absorb the moment. If possible I would always recommend visiting the camps during the quiet months and try to avoid summer.

 

History of Block 11

There are many blocks at Auschwitz and all come with their own horrors, but 11 was the most feared. Block 11 was known for torture, brutality and death. The block had a variety of cells ranging from normal, dark and standing. The standing cells were 1 sq metre and had an air hole measuring 5×5 cm in diameter. Prisoners in these cells were expected to stand for up to 20 days and assuming they survived, forced to work afterwards. Prisoners were generally sent here due to: attempted escapes, aiding escapees or contact with civilians.

 

Photography Tips:

Too be honest photography is difficult in block 11 due to the amount of visitors, lack of light and flash restrictions. If I remember rightly most of the block prohibits photography, likely to these issues and also the historical nature of the building. I suggest putting the camera down and just absorbing the awful atmosphere as its important to feel the emotion in this block.

Auschwitz & Birkenau

 

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Shoes & Souls, Auschwitz & Birkenau

Shoes & Souls, Auschwitz & Birkenau

So many shoes, so many souls

 

The photograph you are observing is all the shoes stolen from the inmates of Auschwitz & Birkenau. It is difficult to comprehend how many shoes are sitting here. The photograph only captures a tiny section of the ‘wall’ of shoes. There is such a variety of footwear worn by adults and children of all ages. Some shoes appear rugged and some appear new, they all tell a different story. When the Soviet Union liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 1945, there were 43,000 pairs of shoes in the camp.

 

Children of Auschwitz

It is estimated that there were about 230,000 children and young people under 18 among the approximately 1,300,000 people whom the German Nazis deported to Auschwitz from 1940-1945. The majority of 216,000 were Jewish children. Over 11,000 were Gypsy (Roma) children, and the remainder included Polish, Byelorussian, Ukrainian, and Russian children. Only slightly more than 20,000 children and young people, including 11,000 Gypsies, were entered in the camp records. 650 of them lived to see freedom when Auschwitz was liberated.

 

The Little Shoes of Auschwitz

Conservation work involved in the cleaning of several thousand children’s shoes found after the Red Army liberated Auschwitz Concentration Camp in January 1945 will go on through most of August. The shoes are being cleaned by a group of six graduates of the specialized “Landmarks Renovator” program at the vocational school in Oświęcim, under the supervision of experts from the Museum Preservation Department.

These young people first came to the Museum when they were students, to help clean adults’ shoes. Many of them broke off working and wept when they came across children’s shoes. Now, as then, and despite their experience at such work, the task is not an easy one. First, soft brushes are used for the preliminary removal of dust. Next, they are mechanically vacuumed, washed, and lightly oiled with a mixture of white spirit, oil, and alcohol. The purpose of this is to make the leather more pliable and to reduce its propensity to absorb moisture from the air.

During the present work, one of the shoes was found to contain a small Nivea cream tin and a fragment of a letter in Polish. During the previous cleaning of the shoes, preservationists found fragments of French, Polish, and German newspapers used as lining or padding, letters with addresses, and two Hungarian banknotes from the World War II era – Auschwitz.org

 

Photography Tips:

The first rule of thumb when photographing any historical place such as Auschwitz is ‘respect’. Respect the rules and regulations the governing body has set, be respectful of other people, the atmosphere and what happened here. Do not take too much equipment, Auschwitz consists of lots of walking, stairs and rugged pave ways etc. You are also required to pass all of your equipment through security, so think ahead. I personally only took Camera, one lens, bag and cleaning kit. I did not take a flash as I couldn’t see the point, there are many locations where flash is not allowed. Also the other tourists do not want to be blinded by bright flashing lights whilst visiting a place like this. Flash is no good when shooting the shoes, due to the reflections in the glass. Shoot in RAW format is possible, after-all this place is raw. Ideally you should aim to capture the detail and personality of this place.

Auschwitz & Birkenau

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Final Journey, Auschwitz & Birkenau

Final Journey, Auschwitz & Birkenau

The Final Journey

The final journey, for many this was the sad truth. The photograph was captured in March 2016, a photography project on the holocaust (still in the making). The image actually consists of two photographs blended together. I like to tell a story with my photography and the railway line leading to the entrance, emphasizes the trip to death. The image is in black and white to represent its historical and dark nature, I did not feel colours were needed here.

 

Gas and Burn

The photograph you are observing is one of the gas chambers and crematorium at Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland. The  building was initially used as a munitions bunker when occupied by the Polish Army before invasion of Poland. The Nazi’s obviously favored this building for another use, due to its secure construction and isolation from the rest of the barracks. The building is built from thick concrete, designed to damper an explosion as much as possible, hence why munitions were stored here. The building is divided in two parts, one is the gas chamber that could ‘squeeze‘ in about 300 people and the other part was the crematorium.

It is extremely difficult to comprehend what happened here and how the crematorium workers (prisoners) felt. I struggle to imagine observing hundreds of people entering the chamber and the crematorium workers knowing, they will soon be burning their bodies. The poor innocent people who had to experience this, being a father myself, I cannot understand how anyone could murder these people, especially the children.

 

Psychology

Being a student of Psychology myself, it amazes me how humans have this ‘dark side’ and can be so evil. All it takes is one man’s insanity and ability to spread hatred, for which some people have a tendency to accept this way of ‘authoritarianism‘ attitude and will happily follow the orders given. Humanity must learn from this, we must accept that we are capable of dire things but we are also capable of beautiful things. We must not ignore what happened here and ignore the authoritarian complex built into all of us.  History should be a learning tool, a manual on humanity for which can guide us through our journey, but it does seem that history can repeat itself. I sincerely hope this event is never repeated, otherwise this could be humanities final journey.

 

Photography Tips:

The first rule of thumb when photographing any historical place such as Auschwitz is ‘respect’. Respect the rules and regulations the governing body has set, be respectful of other people, the atmosphere and what happened here. Do not take too much equipment, Auschwitz consists of lots of walking, stairs and rugged pave ways etc. You are also required to pass all of your equipment through security, so think ahead. I personally only took Camera, one lens, bag and cleaning kit. I did not take a flash as I couldn’t see the point, there are many locations where flash is not allowed. Also the other tourists do not want to be blinded by bright flashing lights whilst visiting a place like this. Shoot in RAW format is possible, after-all this place is raw, ideally you should aim to capture the detail and personality of this place.

Auschwitz & Birkenau

 

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Bed, if you can call it that

Bed, if you can call it that

Bed

What you are observing is a monochrome photograph of a ‘Bed’ at Auschwitz & Birkenau. I use the term ‘bed’ very loosely, as this is the complete opposite of what a bed should be. How anyone could’ve got any sleep in this hole is a mystery, the blocks are cold, hard, rugged and generally uncomfortable. Also have to take in account of the fear, disease and hunger these poor human beings suffered in the hands of the Nazi’s and Capo’s. My trip to Auschwitz & Birkenau in March 2016 will stay with me for a life time and so it should, these atrocities should never be forgotten.

When capturing this image ‘Bed‘, I wanted to show how raw and horrifying these camps were and also show their historical nature. This is the reason to the monochrome tone and sharp detailed appearance. Should you be interested in visiting the camps please click here for a detailed blog of my experiences.

Conditions – Auswitz.org

Auschwitz Concentration Camp opened in former Polish army barracks in June 1940. Twenty brick buildings were adapted, of which 6 were two-story and 14 were single-story. At the end of 1940, prisoners began adding second stories to the single-story blocks. The following spring, they started erecting 8 new blocks. This work reached completion in the first half of 1942. The result was a complex of 28 two-story blocks, the overwhelming majority of which were used to house prisoners. As a rule, there were two large rooms upstairs and a number of smaller rooms downstairs. The blocks were designed to hold about 700 prisoners each after the second stories were added, but in practice they housed up to 1,200.

During the first several months, the prisoners’ rooms had neither beds nor any other furniture. Prisoners slept on straw-stuffed mattresses laid on the floor. After reveille in the morning, they piled the mattresses in a corner of the room. The rooms were so overcrowded that prisoners could sleep only on their sides, in three rows. Three-tiered bunks began appearing gradually in the rooms from February 1941. Theoretically designed for three prisoners, they in fact accommodated more. Aside from the beds, the furniture in each block included a dozen or more wooden wardrobes, several tables, and several score stools. Coal-fired tile stoves provided the heating.

In the first months, the prisoners drew water from two wells and relieved themselves in a provisional outdoor latrine. After the rebuilding of the camp, each building had lavatories, usually on the ground floor, containing 22 toilets, urinals, and washbasins with trough-type drains and 42 spigots installed above them. The fact that prisoners from the upstairs and downstairs had to use a single lavatory meant that access was strictly limited.

Two types of barracks, brick and wooden, housed prisoners in the second part of the camp, Birkenau. The brick barracks stood in the oldest part of the camp, known as sector BI, where construction began in the fall of 1941. Inside each of them were 60 brick partitions with three tiers, making a total of 180 sleeping places, referred to as “buks,” designed to accommodate 4 prisoners. The SS therefore envisioned a capacity of over 700 prisoners per block. At first, the buildings had earthen floors. Over time, these were covered with a layer of bricks lying flat, or with a thin layer of poured concrete. The barracks were unheated in the winter. Two iron stoves were indeed installed, but these were insufficient to heat the entire space. Nor were there any sanitary facilities in the barracks. Only in 1944 were sinks and toilets installed in a small area inside each block. Nor was there any electric lighting at the beginning.

Wooden stable-type barracks were installed in segment BI, and above all in segments B2 and B3. These barracks had no windows. Instead, there was a row of skylights on either side at the top. A chimney duct, which heated the interior in the winter, ran almost the entire length of the barracks. The interior was divided into 18 stalls, intended originally for 52 horses. The two stalls nearest the door were reserved for prisoner functionaries, and containers for excrement stood in the two stalls at the far end. Three-tier wooden beds or three-tier wooden bunks intended for 15 prisoners to sleep in were installed in the other stalls, for a total capacity of more than 400 prisoners per barracks.

In the brick blocks, prisoners slept on straw strewn on the boards of the buks; paper mattresses stuffed with so-called “wood wool” were placed on the beds or bunks in the wooden barracks.

The number of prisoners that the barracks were supposed to hold should be treated as only a starting point, since the actual number was often much higher. It varied according to the size and number of transports arriving at any given time.

During the first year or so, water in sector BI was available only in the kitchen barracks, and prisoners had no access to it. Unable to wash, they went around dirty. They had to perform their bodily functions in outside privies. The barracks were frequently damp, and lice and rats were an enormous problem for the prisoners. It is therefore hardly strange that epidemics of contagious diseases erupted frequently. Sanitary conditions improved to a certain degree in 1943, when each part of the camp was outfitted with a bathhouse and equipment for disinfecting clothing and linen. Nevertheless, the capacity of these facilities in proportion to the number of prisoners limited the possibilities for making use of them. In sector BI, for instance, there were 4 barracks with sinks for washing (90 spigots per barracks), 4 toilet barracks (a sewer with a concrete lid that had 58 toilet openings in it), and 2 barracks containing toilets and sinks—for a sector containing 62 barracks housing prisoners. The prisoners also had limited opportunities for bathing. Additionally, they had to undress in their own barracks before doing so and, regardless of the weather, walk naked to the bathhouse. For many prisoners, this led to sickness and death – Auscwitz.org 

Tips when photographing these camps

I highly doubt I need to mention ‘respect’, always maintain a level of decency when exploring these camps which also includes not talking too loud. You will find many signs posted around the camp which will inform you whether photography is allowed and whether silence is required. Flash is prohibited at most locations and I actually don’t advise to use them,  it’s not fair on other people visiting the camps getting flashed at all the time. If you have the equipment available I recommend using a camera that is good in low light and a lens with a big aperture such as F1/2/3

I also would advise on not taking too much equipment, you will be doing a lot of walking and all the gear has to pass through security. I literally only took camera, lens, spare battery and carry bag that was it. Try and take one lens a good all-rounder, I used the Sony SAL-1680Z, I do however wish I took something with a larger zoom.

I hope my ‘Bed‘ post was in some way beneficial and educational

International Photography Awards

Honorable Mention 2016, ‘Road to Nowhere’ in ‘Travel & Tourism’ category

Auschwitz & Birkenau

 

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Arbeit Macht Frei

Arbeit Macht Frei

Arbeit Macht Frei

The infamous slogan used at Nazi concentration camps, this one was captured at Auschwitz, Poland.

The expression comes from the title of a novel by German philologist Lorenz Diefenbach, Arbeit macht frei: Erzählung von Lorenz Diefenbach (1873), in which gamblers and fraudsters find the path to virtue through labour. The phrase was also used in French (“le travail rend libre!”) by Auguste Forel, a Swiss entomologist, neuroanatomist and psychiatrist, in his “Fourmis de la Suisse” [“Ants of Switzerland”] (1920). In 1922, the Deutsche Schulverein of Vienna, an ethnic nationalist “protective” organization of Germans within the Austrian empire, printed membership stamps with the phrase Arbeit macht frei.

The slogan “Arbeit macht frei” was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. The slogan’s use in this instance was ordered by SS General Theodor Eicke, inspector of concentration camps and second commandant of Dachau Concentration Camp.

The slogan can still be seen at several sites, including over the entrance to Auschwitz I where, according to BBC historian Laurence Rees in his “Auschwitz: a New History”, the sign was erected by order of commandant Rudolf Hass. This particular sign was made by prisoner-labourers including Jan Liwacz. The sign features an upside-down ‘B’, which has been interpreted as an act of defiance by the prisoners who made it.

In 1933 the first political prisoners were being rounded up for an indefinite period without charges. They were held in a number of places in Germany. The slogan was first used over the gate of a “wild camp” in the city of Oranienburg, which was set up in an abandoned brewery in March 1933 (it was later rebuilt in 1936 as Sachsenhausen). It can also be seen at the Dachau concentration camp, Gross-Rosen concentration camp, and the Theresienstadt Ghetto-Camp, as well as at Fort Breendonk in Belgium. It has been claimed that the slogan was placed over entrance gates to Auschwitz III / Buna/Monowitz. The slogan appeared at the Flossenbrg camp on the left gate post at the camp entry. The original gate posts survive in another part of the camp, but the slogan sign no longer exists. Primo Levi describes seeing the words illuminated over a doorway (as distinct from a gate) in Auschwitz III/Buna Monowitz

At Buchenwald, “Jedem das Seine” (literally, “to each his own”, but idiomatically “everyone gets what he deserves”) was used.

In 1938 the Austrian political cabaret writer Jura Soyfer and the composer Herbert Zipper, while prisoners at Dachau Concentration Camp, wrote the Dachaulied (The Dachau Song). They had spent weeks marching in and out of the camp’s gate to daily forced labour, and considered the motto “Arbeit macht frei” over the gate an insult. The song repeats the phrase cynically as a “lesson” taught by Dachau. (The first verse is translated in the article on Jura Soyfer.)

In The Kingdom of Auschwitz, Otto Friedrich wrote about Rudolf Hoss, regarding his decision to display the motto so prominently at the Auschwitz entrance:

He seems not to have intended it as a mockery, nor even to have intended it literally, as a false promise that those who worked to exhaustion would eventually be released, but rather as a kind of mystical declaration that self-sacrifice in the form of endless labour does in itself bring a kind of spiritual freedom.

Considering the role played by the Auschwitz prisons during the Holocaust as well as the individual prisoner’s knowledge that once they entered the camp freedom was not likely to be obtained by any means other than death, the cruel comedy of the slogan becomes strikingly clear. The psychological impact it wrought on those who passed through the gates of each of the camps where it was seen was incredibly powerful.- Wikipedia

Photography Tips:

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.

Click here to visit Auschwitz.Org

Auschwitz & Birkenau

 

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Blocks of Hell, Auschwitz & Birkenau

Blocks of Hell, Auschwitz & Birkenau

Blocks to Hell

Blocks at Birkenau Concentration Camp

 

Blocks of Hell

A blended image consisting of two images taken at Auschwitz and the Salt Mines in Poland. I have created a look and feel of the entrance to hell. These blocks are very rough, uneven, cramped, cold and horrible, yet thousands of people were forced to survive in these appalling conditions.

History

After the Soviet Union handed over the camp to Poland in 1947, the parliament declared the area to be a museum on July 2, 1947. Simultaneously the first exhibition in the barracks was opened. In Stalinist Poland, on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the first deportation of Polish captives to camp Auschwitz, the exhibition was revised under assistance of former inmates. However, this exhibition was influenced by the Cold War and next to pictures of Jewish ghettos. Photos of slums in the USA were presented.

After Stalin’s death, a new exhibition was planned in 1955, which is basically still valid today. In 1959 every nation who had victims in Auschwitz received the right to present its own exhibition. However, victims like homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Sinti and Roma and Yeniche people did not receive these rights. The state of Israel was also refused the allowance for its own exhibition as the murdered Jews in Auschwitz were not citizens of Israel. In April 1968 the Jewish exhibition, designed by Andrzej Szczypiorski, was opened. A scandal occurred in 1979 when Pope John Paul II held a mass in Birkenau and called the camp a “Golgotha of our times”.

In 1962 a prevention zone around the museum in Birkenau (and in 1977 one around the museum in Auschwitz) was established in order to maintain the historical condition of the camp. These zones were confirmed by the Polish parliament in 1999. In 1967 the first big memorial monument was inaugurated and in the 1990’s the first information boards were set up. – Wikipedia

Photography Tips:

The featured image is a blend of two photographs using Photoshop. The black and white tones helps highlight the only colour in the image. I wanted a feeling of ‘Hell’ to come through on this image, but maintaining the historical look. Blending is a great technique to play with, you can turn a couple of photos into a new art piece.

 

International Photography Awards

Honorable Mention 2016, ‘Road to Nowhere’ in Travel & Tourism category

Auschwitz & Birkenau

 

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A Noir Moment, Block of experiments

A Noir Moment, Block of experiments

A noir moment

A Noir Moment, a flight of stairs in Block 10 or 11 of Auschwitz concentration camp. The stairs were very rugged, worn and haunting. As I walked these stairs, I often wondered who had walked them when the camps were active.

Block 10

Block 10 was a cell block at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp where women and men were used as experimental subjects for German doctors. The experiments in Block 10 ranged from skin testing for reaction to relatively gentle substances to giving phenol injections to the heart for immediate dissection.

Although Block 10 was in the men’s camps, the experiments conducted were mostly for women. The Germans would house prostitutes in Block 10. The main doctors who worked in Block 10 were Carl Clauberg, Horst Schumann, Eduard Wirths, Bruno Weber and August Hirt. Each of them had different methods in doing experiments on the inmates.

The victims at Auschwitz were also exported anywhere else experimental subjects were needed. For example, twenty Jewish children were transported to the Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg where they were injected with virulent tubercular serum and subjected to other experiments, and later murdered at the Bullenhuser Damm school.

The doctors

  • Carl Clauberg  He focused on sterilization by injection. His method was to inject a caustic substance into the cervix in order to obstruct the Fallopian tubes. His experimental subjects were married women between the ages of twenty and forty who had already had children.
  • Horst Schumann  His experimental subjects were healthy men and women in their late teens or early twenties, on whom he attempted X-ray sterilization. Women were put between plates that pressed against abdomen and their back. He placed the penis and scrotum on a special plate. Radiation burns and intestinal damage were a frequent result. – Wikipedia

Alina Dabrowska

Alina Dabrowska was one of the victims of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, or the Angel of Death. He and his team carried out the most cruel experiments on the prisoners they considered guinea pigs. They thought of them as animals and treated them as such. Grotesque operations, sterilizations, attempts to change eye colour and join twins together. The side effect was often death and Mengele did not care.

Alina was injected with typhus so they could test various crude medicines on her. She had the highest fever she has ever experienced and hallucinations. She was convinced she was going to die. But she survived, and still survives to tell her story – itv.com

Photography Tips:

This photograph is all about perspective. Most who observe this image would not know it was Auschwitz. The image has purposely been designed in a sketch form and in monochrome. The image needs to tell its own story. When capturing photo’s like this, shoot unconventionally, find different angles and view points. I am a fan of film noir and wanted to show this with my photography.

Auschwitz & Birkenau
The Sauna

The Sauna

“Die Zentrale Sauna.”, called by the Nazi’s or ‘The Central Sauna’, by the rest of us. These big black ominous units are delousing chambers used to clean the clothes of the unfortunate Jews upon their arrival.

The so-called “Central Sauna”, “Central Sauna” or “New Sauna” (officially BW 32) was a one-story brick building in the Auschwitz concentration camp . It served as a “Entwesungs – and disinfection system ” when recording deported people in the Auschwitz should remain as a prisoner. This largest object in the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was put into operation for the first nine months of construction in mid-December 1943 rd The “Central Sauna” was located in the bearing portion BIIg close to Effektenlager Canada. 

During the recording procedure, the newly registered prisoners had in the various rooms of the building first shed their clothes and under observation of the SS guards showers cold or hot. Then they got concentration camp inmate clothing and footwear. Thereafter, the prisoners shorn hair, and it often came to injury of the scalp. Jewish prisoners were in the Central Sauna by camp doctors a renewed selection subjected and those who still were not considered “fit for work” were in the gas chambers killed .

Subsequently, to remain in the camp provided prisoners were registered (Access). For the new prisoners had their personal information form (name, last residence, relatives, professional, etc.) that have been recognized prisoners of receiving commands on forms, the so-called prisoners’ personnel records. The inmate personnel records were later on the file (primer, einweisende agency etc.) added. Last came the tattoo of prisoner number on the left forearm, which in other concentration camps was not practiced. The peculiarity of the tattoo of the prison number was introduced in Auschwitz in the autumn of 1941, to identify the bodies because of the high death rate of prisoners. After the completion of the recording procedure, the inmates were brought into the quarantine camp or transferred to prisoner blocks.  In the following days, the prisoners were still photographed what was practiced regular way until 1943.

Periodically already taken prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp and their clothes were in the “Central Sauna” disinfected, especially before transfers to other concentration camps. More saunas were in the main camp of Auschwitz in block 26 and in Auschwitz Birkenau in the bearing portions Bla and Blb. – Wikipedia

10% of profits from a purchase of the ‘Auschwitz & Birkenau’ collection, will be donated to the Auschwitz & Birkenau museum.

http://auschwitz.org/en/

Welcome to Hell – Auschwitz

Welcome to Hell – Auschwitz

How to get to Auschwitz & Birkenau

24/03/2016 was the day myself and a few friends left England and flew to Krakow airport via Ryanair. The flight itself was just over 2 hours (Stansted – Krakow) and cost about £160 for a return trip. From Krakow airport we then booked a taxi to central Krakow where my hotel (Maksymilian Hotel) was located, the taxi took about 20 minutes and cost 89 Zl (£16). Our planned travel to Auschwitz was on 25/03/2016, from our hotel we got a taxi to the bus station which took about 10 minutes and cost around 20 Zl (£4). A single bus (minivan in my case) ticket to Auschwitz cost 12 Zl (£2.20) each way (very cheap!), the journey took about 90 minutes as you are travelling to Oswiecim which is 66 Km away from Krakow. One thing to be careful of,  the bus driver may ask you to book a return ticket before you leave, my advice is don’t as they leave at specific times and locations, you can sometimes wait hours for the same driver to arrive. There are loads of different bus drivers (different companies) coming back and forth from Auschwitz and you will not struggle to find one  back to Krakow, again they all charge pretty much the same price.

Our time in Poland, we never struggled to find a taxi or bus and their prices are generally very cheap.  Polish taxi’s charge by distance only, not time. Taxi drivers are generally very friendly and informative assuming you get a well-spoken driver who speaks English. We always requested our  hotel receptionist to book our taxi for us, as we knew they were legitimate cabs.

Arriving at Auschwitz

When our taxi driver dropped us off, we had a short walk (2-3 minutes) to the camp entrance. We arrived just after 09:00 am and the place was packed, there were queues which mainly consisted of tour groups and there is a different queue line for individual tourists. Auschwitz is visited by over 1 million tourists a year so expect it to be busy. Despite the queue lines we got in fairly quick, you will be checked by security guards and have to walk through a metal detector (do not walk your camera through the metal detector, give it to the security guard). Auschwitz is free to get in, however, I did book my tickets online and booked my entrance time, which helps speed up the process, I advise you do this before your trip and make sure you print your tickets out. Outside of  Auschwitz entrance there are huts where you can buy tea, coffee and a sandwich, so don’t worry about taking lunch as you cannot eat or drink on the premises.

There is also a small book store located inside the entrance, the prices are expensive and the books they sell you can pick up online a lot cheaper. There are also plenty of toilets on the premises and lockers to store your possessions if required (we didn’t use the lockers).

Auschwitz

I am not going to tell you a great deal about Auschwitz as you need to experience it yourself, but trust me the experience will stay with you for a lifetime. One thing to be aware of Auschwitz is not easy to travel around the paths are cobbled, bumpy and uneven. If your mobility is not great just take your time and use a walking stick if required, it is very easy to trip over so be observant. Auschwitz has pretty much been left as it was found, and rightfully so. One thing that entered my mind regarding the cobbled paths, was how difficult and painful it must have been for the prisoners to walk around the camp in their bare feet or rugged shoes. Auschwitz is smaller than I thought it would be and 3 hours is enough time to navigate around and visit the blocks. Despite it being smaller than I initially expected, it is as harrowing and horrific as I expected and Auschwitz does not disappoint in engaging your thoughts and emotions. I tried to place myself in the prisoner’s shoes everywhere I went, it was extremely difficult to do because it’s  very hard to imagine the intense cruelty the Nazi’s bestowed upon these people. The atmosphere at Auschwitz is actually very busy and quite noisy due to the amount of people attending, however, you will walk into certain blocks and experience an eerie silence especially block 11 which is known as the block of death, which is rather ironic as every block is the ‘block of death’ in some way.

One thing that will surprise you and is also very difficult to observe, is the amount of photos taken (Wilhelm Brasse) and displayed in the museum, the Nazi’s were very good book keepers (when they wanted to) and documented prisoners in great detail. You will see thousands of photos of the victims who perished there, the expressions on their faces highlights the brutality they faced on a daily basis.

Birkenau

To get to Birkenau there is a free shuttle service outside the entrance of Auschwitz, the shuttle only takes about 5 minutes for which you will then see the infamous gatehouse of Birkenau. When I said Auschwitz was smaller than I thought, Birkenau was much larger than I thought, the reason for this was purely to exterminate as many people as possible. Observing the railway track and carriage was emotional, knowing this was the final journey for millions of people. Upon arriving at Birkenau you will notice how massive the camp is, the sheer size of it is daunting. It took myself and a two friends about 60-90 minutes to walk the perimeter of the camp. You will come across many barracks and most of them were closed, however, you can walk in a few of them and observe the horrific conditions people had to endure. There are a lot of buildings that were destroyed by the Nazi’s themselves and also the prisoners during uprisings. At the back of the camp you will come across the pond where human ash was dumped and fields where piles of bodies weren’t burnt. I recommend if you can, to walk the entire camp and witness as much as you can as you will read and observe many different stories and experiences these poor people went through. Birkenau is very different to Auschwitz, there is less to read and  less museum like, however, the atmosphere and nature of the place tells a different story and is home to the ‘so called’ doctor Dr Mengele.

Birkenau is very vast and quiet compared to Auschwitz, it is situated in some beautiful woods, just a shame these woods are tarnished by the atrocities that happened here. You can’t help but notice that every step you take around Birkenau; you are literally standing at a place where someone potentially died. You won’t enjoy your visit unless you are a sadist, however, the visit is interesting, informative and like no other. I would always recommend people to visit if possible, if you only do it once in your life and too be honest once is enough. I also encourage you to talk about it and share your experiences with your family and friends, as this must never be forgotten. I sincerely hope humanity can learn from this and to never be repeated again, only time will tell.

Photography Tips

You will encounter a lot of walking when visiting these camps, so think about what equipment you need on the day. If you are using a SLR\SLT  camera think about a lens that can do a bit of  everything, if you are taking a tripod I recommend something small like a Manfrotto Travel tripod. The ground at Auschwitz is not very stable so you may struggle using a tripod, I personally didn’t take one, I literally just took Camera, Lens, Battery and that’s it. I have recently purchased a Lowepro sling bag which I highly recommend and wish I had this when visiting the camps. 90% if the time you can use your camera at the camps, some areas you can’t use a flash and some areas you can’t take a picture at all, there will be signs informing what you cannot do, so respect the rules.

Bit of advice, after your visit go to a nice restaurant eat some lovely polish food and have a few drinks, you will likely need it.

10% of profits from a purchase of the ‘Auschwitz & Birkenau’ collection, will be donated to the Auschwitz & Birkenau museum.

http://auschwitz.org/en/

Auschwitz & Birkenau
Zyklon

Zyklon

Zyklon-B the gas used to exterminate the Jews and many others at Auschwitz & Birkenau, Poland.

Zyklon B was the trade name of a cyanide-based pesticide invented in Germany in the early 1920s. It consisted of hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid), a cautionary eye irritant, and one of several adsorbents such as diatomaceous earth. The product is infamous for its use by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust to murder a million people in gas chambers installed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, and other extermination camps.

Hydrogen cyanide, a poisonous gas that interferes with cellular respiration, was first used as a pesticide in California in the 1880s. Research at Degesch of Germany led to the development of Zyklon (later known as Zyklon A), a pesticide which released hydrogen cyanide upon exposure to water and heat. It was banned after a similar product was used by Germany as a chemical weapon in World War I. In 1922, Degesch was purchased by Degussa, where a team of chemists that included Walter Heerdt(de) and Bruno Tesch developed a method of packaging hydrogen cyanide in sealed canisters along with a cautionary eye irritant and adsorbent stabilizers. The new product was also named Zyklon, but it became known as Zyklon B to distinguish it from the earlier version. Uses included delousing clothing and disinfecting ships, warehouses, and trains.

In early 1942, Zyklon B emerged as the preferred killing tool of Nazi Germany for use in extermination camps during the Holocaust. Around a million people were killed using this method, mostly at Auschwitz. Tesch was executed in 1946 for knowingly selling the product to the SS for use on humans. Hydrogen cyanide is now rarely used as a pesticide, but still has industrial applications. Firms in several countries continue to produce Zyklon B under alternative brand names, including Detia-Degesch, the successor to Degesch, who renamed the product to Cyanosil in 1974 – Wikipedia

http://auschwitz.org/en/

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