Auschwitz album

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Auschwitz album is the name given to two photo albums that show photographs from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp before its liberation on January 27, 1945. The pictures in it were taken and collected by members of the SS . The photo albums with different thematic focuses have been handed down in different ways.

A first Auschwitz album was discovered by Lili Jacob at the end of her imprisonment in the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp in 1945 as a chance find and handed over to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem in 1980 . The album most likely came from the SS-Hauptscharführer and head of the identification service of the Political Department at Auschwitz Concentration Camp Bernhard Walter , who had left the album in the Dora concentration camp while fleeing the Allies. Before that, various recordings from this album were released as early as 1946. It shows the processes inside the extermination camp at the end of May or beginning of June 1944 ( Hungary Action ) from the perspective of the SS men.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acquired a second Auschwitz album in December 2006 from a former colonel of the United States Army who remained anonymous and who had found it in 1946, with 116 recordings taken by SS-Obersturmführer Karl-Friedrich Höcker as a leading officer of the guard had made. The majority of the photo album shows members of the camp staff during target practice and leisure activities. His recordings remained unknown to the public until 2006.

The album handed down by Lili Jacob

Arrival of Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz concentration camp (May 20, 24 or 26, 1944) - recording from the Auschwitz album

The only known photos from the Auschwitz concentration camp before the liberation on January 27, 1945 until 2006 were the 193 photos from the first Auschwitz album. Its German title was: Resettlement of the Jews from Hungary . They were glued to 56 cardboard pages as they were used for photo albums; some loopholes indicate that the collection is not complete. The photos show the processes inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. They were recorded in late May or early June 1944 either by Ernst Hofmann or his superior Bernhard Walter , two SS men who supervised those ten to sixteen prisoners - including the Polish prisoner of war Wilhelm Brasse  - whose job it was to take passport photos and fingerprints from the newly admitted prisoners, but not from the Jews who were sent directly to the gas chambers . The photos show the course of the exploitation and murder of the Hungarian Jews with the exception of the actual killing: from the selection at the platform ramps to the registration and delousing of those able to work, the looting of belongings and the way to the gas chambers, which remain in the background. Almost all of the recordings are from just one train transport. Many people in the pictures have been identified by name. As places of origin u. a. called: Tjatschiw (Técső / Tejtsch) , Uschhorod (Ungvár) , Dowhe (Dolgoje / Dolha) , Bilky (Bilke / Bilki) , Chust (Huszt) .

Lili Jacob , who was initially a prisoner in Auschwitz, discovered the album after her imprisonment in the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp in one of the abandoned SS barracks, which were used as a hospital for former concentration camp inmates after the liberation, and in the photos Be able to identify family members and yourself. She gave some of the photos to other survivors who had also recognized relatives in one of the photos. After Auschwitz was evacuated, the owner at the time must have brought it to Nordhausen . Ms. Jacob donated it to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem in 1980. It was published by Serge Klarsfeld from 1980 . The recordings were digitized in Israel in 1999 .

In 1946 the National Jewish Museum in Prague made copies of the photos, and some of these photos appeared in F. Steiner's book The Tragedy of the Slovak Jews, published in Bratislava in 1949 . In 1956 Erich Kulka , a Czech historian and former prisoner, gave some of the prints to the State Museum in Oświęcim (Poland). There they have since been used in the permanent exhibition on the extermination of the Jews . In the same year Kulka published together with the former prisoner Ota Kraus the book Továrna na Smrt (The Death Factory) u. a. with photos from this source.

In the course of the first Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial , the album served as evidence. Bernhard Walter testified there as a witness in 1964/65, but in many cases only gave evasive answers. Walter initially denied being the author of the photographs submitted by the witness Lili Jacob from the album. Only in the further course of the process did he admit to having taken some of the recordings.

Serge Klarsfeld emphasizes that some of the photos from the album are the only ones showing the arrival of Jews in an extermination camp .

Auschwitz album of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Photo of the SS vacation home Solahütte on the bank of the Międzybrodzier reservoir from the Höcker Album (before 1945)

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington (USA) acquired a second Auschwitz album in December 2006 from a former Lieutenant Colonel , a former intelligence officer in the US Army , who remained anonymous . It was a photo album of 116 photos found in Frankfurt am Main in 1946 on 16 album pages with stickers on both sides. The officer had announced his find in a letter as a gift to the museum. These recordings had remained unknown to the public until then. It is now also known under the English name Höcker Album or Hoecker Album , named after its owner, Karl-Friedrich Höcker , adjutant of the camp commandant Richard Baer. The photographs come from, among others, the head of the identification service, Bernhard Walter .

In May 1944, Höcker was transferred from the Majdanek concentration camp to the main camp in Auschwitz , again as an adjutant to the newly appointed Baer. After Auschwitz was evacuated, Baer became commandant of the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp in Nordhausen in January 1945 ; Höcker remained his adjutant there too. The further path of the album to Frankfurt am Main is unclear. Höcker initially managed to go underground. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in 1963 in the 1st Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial and in 1989 by the Bielefeld Regional Court to four years imprisonment for his actions in Majdanek.

The album bears the entry on its first page: “Mit Kommandant SS Stubaf. Baer, ​​Auschwitz 21.6.44 ".

The photos there begin with a studio shot of Baer and Höcker in “little dressing-out uniform” from the early summer of 1944. The majority of the photo album shows members of the camp staff during target practice, at the handover of the completed SS hospital in Auschwitz and during leisure activities in the area The Sola Hut in the Soła Valley , about 30 km away, is called the river . At least some photos have the date they were taken and can therefore be linked to the events in the camps.

The camp commanders Richard Baer and Rudolf Höß are shown ; also Oswald Pohl , Josef Kramer , Enno Lolling , Franz Hößler , Karl Bischoff , Eduard Wirths and Otto Moll . The album also contains the only eight known photos of Josef Mengele from his time as a camp doctor in Auschwitz.

Prisoners are never shown. Two photos, “Burial of SS comrades after a terrorist attack”, are images beyond the “idyll”. SS members may have been buried here after the Allied air raid on September 13 or December 26, 1944. Höcker's album begins on June 21, 1944; some of the recordings were made at the time of the destruction of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jewish citizens, called the "Hungary Action" by the Nazis.

The Central Construction Office's album

The album of the Central Construction Office of the Waffen-SS and Police Auschwitz (ZBL), in which the construction progress in the Auschwitz camp complex is photographed by ZBL member Dietrich Kamann, has also survived.

Other collections

Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Both albums are historically comparable only with the album of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp commandant Karl Otto Koch with 500 photos, 200 of which are neatly labeled photos of the formation of the camp in Oranienburg in 1936 and 1937 ; a late find in the Moscow Secret Service Archives.

Belzec extermination camp

Nine photos of an unknown member of the camp staff of the Belzec extermination camp are exhibited in the memorial. After the end of the war, they were given to the doctor Janusz Peter by a Polish photographer who was supposed to develop the photos and retain prints. They are now in the Tomaszów Lubelski Regional Museum . Some of these photos can be found in the database of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and in the Yad Vashem photo archive on the Internet or have been published elsewhere. On four photos you can see SS men in uniform against the background of barracks and a guard house; one person presumably represents the SS-Scharführer Rudolf Kamm.

Sobibor extermination camp

In 2015, the descendants of Johann Niemann , at the time deputy commandant of the Sobibor extermination camp , handed over 350 photos and additional written sources from the estate to historians. The Niemann collection contains 49 authentic photos from Sobibor, including an overview of camp I with the pre-camp in the background.

The recordings do not show gas chambers or corpses, but security guards sitting in the sun, partying and laughing or going for a walk with their wives when they were visiting. The victims are hardly in the picture - and if they are, then only as randomly captured marginal figures. There are several shots of the Trawniki on the parade ground. One of the photos shows the uniformed SS mercenary troops with rifles erected, one in the front center that today's research, "also with forensic facial recognition", identified as the guardsman Iwan Demjanjuk, who was convicted in 2011 .

The Niemann Collection was published in 2020 and the originals were simultaneously donated to the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington,


The Theresienstadt bundle also includes two albums from the Theresienstadt ghetto concentration camp . The albums are two almost identical folders in a blue cardboard cover and screw-stapled. One of the folders contains typed résumés and photos of 92 so-called celebrities.

Treblinka extermination camp

29 photographs from the Treblinka extermination camp are preserved in a private album that was made by the later camp commandant Kurt Franz . It was secured in his home in December 1959 when he was arrested. Noteworthy are several photos of an excavator in the camp, photos of the mixed breed dog Barry , of the animal park and an ammunition bunker. Only one of the people pictured can be identified by the inscription as "Comrade Lambert ".

Recordings of the Sonderkommando

With a smuggled camera, the Greek prisoner Alberto Errera , who had to work in the Sonderkommando , was probably able to take photos at Crematorium V in August 1944 : one shot of the cremation in a funeral pit and three shots of women who had to wait naked for their murder . It took weeks for the negative film to get to Krakow and be developed by the Polish resistance in September.


  • Alain Jaubert (director): Auschwitz, l'album de la mémoire , F, 1984.

Images in Nazi propaganda films

See also

  • Wilhelm Brasse (1917–2012), Polish photographer, spent four years as a prisoner in a camp photographer, for the handing down of many Auschwitz photos


  • Tal Bruttmann, Stefan Hördler, Christoph Kreutzmüller: The photographic staging of crime - an album from Auschwitz . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (wbg Academic), Darmstadt, 2019, ISBN 978-3-534-27142-9 (also as a revised new edition 2020 at the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn).
  • Cornelia Brink in: Photo History. Contributions to the history and aesthetics of photography . Jonas-Verlag, Marburg, issue 95 (2005, series of lectures at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg 2004; online the review by Waltraud Burger).
  • Christophe Busch, Stefan Hördler, Robert Jan van Pelt (eds.): The Höcker album. Auschwitz through the lens of the SS . Translation from the Dutch Verena Kiefer, Birgit Lamerz-Beckschäfer, Oliver Loew. Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt 2016, ISBN 978-3-8053-4958-1 .
  • Georges Didi-Huberman : Pictures in spite of everything. Translated from d. French by Peter Geimer. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-7705-4020-4 , 260 pages with 30 illustrations.
  • Israel Gutman , Bella Gutterman (Ed.): The Auschwitz Album. The story of a transport. 2. revised Edition Göttingen 2015, ISBN 978-3-89244-911-9 .
  • Stefan Hördler , Christoph Kreutzmüller, Tal Bruttmann: Auschwitz in pictures. For a critical analysis of the Auschwitz albums. In: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft , 63, 2015, H. 7/8, pp. 609–632.
  • Serge Klarsfeld (Ed.): L'Album d'Auschwitz; or The Auschwitz Album. Lili Jacob's album. The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York 1980; and Random House, New York 1981, and Das Arsenal, Berlin 1995 (Lili Meier's album).
  • Ota Kraus, Erich Kulka : The Death Factory: Document on Auschwitz, New-York, 1966 (English). In German The Death Factory at Dietz, Berlin, ISBN 3-320-01636-9 . 375 pages.
  • Bedrich Steiner: Tragédia slovenských Židov. Documentation a photography. (German: Tragedy of the Slovak Jews. Documents and photographs). Bratislava 1949. (Slovak)
  • Teresa Świebocka (Ed.): Auschwitz: A History in Photographs. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Ksiazka i Wiedza, Warsaw 1993 (English).
  • Klaus Wiegrefe : Nice days in Auschwitz . In: Der Spiegel . No. 39 , 2007, p. 60 ( online ).

Web links

  • to the Auschwitz album by Hofmann / Walter (Lilly Jacob, Yad Vashem)
Commons : Auschwitz Album  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. . T. Bruttmann, p Hördler, BC Kreutz Müller: The photographic staging of the crime - An album of Auschwitz, Scientific Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt, 2019, p 54 ff.
  2. On the leisure program of the SS guards, see Ernst Klee : Happy hours in Auschwitz. How German artists kept their murdering compatriots in occupied Poland happy . ( Memento from March 11, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) In: Die Zeit , No. 5/2007.
  3. a b c The Secret of the Auschwitz Albums - Photos from Hell . ( Memento from January 31, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) ZDF -History
  4. Bilke (Bilky - Ukrainian Білки - Hungarian Bilki; near Berehowe )
  5. Lili or Lilly Jacob-Zelmanovic Meier from Bilke
  6. ^ L'album d'Auschwitz ou le trésor de Lili Jacob , "La saga de l'album de Lili Jacob", Le Monde , May 30, 2005 (French).
  7. ^ Christoph Schminck-Gustavus : Winter in Greece - War-Occupation-Shoah - 1940-1944 . Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-8353-0591-5 , p. 223.
  8. Bella Gutterman (Ed.): The Auschwitz Album. The story of a transport. Göttingen 2005, p. 82.
  9. Katharina Stengel: Hermann Langbein. An Auschwitz survivor in the postwar memory-political conflicts. Frankfurt am Main / New York 2012, p. 210.
  10. ^ Fritz Bauer Institute , Irmtrud Wojak (Ed.): Auschwitz-Prozess 4 Ks 2/63 Frankfurt am Main. Book accompanying the exhibition. Snoeck, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-936859-08-6 , p. 157 / Digital Library Vol. 101: The Auschwitz Trial - tapes, protocols, documents . DVD-ROM 9783898535014, p. 14820-14831 (77th day of the trial).
  11. ^ Filmdoku: ZDF-History, available until January 27, 2023 ZDF website . Accessed January 30, 2018.
  12. Christophe Busch, Stefan Hördler, Robert Jan van Pelt (eds.): Das Höcker-Album. Auschwitz through the lens of the SS . Translation from the Dutch Verena Kiefer, Birgit Lamerz-Beckschäfer, Oliver Loew. Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt 2016, ISBN 978-3-8053-4958-1 .
  13. Stefan Hördler, Christoph Kreutzmüller, Tal Bruttmann: Auschwitz im Bild - For a critical analysis of the Auschwitz albums . In: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft , 63, 2015, H. 7/8, p. 623.
  14. ^ Niels Gutschow: Ordnungswahn. Architects plan in the "Germanized East" 1939–1945. Gütersloh 2001, ISBN 3-7643-6390-8 , p. 195.
  15. ^ Philipp Weigel: Terror does not educate: On the use of photographs in the exhibitions of Polish Shoah memorials . In: Jörg Ganzenmüller, Raphael Utz: Memorials between memorial and museum , Böhlau-Verlag, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2016, p. 61f.
  16. ^ Image of the construction management's album
  17. ^ The DHM reports on a photo report in the magazine Münchner Illustrierte Presse on July 16, 1933, on a propagandistic photo report of the NSDAP , apparently inspired by Himmler , under the title The truth about Dachau and the subtitle early roll call in the educational camp . Münchner Illustrierte Presse, report from July 16, 1933 . This report offers a possible explanation for the official taking of photographs in concentration camps. However, it is not comparable with the photography series mentioned here.
  18. Annika Wienert: Introducing the camp - the architecture of the National Socialist extermination camps . Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-95808-013-3 , pp. 24-38. Jacek Lachendro (Ed.): German extermination camps in Poland . Marki 2007, ISBN 978-83-7419-104-3 .
  19. Martin Cüppers et al .: Photos from Sobibor - The Niemann Collection on Holocaust and National Socialism . Metropol-Verlag, Berlin 2020, ISBN 978-3-86331506-1 .
  20. Annika Wienert: Introducing the camp - the architecture of the National Socialist extermination camps . Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-95808-013-3 , pp. 39–50 / pictures partly also in: Ernst Klee, Willi Dreßen, Volker Rieß: “Schöne Zeiten”: Jewish murder from the point of view of the perpetrators and onlookers. Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-10-039304-X ; Pp. 205-207 and pp. 222-225.
  21. Document VEJ 16/137 in: Andrea Rudorff (edit.): The persecution and murder of European Jews by National Socialist Germany 1933–1945 (collection of sources), Volume 16: The Auschwitz concentration camp 1942–1945 and the time of the death marches 1944/45 . Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-11-036503-0 , p. 464.