Five Photos: Auschwitz-Birkenau

How do you illustrate the destruction of millions in just five photographs?

In university I studied history, specifically European early 20th century history. But that didn’t and couldn’t have prepared me for what I witnessed at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim, Poland. I’ve narrowed down the hundreds of images I took at Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II (Birkenau), the Schindler Enamelware Factory and the former Jewish Ghetto of Krakow, Poland.

So, how do you illustrate the destruction of millions in just five photographs?

Here are my five photos.

disc-5-europe-2013-146Jewish Cemetery in the Jewish Quarter. Prior to the German annexation of Poland in 1939 there were approximately 70,000 Jews living in Poland. Today they number only a few thousand. This photograph was taken in Podgórze, a district of Krakow, Poland.

Zyklon BZyklon B Gas Pellets. After experimenting with other methods of mass murder, Nazi German soldiers used a chemical called Zyklon B to murder roughly six million Jews, prisoners of war, political prisoners, gypsies and homosexuals.

disc-5-europe-2013-218List of Prisoners at Auschwitz I. One of thousands of pages that survived the war listing the victims of the holocaust.

disc-5-europe-2013-274Barbed Wire at Auschwitz I. A symbol of imprisonment and oppression, barbed wire at the camps instills fear — even today.

disc-5-europe-2013-368Men’s Lavatory at Birkenau. An example of the planned destruction of the prisoners through degradation, this is the men’s lavatory at Birkenau. The ‘toilets’ are made of concrete. There was no plumbing, resulting in rampant disease and stench.