- Jewish men from Subcarpathian Rus who have been, selected for forced labor at Auschwitz-Birkenau, await further processing after having been disinfected and issued underclothing.
- Bernhardt Walter/Ernst Hofmann
- Auschwitz, [Upper Silesia] Poland
- Variant Locale
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Yad Vashem (Public Domain)
- Event History
- The "Auschwitz Album" is an album of photographs documenting the arrival, selection and processing of one or more transports of Jews from Subcarpathian Rus (Carpatho-Ukraine), then part of Hungary, that came to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the latter half of May, 1944. Many of these Jews were deported from Berehovo, where Jews from neighboring towns and villages were gathered at a brick factory. The album, which includes 193 photographs mounted on 56 pages, was taken by SS-Hauptscharführer Bernhardt Walter, head of the Auschwitz photographic laboratory known as the Erkennungsdienst [Identification Service] and his assistant, SS-Unterscharführer Ernst Hofmann. The album was produced as a presentation volume for the camp commandant. The photographs were arranged in the album by a prisoner named Myszkowski, who worked in the lab. He also decorated the volume and wrote captions for the pictures. The album was found after the liberation by Lili Jacob (later Zelmanovic, now Meier), herself an Auschwitz survivor who appears in one of the photographs. Lili came from Bilki, a town in Subcarpathian Rus that was annexed by Hungary in March, 1939. In the spring of 1944 her family was relocated to the ghetto in Berehovo. From there they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on a transport that departed on May 24, 1944. Lili, who was eighteen years old when she arrived in the camp, was the only member of her family to survive Auschwitz. At war's end Lili was sick with typhus in the infirmary of the Nordhausen concentration camp. After the liberation American soldiers moved her to a nearby former SS barrack, where she came across the album of Auschwitz photographs while searching for some clothing. She decided to keep the album and took it with her to Prague, where she lived temporarily after the war. Lili allowed the Prague Jewish community to copy the images and produce a set of glass negatives. A selection of these photographs were subsequently included in The Tragedy of Slovak Jews, published in Bratislava in 1949. In 1955 these negatives were rediscovered in a Prague museum by two Czech researchers who were also Auschwitz survivors. After authenticating these images at the Auschwitz Museum, two sets of prints were made which were deposited at the Auschwitz Museum and at Yad Vashem. At this time the identity of the owner of the original album was unknown. Lili Jacob had in the meantime immigrated to the United States. In 1961 at the time of the Eichmann trial, she gave an interview to Parade magazine in which she described the Auschwitz album she had found. When members of the Auschwitz Museum heard about the interview they contacted her and received the missing information. The negatives found by the Czech researchers were used in the pre-trial investigations for the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials of 1963-1965. When the existence of the original album was make known, Lili was brought to Frankfurt to testify. Among the 22 SS defendants was the head of the photography laboratory, Bernhardt Walter. The Auschwitz album, however, did not receive widespread attention until Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld convinced Lili to donate it to Yad Vashem in 1980 and, at the same time, undertook to publish the volume. The first edition of The Auschwitz Album, which appeared in August 1980, was produced by the Klarsfeld Foundation. The following year, a version intended for a broader audience was published by Random House. In 1994 the original album underwent restoration at Yad Vashem, and in 1999 it was digitally scanned. Some of the original photographs are missing; it is thought that they may have been given away by Lili to other survivors.
[Sources: www.yadvashem.org/exhibitions/album_auschwitz (2000); Swiebocka, Teresa, Auschwitz A History in Photographs. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 1993]