Faces of Auschwitz
The word ‘Auschwitz’ has become synonymous with murder, hate, senseless cruelty and, above all, the Holocaust. Established by Nazi Germany’s SS (Schutzstaffel) authorities in occupied Poland during the spring of 1940, KL Auschwitz originally served as a concentration camp for Polish prisoners. After the first two years of its operation, it became the most deadly Nazi extermination camp. As World War II progressed, the brutality behind the wire fences of Auschwitz escalated. Prisoners who made it through the selection and incorporation into Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoner population had their photos taken. The precious little to mark the lives of these individuals remain.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum holds a collection of 38,916 registration photographs taken between February 1941 and January 1945. The preserved photos, 31,969 of men and 6,947 of women, constitute only a fraction of a vast Nazi photo archive destroyed during the camp evacuation in January 1945.
“Faces of Auschwitz” is a collaboration between the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, Marina Amaral, and a dedicated team of academics and journalists. The goal of the project is to honor the memory and lives of Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoners by colorizing registration photographs culled from the museum’s archive and sharing individual stories of those whose faces were photographed.
By bringing color to the original black and white registration photos and telling prisoners’ stories, “Faces of Auschwitz” commemorates the memory of those who were murdered in the name of bigotry and hate. It acts as both a memorial to their passing and a warning to the world at a time when the memory of the Holocaust becomes increasingly abstract and remote.