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jackie asked: “If you could photograph any singular event in history, what would it be? And why?”

january 27th, 1945 — i would be there to see the liberation of the prisoners at auschwitz concentration camp in oswiecim, poland. even before my visit, this would have been my answer.

taken from wikipedia: “The last selection took place on October 30, 1944. The next month, Heinrich Himmler ordered the crematoria destroyed before the Red Army reached the camp. The gas chambers of Birkenau were blown up by the SS in January 1945 in an attempt to hide the German crimes from the advancing Soviet troops. On January 20 the SS command sent orders to murder all the prisoners remaining in the camp, but in the chaos of the Nazi retreat the order was never carried out. On January 17, 1945 Nazi personnel started to evacuate the facility; nearly sixty thousand prisoners, most of those remaining, were forced on a death march to the camp toward Wodzisław Śląski. Some 20,000 Auschwitz prisoners made it to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where they were liberated by the British in April 1945. Those too weak or sick to walk were left behind; about 7,500 prisoners were liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army on January 27, 1945. Among the artifacts of automated murder found by the Russians were 348,820 men’s suits and 836,255 women’s garments.”

i wonder what it would have been like to see the last few thousand people, some who may have been there for years, trying to understand that they could finally leave. i think it must have been one of the most powerful moments of all time. i can imagine it was a very emotionally complicated and confusing experience for the liberated prisoners.

i did some searching, and found the following images from that day, mostly taken by soviet photographers/officers. some of them are pretty disturbing, so you make the call on if you want to look at them or not…

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3 Comments

  1. Your a brave woman! I realized how important this day was, but I personally don’t think I could be the person to capture it for history. Being faced with such cruelty and suffering, I just don’t think I could handle it.

  2. Wow. I had a hard time looking at those photos, and imagine I would have had a hard time TAKING those photos. It’s an interesting choice of historical events. Thanks for answering my question!

  3. how incredibly sobering…what a moment in history..sigh..


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