The Auschwitz Album: Story of a Death Factory: Hitler's "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" Sent Millions to Extermination in This Installation's Gas Chambers and Crematoriums

Article excerpt

ON THE DAY U.S. forces liberated Dora-Mittlebau concentration camp, a prisoner named Lili Jacob--ill with typhus and searching for some warm clothes--came upon a photo album hidden in an SS barracks cupboard. When she opened it, she discovered pictures depicting the arrival of a transport of Hungarian Jews at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. To Jacob's horror and amazement, images of her family, friends, and herself were included in the album. She had been a prisoner at Auschwitz from May to December of 1944 before being transferred to Dora-Mittlebau in 1945. In 1980, Jacob donated the album detailing "The Death Factory" to Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel. The photographs have been reassembled, restored, and duplicated for this exhibition.

"The Auschwitz Album: The Story of a Transport" includes nearly 40 black-and-white photographic reproductions that document the arrival and imprisonment of 3,500 Hungarian Jews in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. These powerful images, taken by Nazi SS officers in May 1944, are the only visual evidence of what took place inside this infamous death camp. The exhibition, created in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. presents photos documenting the unloading of the overcrowded trains, the selection process for slave labor or death in the gas chambers, the confiscation of property, and the preparations for extermination.

An Auschwitz survivor recorded the horror experienced during his days at the death camp: "The gas chambers operated without interruption, day and night. A pillar of living flame erupted from the chimneys of Auschwitz and was borne aloft along with a dense cloud of smoke. The crematoria, packed beyond their capacity, exploded and one of the chimneys was demolished. However, the labor of killing knew no respite. The [extermination] department at the country house at Bunker 2, which had been neglected since 1942, was reopened. Huge pits were excavated and they burned the corpses there. Many witnesses describe the cremation of living children in the pits of Birkenau."

Historians estimate that as many as 1,500.000,000 people perished at Auschwitz during its five years of operation. An overwhelming majority of them--l,350,000--were Jews. Poles comprised the second largest group (7075,000 victims)--and the third largest segment (some 20,000) was made up of Gypsies. In addition, nearly 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and 10-15.000 prisoners of other nationalities (Czechs. Belorussians, Yugoslavs. Germans, French, Austrians, etc.) died at Auschwitz.

The Auschwitz concentration camp was built by the Nazis in 1940, in the suburbs of Oswiecim, Poland, which, like other parts of the country, was occupied by the Germans during World War II. …


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