Auschwitz-Birkenau became the killing centre where the largest numbers of European Jews were killed. By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon-B began at Auschwitz, where extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with some estimates running as high as three million persons eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and burning. 9 out of 10 were Jews. In addition, Gypsies, Soviet POWs, and prisoners of all nationalities died in the gas chambers.

The Auschwitz Album is a unique photographic record of the Holocaust of World War II. A collection of photographs taken inside a Nazi death camp, it is the only surviving pictorial evide
nce of the extermination process from inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The album has 56 pages and 193 photographs. Originally, it had more photos, but before being donated to the Holocaust Museum in Israel, Yad Vashem, some of them were given to survivors who recognized relatives and friends.

The photos were taken at the end of May or beginning of June 1944 and follow the processing of newly arrived Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia, many of them from the Berehov Ghetto. They document the disembarkation of the Jewish prisoners from the train boxcars, followed by the selection process, performed by doctors of the SS and SS-men of the camp, which separated those who were considered fit for work from those who were to be sent to the gas chambers. The photographer followed groups of those selected for work, and those selected for death to a birch tree grove just outside of the crematoria where they were made to wait before being killed.

In the words of Oliver Lustig:

"... that was to be "the last stay of their lives." Tens of feet apart, after the bushes of trees, the well-ventilated crematoria were awaiting them with an open door of the disrobing room and, with the gas chamber ready to go with a capacity for 2000 people. The 15 ovens built above the gas chamber were on so of not wasting any unnecessary time with restarting them."

The photographs of the Auschwitz Album show the entire process except for the killing itself - but you find more photos here.

The album's survival is remarkable, given the strenuous efforts made by the Nazis to keep the Final Solution a secret. Also remarkable is the story of its discovery. Lilly Jacob, later Lilly Jacob-Zelmanovic Meier, was selected for work at Auschwitz-Birkenau while the other members of her family were sent to the gas chambers. The Auschwitz camp was evacuated by the Nazis as the Soviet army approached. Lilly Jacob was passed through various camps, finally arriving at the Dora concentration camp, where she was eventually liberated. Recovering from illness in a vacated barracks of the SS, Lilly Jacob found the album in a cupboard beside her bed. Inside, she found pictures of her relatives and others from her community.

Lilly Jacob never hid the Auschwitz Album and news of its existence was published many times. She was even called to present it as testimony at the Auschwitz trials in Frankfurt during the 1960s. She kept it all the years until the famous Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld visited her in 1980, and convinced her to donate the album to Yad Vashem.




- Material licensed under the
  GNU Free Documentation License from Wikipedia

- The Auschwitz Album at Yad Vashem

- Photos from the Auschwitz Album with commentary by Oliver Lustig

- Klarsfeld, Serge (ed.), The Auschwitz Album. Lilly Jacob's Album, New-York, 1980.
Beate and Serge Klarsfeld

About Beate Klarsfeld
For many years Beate Klarsfeld - born Beate Kunzel in Berlin in 1939 - has carried out an impassioned, committed and fearless campaign to hunt down Nazi war criminals and bring them to justice. Golda Meir - a founder and fourth prime minister of the State of Israel - summed up the admiration of tens of thousands of people throughout the world for Beate Klarsfeld with the words: "Courage, conviction, compassion, decency, justice and self-sacrifice to the point of personal danger ... to Israel and the Jewish people Mrs Klarsfeld is a Woman of Valour - a title that has no peer in Jewish tradition."

About Serge Klarsfeld
Born in Bucharest, Serge Klarsfeld was just eight years old when his family was raided by the Gestapo. His father was killed at Auschwitz. An attorney and author, he is a leading historian on the fate of the Jews in France during World War II. Serge Klarsfeld has fought relentlessly to bring Nazi officials to justice. He has been praised as "a man who is deeply committed to justice, a tireless human rights advocate."


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