Auschwitz photographer Wilhelm Brasse dies at 95

WARSAW Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:37pm IST

Related Topics

WARSAW (Reuters) - Wilhelm Brasse, a former Auschwitz prisoner whose photographs from inside the Nazi death camp provided a chilling historical chronicle of the horrors committed there, has died at the age of 95, an Auschwitz Museum historian said on Wednesday.

Brasse, who died on Tuesday, was sent to the camp after he was caught in 1940 trying to flee Nazi occupied Poland to join the Polish military in exile. He was put in a work detail which had to haul bodies from the gas chambers to be incinerated.

When his jailers at Auschwitz discovered he was an experienced photographer, they set him to work taking pictures of prisoners for the prison's internal files, and recording the visits of senior German officials for posterity.

He was also ordered to take photographs of the medical experiments conducted by camp doctors on inmates.

"He tried to come back to photography (after the war) but it was too difficult for him," Auschwitz museum historian Teresa Wontor-Cichy told Reuters. "The fact of having taken such pictures was disturbing for him."

The Nazis killed some 1.5 million people, most of them Jews, at Auschwitz, located near the Polish village of Oswiecim.

Brasse's pictures, among the few photographic records of the death camp, were recovered from Nazi files at the end of World War Two and they are now a centre-piece of the exhibits at the Auschwitz museum.

Over the five years he spent at the camp, Brasse shot some 50,000 pictures, of which nearly 40,000 survived.

Brasse, who was of mixed Austrian-Polish descent, was active in setting up the Auschwitz museum and spent years after the war helping educate young people, especially from Germany, about the holocaust.

In 2005, Polish director Irek Dobrowolski released a documentary film about Brasse's life, called "The Portraitist" ("Portrecista").

The photographer will be buried on Thursday in the city of Zywiec, southern Poland.

(Reporting by Dagmara Leszkowicz, editing by Paul Casciato)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Polanski Questioned

Polanski Questioned

Polish prosecutors question Polanski over U.S. sex crime warrant.  Full Article 

Cook Speaks Up

Cook Speaks Up

Apple's Cook signals front line of new gay rights battle.  Full Article 

Upcoming Project

Upcoming Project

Coen Brothers tap Clooney, Johansson for all-star studio comedy.  Full Article 

Book Talk

Book Talk

Alan Cumming believes in putting everything out there.  Full Article 

Wrongful Death Suit

Wrongful Death Suit

Gregg Allman dropped from suit over fatal Georgia train accident.  Full Article 

Talking Television

Talking Television

Frances McDormand's face does the talking in 'Olive Kitteridge'.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage