Haunting images of prisoners taken as the entered Auschwitz have laid bare the horrifying reality of the Nazi’s ‘final solution’ on the 75th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation by Soviet troops.
Among those pictured are Vinzent Daniel, a Roma gypsy who was sent to the camp in April 1942 after being arrested in Prague, then escaped a month later by running through a drained pond and into nearby woods.
Other prisoners recalled how he stripped off his striped jacket and cap as he ran, and was last seen wearing nothing but his underwear as he vanished into the trees. His ultimate fate is still unknown.
Another image shows four-year-old Istvan Reiner smiling and clutching a hole-punch as his photograph is taken on the way to Auschwitz, where he was sent to the gas chambers and killed alongside his grandmother.
In total, 1.3million people – largely Polish Jews but also other minorities and political prisoners – were transported to Auschwitz between 1942 and late 1944, of which 1.1million died. The camp was liberated on January 27, 1945.
Artist Marina Amaral painstakingly colourised some of the portraits for her Faces of Auschwitz series, while fellow artist Tom Marshall also contributed to this collection.
Vinzent Daniel was born on August 15, 1919, in the village of Smrčná in Czechoslovakia. After being arrested in Prague by the criminal police he was deported to Auschwitz on April 29, 1942. In the camp, he received number 33804 and was registered as a Czech, though he was of Roma origin
Starting in December 1942 and lasting until July 1944, around 23,000 Roma and Sinti gypsies were deported to Auschwitz under the orders of Heinrich Himmler. 2,000 of those were killed on arrival without being entered into camp records. Of the remaining 21,000, 19,000 of them died of disease, mistreatment by camp guards, or were killed in the gas chambers
Vinzent Daniel was assigned to a work crew at a chemical plant within Auschwitz, and spent around a month there before staging an escape attempt on May 27, 1942. Witnesses said he ran across a field and through a drain pond into a nearby forest. He stripped off his striped uniform as he ran, and was last seen heading into the trees in his underwear. His fate is unknown
Vinzent Daniel was born on August 15, 1919, in the village of Smrčná in Czechoslovakia. After being arrested in Prague by the criminal police he was deported to Auschwitz on April 29, 1942. In the camp, he received number 33804 and was registered as a Czech, even though in fact he was of Roma origin.
In 1940, shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, a conference was held in Berlin where it was decided that all Roma and Sinti gypsies were to be deported from Germany to occupied Poland where they were held in camps and ghettos intended for Jews.
The Nazis ruled that Roma were to be considered enemies of the Third Reich because they were ‘racially alien, inferior and asocial’.
In 1942, Heinrich Himmler issued an order that all Roma should be sent to the concentration camps, with most sent to a specially-designed Roma camp at Auschwitz. In total, 23,000 Roma were transported to Auschwitz – of which 2,000 were murdered without entering the camp, and 19,000 more died of disease or in the gas chambers.
Vinzent Daniel was assigned to a work crew at a chemical plant within the camp. Around a month after his arrival there – on May 27, 1942 – he attempted to escape by sprinting across a field, through a drained pond, and into a nearby forest.
Witnesses said Vinzent stripped off his striped prison suit as he ran, and was last seen in his underwear running into the forest. To this day his fate remains unknown.
Istvan Reiner, aged four, photographed in either 1943 or 1944, shortly before being deported to Auschwitz along with his mother Livia Reiner and his grandmother. Upon arrival at the camp he was separated from his mother and sent with his grandmother to the gas chambers, where he died. Livia was assigned forced labour, but survived the war and later emigrated to the United States
Istvan Reiner was born in Hungary to a Jewish father – Bela Reiner – and his wife Livia in 1940. Hungary allied with Nazi Germany in the early stages of the Second World War, and in an attempt to avoid persecution Bela converted to Protestantism. Istvan was never circumcised and was not a practicing Jew.
Some time between 1943 and 1944, an Austrian officer with the German army was sent to live with the Reiner family in order to decide their fates. After his stay was over it was decided the family would be sent to the Miskolc ghetto.
Bela tried to have Istvan sent to Budapest to live with an aunt, but she refused – despite the boy technically being Christian, she did not want to risk being accused of hiding a Jewish child.
The family avoided the ghetto for a time by offering to work as labourers on a nearby farm, two weeks later they were moved to the ghetto.
From there, Bela and his step-son Janos – from Livia’s first marriage – were sent to the to the Jolsva labor camp on the Slovak border. Janos escaped during transport and survived the war by living with relatives. Bela also survived the camp.
Livia, Istvan and the boy’s grandmother were all deported to Auschwitz. At some point along his journey, Istvan was given a prison uniform and a hole punch to play with before being photographed.
At Auschwitz, he was separated from his mother who was sent to a forced labour camp. Istvan was placed into the care of his grandmother, and both were sent to the gas chambers.
Livia also survived the war, and was liberated at either Bergen-Belsen or Mannheim. She later emigrated to the US.
Heroine: Janina Nowak, 24, from Łódź, arrived in Auschwitz on June 12, 1942. Twelve days later, she became the first female prisoner to escape, when she ran away from a work party sent outside the camp walls. SS guards had been sent out to try to track her down, but they failed, and the 24-year-old Pole made it back to her home town where she successfully hid from the Nazis for nine months, until March, 1943, when she was captured and brought back to Auschwitz by authorities. Miss Nowak was soon transferred to Ravensbrück, an all-female concentration camp in northern Germany, 56 miles north of Berlin. She survived her incarceration, and was liberated at the end of April 1945 by the Soviet Red Army
Prisoner: It is not clear why Miss Nowak, a Polish woman from a town 140 miles from the Nazi concentration camp, is sent to Auschwitz, but she is registered as part a group transport which arrived in June, 1942
Brave: The colourisation is carried out after meticulous research by Miss Amaral, which has found the likely colour of Miss Nowak’s eyes to have been blue and her hair to have been blonde
Janina Nowak, from Będów near Łódź, was 24 years old when she arrived at the German Nazi camp on June 12, 1942. Twelve days later, she became the first female prisoner to escape Auschwitz, running away from a work party sent outside the camp, and the guards failed to catch her. She was able to make it all the way to her home town of Łódz where she successfully hid from the Nazis until March, 1943.
She was captured and brought back to Auschwitz, before being transferred to Ravensbrück, and all-female concentration camp in northern Germany, 56 miles north of Berlin, where she stayed until liberation at the end of April 1945 by the Soviet Red Army.
‘Political prisoner’: Czesława Kwoka, 14, was deported from Zamość, southeastern Poland in December 1942, along with her mother, to make room for a German colony that the Nazis were building. The photographs, taken by a fellow inmate at Auschwitz show the teenager on the verge of tears, her bottom lip sporting a cut. Shortly before they were taken, she had been beaten up by a female prison guard because she did not understand what the guard was shouting in German. Miss Kwoka died in March 1943, just three months after arriving at Auschwitz, weeks after her mother Katarzyna
Young victim: The teenager was taken along with her mother, and her defiant stare into the camera after being assaulted by a guard is even more haunting in colour
Young life lost: The teenager, seen here looking off camera in her prisoner’s uniform with a red ‘P’ triangle stitched onto the chest, died in the camp within three months
Czesława Kwoka, 14, was deported from her home in Zamość, southeastern Poland in December 1942, along with her mother, to make room for a German colony, and branded ‘political prisoners’ – seen on her prisoner’s uniform which has a red triangle with a ‘P’.
The photographs show her on the verge of tears, her bottom lip sporting a cut, as hortly before the photos were taken, she had been beaten up by a female prison guard for not understanding orders being barked at her in German.
Miss Kwoka died in March 1943, just three months after arriving at Auschwitz, weeks after her mother Katarzyna.
Murdered Witness: Deliana Rademakers, a 21-year-old Jehovah’s Witness from the Netherlands, was arrested while preaching her faith door-to-door, and deported to Auschwitz in November, 1942. In a final letter to her family and congregation she wrote; ‘go bravely onwards without fear, Jehovah is with us, what can (mere) people do to us?’ According to her death certificate, Deliana died in Auschwitz on 10 December, 1942 – less than three weeks after her arrival.
Lest we forget: The colourised images bring out the details of the haunting images, such as the hacked shaving of her hair
Killed for her faith: Mere weeks after this photograph of the young Dutchwoman was taken, she was dead
Jehovah’s Witness Deliana Rademakers from the Netherlands, was 21 when she was deported to Auschwitz in November, 1942, having been arrested going door to door to preach her faith.
In a final letter to her family and congregation she wrote; ‘go bravely onwards without fear, Jehovah is with us, what can (mere) people do to us?’ According to her death certificate, Ms Rademakers died in Auschwitz on 10 December, 1942 – less than three weeks after her arrival.
Hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses died in Auschwitz as their faith prevented them from serving in the army, carrying out work supporting the war effort, or praising the Nazi leader with ‘Heil Hitler’ – crimes punishable by imprisonment or death.
Holocaust victim: Salomon Honig, a Jewish man from Jasło, southeastern Poland was deported to Auschwitz on March 5, 1942, along with a group of 27 Polish Jews some time before the mass exterminations in gas chambers began. Less than two weeks later, on March 18, he died, aged 52, with the Nazis claiming his cause of death was a stroke. This was likely a lie as the SS camp chiefs would usually try to hide the true reasons for the deaths in the concentration camp.
One of millions: The heartbreaking images of the 52-year-old merchant, detained by the Nazis for his faith, is one of several colourised by the Brazilian artist for the Faces of Auschwitz project
Hitler’s final solution: Dressed in the striped prisoner’s uniform with a white and red Star of David, Mr Honig has less than two weeks to live when this photograph was taken
Salomon Honig, a Jewish man from Jasło, southeastern Poland was deported to Auschwitz on March 5, 1942 along with a group of 27 Polish Jews some time before the mass exterminations in gas chambers began.
Less than two weeks later, on March 18, he died, aged 52, with the Nazis claiming his cause of death was a stroke. However, as Ms Amaral notes, this was likely a lie as the SS camp chiefs would usually try to hide the true reasons for the deaths in the concentration camp.
A colourised image of children taken from a Russian film made during the liberation of Auschwitz in January 1945
- Faces of Auschwitz is a collaboration between Marina Amaral and the Auschwitz Museum