Sunday, October 28, 2012

Auschwitz and the photographic record of Wilhelm Brasse

Thanks to Jim Johnson and his wonderful blog Notes on Politics and Photography I learned of the remarkable story of Wilhelm Brasse, who died this week in Poland aged 94.

Wilhelm Brasse was a Polish prisoner at Auschwitz, who was  forced to photograph  thousands of inmates for identity records, as well as documenting medical experimentation on the prisoners. Prior to the war Brasse was a photographer.

Brasse estimates that he took between 40,000 and 50,000 images of inmates and German officers and staff between 1940-1945.

As the Russian army drew closer to Auschwitz in 1945 Brasse was ordered to  destroy the images. He refused. Although only a proportion of the images survived, Brasse's work remains one of very few photographic records surviving of Auschwitz.

After the war, he was too haunted by his experiences to work as a photographer again.

Articles about Wilhelm Brasse are herehere, here, here and here.

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