The entrance to the SS compound at Mauthausen.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 10379
- Paul Ricken
- Photo Designation
MAJOR CONCENTRATION CAMPS 1940-45 -- Mauthausen -- WARTIME -- Views
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park
The entrance to the SS compound at Mauthausen.
- Mauthausen concentration camp photographers Antonio Garcia (or Antonio Garcia Alonso) and Francisco Boix (or Francesc Boix Campo) were among thousands of Spanish Republicans who were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Following their defeat in the Spanish Civil War, Spanish Republicans fled to France where they were interned. After Germany's invasion of France, some 30,000 of these were deported to concentration camps in Germany and Austria for their Communist political affiliation. Approximately 8,000 were sent to Mauthausen. Though most of these prisoners were sent to work in the quarries, some were given administrative jobs. Among the later group were Antonio Garcia and Francisco Boix. Boix was sent to Mauthausen on January 27, 1941. Because of his facility with German, he was initially given work as a translator. Garcia was incarcerated on April 7, 1941. As a trained photographer, he was assigned to the Erkennungsdienst and put to work in the camp's photography lab. Though only the SS photographer Kornacz took the photographs, he employed inmates to handle the developing, printing and filing of the images. Kornacz took mug shots of arriving prisoners and photographed official visits to the camp. He also photographed prisoners who died in the camp. He ordered his prisoner assistants to make five copies of each photograph: one for the camp archive and one each to be sent to Berlin, Oranienburg, Vienna, and Linz. Prior to Garcia's arrival in the lab, a Polish prisoner named Grabowski, began developing a sixth print of key photographs, which he hid in the ceiling behind a wooden beam. After his arrival, Garcia joined in Grabowski's efforts to compile a secret archives. In June 1941 Kornacz was replaced by SS Hauptscharfuehrer Paul Ricken, who distanced himself from the violence of his SS cohorts and treated his prisoner assistants with consideration. Ricken, a trained photographer, reorganized the lab. At Garcia's suggestion, he appointed Francisco Boix, another Catalan, to work in the lab. Before the war, Boix had served an apprenticeship in a photo lab and had later worked as a photo journalist. Garcia and Grabowski continued to print an extra, sixth copy of key photographs, and soon Boix joined in their efforts in accumulating a secret archives of several hundred images. In 1944 Grabowski committed suicide, and in February 1945 Garcia fell seriously ill and was taken to the camp infirmary where he remained for over a month. Upon his return he discovered that the secret archives was missing. When questioned Boix confessed that he had removed the photographs and delivered them to the camp's Spanish Communist underground. Garcia, though sympathetic to Communism, was accused by some of Trotskyism and therefore was not part of the underground's inner circle. Garcia was furious with Boix, but there was little he could do as Boix was supported by the Communist leadership. Garcia therefore continued to work with Boix saving key photographs, even after Mauthausen commandant Franz Ziereis ordered the destruction of all negatives in the last week of the war. During the liberation of the camp Boix photographed the events with a confiscated German camera. After receiving the secret archives from Boix, the Spanish underground temporarily concealed the photographs in several locations within the administrative complex of the camp while looking for a safer hiding place outside the camp. Ultimately, they decided to transfer the photographs to the Poschacher Kommando. This labor brigade, made up of Spanish teenagers, worked in quarries outside the camp. During the last months of the war, the brigade worked with little SS supervision. Over time, the Spanish youth had become friendly with Anna Pointner, an Austrian socialist who lived near their work site. She frequently tossed them extra food and eventually confided her political views to them. Sensing they could trust her, the youths asked whether she would be willing to hide some small parcels for them. Two of the boys, Jacinto Cortes and Jesus Grau, whose job it was to bring food to the Kommando in hampers, gradually transferred the entire archives hidden in these lunch hampers. Pointner hid the photos in a crevice in her garden wall. After the war Boix and the two Poschacher youths retrieved the hidden archives. In response to an invitation from the Nuremberg Tribunal to attend and present photographic evidence, Boix gave a deposition on January 28-29. He was the only Spaniard to testify at the Nuremberg trials.
[Source: Pike, David Wingeate. Spaniards in the Holocaust: Mauthausen, the horror on the Danube; London, 2000. Bermejo, Benito. Francisco Boix: el fotografo de Mauthausen; Barcelona, 2002]
- Photo Source
National Archives and Records Administration, College Park
Copyright: Public DomainProvenance: Francisco BoixSource Record ID: 338-Cases Tried--box 345--file 000-50-5Muzej Revolucije Narodnosti Jugoslavije
Copyright: Public DomainSource Record ID: E-42/24
- Not for release pending receipt of permission from Francisco Boix.
Record last modified: 2018-03-30 00:00:00
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