The famed Swiss-American photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank once said “There is one thing the photograph must contain – the humanity of the moment.”
Some photographs, however, capture not humanity but inhumanity. We’ve all heard or read stories or seen dramatizations on stage or screen of the incomprehensible, unforgivable horrors of what the Nazis called the “final solution” to “the Jewish problem.” Some of us even have family members who actually lived through the Holocaust (or perished during it).
Seeing photographic images of the camps where millions of Jews and other “undesirables” were tortured, worked to death, or slaughtered outright, however, brings the abominations of that darkest period in modern history into focus (in more ways than one) – and in these troubled times, both in America and abroad, perhaps we need to be reminded of this all-too-recent evil to strengthen our commitment to ensuring that nothing like this ever happens again.
With that in mind, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed historical photo archives from sources including from Getty Images, Picryl, Wikimedia, and the Library of Congress to compile a list of horrifying images of Nazi death camps.
The names of camps like Auschwitz (which in fact wasn’t a single camp but an ever-growing complex of more than 40 of them) and Buchenwald are infamous – but the Nazis and their allies actually established more than 44,000 camps, ghettos, prisons, and other incarceration or extermination sites in Germany, Poland, Austria, and elsewhere between 1933 and 1945. (These are 20 horrifying images of Auschwitz.)
Technically, some of these (Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Sobibor among them) were extermination – or death – camps where prisoners, almost all of them Jewish, were brought for one purpose: to be killed as quickly and efficiently as possible. Others were concentration camps, whose inmates were mostly Jews, but also homosexuals, Roma, communists, prisoners of war, and others considered sub-human by the Nazis. They were often not killed outright but were worked or starved to death or subjected to bizarre and deadly quasi-medical experiments. (Here are 30 symbols used by the Nazis to mark their victims.)
Whatever the Nazis may have called them, these were all death camps, and serve as reminders of the inhumanity of which the worst of our species have been capable.
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