Pictures from Auschwitz show haunting human reality of Holocaust

Photos taken by Nazis in Auschwitz are being shown in London to help ‘bring humanity back to the victims’.

Today marks Holocaust Memorial Day, which dedicated to the remembrance of the Jews and others who suffered under Nazi persecution. 

‘Seeing Auschwitz’ is a new exhibition which displays images originally intended to document the ‘progress’ Nazis were making in murdering millions of victims in concentration camps.

Now, the photos are being reclaimed.

Luis Ferreiro, director of the exhibition, said the project will give ‘agency’ to the prisoners who suffered such horrific experiences at the hands of the Nazis.

He told ‘Even though the entire album is meant to dehumanize victims suddenly and probably without the knowledge of the photographer, you see these moments that really bring humanity back and give the prisoners agency.

‘We even show images taken by the Sonderkommando [prisoners forced to work at the gas chambers], which can help us radically see that moment from a different perspective when looking at photos taken by the Nazis.

‘We are compiling the pictures, but trying to go beyond the image through analysis and using other sources.’

The exhibition comes as the UK marks Holocaust Memorial Day, and the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the death camps.

‘In one picture, you can see a group of people waiting around the gas chambers,’ Mr Ferreiro added.

‘But you can see a very small toddler – almost a baby – handing out a flower to maybe is brother of friend, showing a moment of humanity beyond the Nazi photograph.

‘It is one of the most powerful pictures in the entire exhibition.’

With the rising cases of antisemitism and discrimination, the exhibition curators are hoping the images will ‘serve as a reminder of our past’.

Mr Ferreiro said: ‘The gas chambers were only the final step of a very long process that started years and years before the Final Solution. It was rooted in antisemitism, hatred and bigotry.

‘We should ask ourselves whether the ingredients that made it possible to exist are still part of our society.

‘It is very important that we acknowledge our past, but also be aware of our own present and to understand how that could happen.’

The exhibition, at 81 Old Brompton Road in London, closes February 12.

Seeing Auschwitz will allow people ‘to critically reflect on the images, exploring what they really tell us, not just about a specific place and time but also about the perpetrators, the people photographed and even ourselves as viewers.’

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