The Light and the Dark


Wherefore then do you realize these nets of beauty & delusion / In open day to draw the souls of the Dead into the light — William Blake, “Jerusalem”

Only the Nazis were supposed to see their ‘death mills’ and live. The expectation all knowledge of such places would be taken to the grave perhaps the only thing they ever felt they shared with their millions of victims. In 2019, however, 2.3 million people visited Auschwitz, the deadliest Holocaust site. Other camps also drew large numbers: 800,000 went to Dachau, 700,000 to Sachsenhausen, and 200,000 to Majdanek (1). Justice and memorialisation are difficult subjects to navigate in relation to the Holocaust, but if the Nazis wanted these places hidden, opening them to visitors is surely a positive step. Yet seeing Holocaust sites in person is not how the majority of people actually see them; for all those who visit in reality, many more visit through camera lenses. This paper returns the gaze of those lenses, analysing who has taken photographs at Auschwitz and why. Outlining four types of Auschwitz photography—perpetrator, resistor, liberator, and visitor—I discuss examples of each alongside their effects upon modern engagement with Auschwitz and understanding of the Holocaust.

Sight, Photography, and History

Sight is prized among human senses. Aristotle’s Metaphysics opens: “All men by nature desire of knowledge, and an indication of this is the love of the senses […] preeminently above the rest, the sense of sight” (2). In Christian tradition, Thomas refused to believe Jesus had risen, saying “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands […] I will not believe” (3). Eyesight has long been considered trustworthy, conventional wisdom holding that ‘to see is to believe’ as “sight provides a bridge between the interior realm of the mind and exterior realm of matter” (4). The Renaissance, however, began blurring the distinction between reality and its representations: the printing press spurred debates of ‘book experience’ versus ‘world experience’ and artists’ use of camera oscura (dark rooms or boxes with holes through which images of external objects are projected onto the opposite internal surface) led to more accurate replications of reality and the development of perspective (5). Use of telescopes, microscopes, and glasses later reemphasised sight’s value but also highlighted the potential for distorted perspective (6).

Photography’s arrival in the nineteenth century intensified debates of sight versus perspective and representation versus reality. In 1824, Leopold von Ranke wrote historians were “merely to show how it actually was”, photography thus threatening to make them redundant (7). Defending their utility, historians detailed photography’s limitations, particularly its inability to see beneath surfaces (someone’s thoughts) or beyond the frame (circumstance) (8). Favoured though sight is, the simultaneous experience of other senses (physical and emotive) enhance it. While touching and smelling physical photographs is possible, communicating their content depends mostly on narrowed application of sight alone; after all, photographs are flat, fixed, and cropped (9). Modern language hints at these limitations. The phrase ‘photos don’t do it justice’ is commonly said by eyewitnesses underwhelmed by photographic representation. Photographs can underwhelm because they are merely compositions of light wholly dependent on the skill and circumstance of the photographer. Another clue is the ‘taking’, not ‘making’, of photographs. We do not consider photographs fabrications of reality, but we do consider them representations lifted from reality; as photographers ‘take’ or reveal perspectives from within wider reality, so wider reality is ‘taken’ or concealed from photographs.

Ultimately, these limitations meant photography did not supplant historians, though by the mid-nineteenth century, photography was predicted to be a “great service […] to the historian of future ages” (10). In 2019, however, Elizabeth Edwards described photographs as historical sources as:

strange and different […] ‘alternative’ sources […] subject to the familiar cultural processes […] They are dynamic, difficult, slippery, ambiguous, incongruous and contradictory […] They lead on seductively. They reveal in ways texts never could. But they also face us with the dualities of the relationship with history – visceral yet discursive, instinctive yet interpretive, sensuous yet cognitive, voluptuous yet analytical (11).

Critically, as Edwards suggests, photographs can be useful historical sources but can also be manipulated and manipulating, a fact exploited by propagandists. Beyond propaganda, photography still manipulates perception and memory, whether people were present at a photographed event or not. Roland Barthes insists “not only is the Photograph never, in essence, a memory […] but it actually blocks memory” (12). Certain perspectives are made permanent, distorting memories made from lived experience (13). John Tagg writes:

What alone unites the diversity of sites in which photography operates is the social formation itself: the specific historical spaces for representation and practice which it constitutes. Photography as such has no identity. Its status as a technology varies with the power relations which invest it. Its nature as a practice depends on the institutions and agents which define it and set it to work (14).

Tagg’s work establishes the theoretical framework for my suggestion there are four types of Auschwitz photography: 1) perpetrator – taken by, or under orders from, the Nazis, showing victimisation; 2) resistor – taken by victims in acts of resistance, showing criminality; 3) liberator – taken by enemy forces, showing extent; 4) visitor – taken by visitors post-1945, showing (dis)connection. These distinctions are critical to meaningful engagement with Auschwitz photography.

Perpetrator Photography

On 2 February 1943, Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss banned all unofficial photography, adding “I will punish with the utmost severity those who do not observe this order” (15). Considering they wanted Auschwitz hidden, the SS took an incredible amount of official photographs during the camp’s operation: from prisoner identification, to propaganda depicting ‘humane’ treatment of Soviet POWs, to executions and medical experiments (16). Their assumption Germany would be victorious contributed to such brazen documentation of their own atrocities, so when the Red Army approached, the SS scrambled to erase the evidence at Auschwitz. Between 17 and 26 January 1945, the SS blew up crematoria and gas chambers, set fire to warehouses and records, and evacuated 58,000 prisoners on ‘Death Marches’ into the Reich’s interior (17). Soviet troops liberated the camp on 27 January, finding a former gas chamber intact, the belongings of hundreds of thousands and victims, and some 7,000 prisoners left behind; the SS simply failed to obscure the truth from history (18).

It is unknown how many prisoner identification photographs the SS successfully destroyed, but images of 38,916 prisoners survived; taken in profile, face on, and face on with caps for males and shawls for females (19). Those sent straight to gas chambers were not photographed (20). Defining these photographs is their subjects’ powerlessness; the images themselves constitute abuse. Moreover, the photographers were also prisoners, units known as Erkennungsdienst, forced to abuse fellow prisoners accordingly (21). Wilhelm Brasse, an Erkennungsdienst photographer who took some 50,000 prisoner identification photographs, died in 2012, guilt preventing him from holding a camera after 1945 (22). He described photographing his fellow prisoners:

At first their eyes were bursting with fright, with time, they became indifferent. The vision of a starving human being is forlorn, looking into infinity […] When I was taking pictures of them, I asked them not to look into the camera directly, but just to the side of the camera. “Don’t smile, don’t cry” – I would say (23).

Exhibiting these photographs risks perpetuating abuse and defining the subjects on such terms. The Faces of Auschwitz project, a collaboration between the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial and Brazilian photo colourisation specialist, Marina Amaral, says their aim is:

to honor the memory and lives of Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoners by colorizing registration photographs […] 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 […] More than coloring their faces, we will also tell their stories (24).

If telling prisoners’ stories is the aim, why use photographs of them experiencing genocidal abuse? Why include an interactive ‘before and after colouristation’ tool? If memorialisation is the aim, does colourising the pictures achieve this? For example, of Seweryna Szmaglewska’s two images (below), does not the black and white one from her normal life better preserve the memory of who she really was than her colourised Auschwitz registration photograph?

These two images appear on Szmaglewska’s page on the project’s website. Attaching her regular photograph (though without information of when, where, or by whom it was taken) underneath her identification pictures and (brief) life story suggests an awareness of the need to show Szmaglewska as she really was, not only as the Nazis saw and abused her; an admission, perhaps, of the project’s controversial nature. No regular picture appears on Aron Löwi’s page and his identification photographs (below) reveal an injury, so the ethicality of exhibiting his images is even more questionable. If ‘telling Löwi’s story’ is the aim, why does the project not discuss a lack of other photographs of him or even how he sustained his injury? Apart from the red triangle branding him a communist, what does colourisation really achieve?

Some might say exhibiting these photographs of Löwi is better than exhibiting none at all, but doing so with minimal context moves from commemorating him as a Nazi victim to cementing him as one; viewers forced to look through Nazi eyes yet not to see what they did. Of photographs of abuse, Susan Sontag writes:

What is the point of exhibiting these pictures? To awaken indignation? To make us feel “bad”; that is, to appall and sadden? To help us mourn? Is looking at such pictures really necessary, given that these horrors lie in a past remote enough to be beyond punishment? Are we better for seeing these images? Do they actually teach us anything? Don’t they rather just confirm what we already know (or want to know)? (25)

These photographs provide evidence of Nazi crimes and the Auschwitz arrival process, but voyeurism is inherent howsoever their exhibition is justified. An article in Metro, titled ‘Faces of Auschwitz prisoners are even more devastating in colour’, uses voyeuristic and revictimising language to describe the project: “artist Marina Amaral has managed to bring these nine victims of the Nazi regime back into the present”, the colourisation “breath[ing] life” into the photographs (26). Online, the article is surrounded by advertisements (screenshot below). The undignified presentation in Metro is not the project’s fault, but it underscores the risks of exhibiting perpetrator photographs no matter how they are redressed.

Resistor Photography

The only surviving examples of resistor photography at Auschwitz are the four Sonderkommando photographs. While the industrialisation of the genocide makes the Holocaust a unique historical event, the mass murder systems still required significant manual slave labour. Sonderkommandos assisted in every stage of the murderous ‘assembly line’ at Auschwitz: corralling victims from trains to gas chambers, pillaging their belongings (and bodies) for the Reich treasury, moving their corpses from gas chambers to crematoria, and disposing of their ashes. However, the number of Hungarian Jews arriving in the summer of 1944 ‘overloaded’ Auschwitz’s facilities and alternative methods were needed. Taken that summer, these photographs (below) are the only visual record of these events.

A note smuggled out of Auschwitz by prisoners Jósef Cyrankiewicz and Stanisław Kłodziński on 4 September 1944 reveals something of the desperate circumstances surrounding these photographs:

Urgent. Send two iron reels of film (2 1/2 x 3 1/2 in.) as soon as possible. It is possible to take pictures. We send you photographs from Birkenau—people who have been gassed. The photograph shows a heap of bodies piled outdoors. Bodies were burned outdoors when the crematorium could not keep pace with the number of bodies to be burned. In the foreground are bodies ready to be thrown on the heap. Another photograph shows one of the places in the forest where people were told to undress, allegedly for a bath, but in fact before being driven to the gas chambers. Send a reel as soon as possible. Send the enclosed photographs to Tell (27).

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum’s exhibition of these four photographs says they were taken by “members of the Sonderkommando of crematorium V: Alex from Greece […] Shlomo Dragon and his brother Josel, Alter Szmul Fajnzylberg […] and David Szmulewski”. In his testimony, Fajnzylberg said “even though the Greek Jew, Alex, was the person who pressed the shutter, one can say that the pictures were taken by all of us” (28). These photographers were all victims of Nazism, but their actions documenting Nazi crimes stem not from their victimisation, but their resistance (29). In his assessment of these photographs, Dan Stone writes:

Photographs taken by members of the SS are today no less horrific to our eyes for the fact of their authorship, but the Sonderkommando photographs are especially harrowing, not only because of their content but also because of the extreme difficulties involved in taking them, smuggling the film out of the camp, and having them developed in Kraków (30).

Stressing their “manifest importance”, Stone nonetheless criticises their exhibition at places like the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum and the Holocaust Exhibition at London’s Imperial War Museum (31). Stone’s critiques centre on the editing or omission of some combination of the four photographs, often without informing viewers. Instead of showing the four photographs as they were taken by the Sonderkommandos, which Stone says produce horror and disorientation, exhibitors select and manipulate the images to retain only the desired horror. For example, the original Sonderkommando photographs (below, left) are often enhanced and cropped (below, right).

Detail is gained in the manipulated images, and detailing Nazi crimes was the Sonderkommandos’ intention, but the manipulation loses all context; as if taken in the open by a passive bystander, resistor photography essentially disfigures into perpetrator photography. The ethics of morphing resistance photography into furthering victimisation are obviously questionable. Stone suggests the second images satisfy “a desire to get closer to the ‘thing itself’, possess it, render it amenable to the senses and cognizable in a way that the [original] photograph will not allow” (32). Yet without context of who took these pictures and why, what is the point of exhibiting them? In the instance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial’s exhibition, Stone writes “Apart from the fact that the visitor is seeing them in Auschwitz, there is nothing to indicate why these photographs are important”, noting the label of “pornography of violence” is applicable since “The photographs are displayed with only one thing in mind: shock” (33). Understanding the nature of Auschwitz photographs, as much as they can be ‘understood’, extends into their presentation in ways reflecting this understanding.

Liberator Photography

On 10 December 1942, the Polish government-in-exile published a report detailing Germany’s systemic mass murder of Polish Jews “In the hope that the civilised world will draw the appropriate conclusions” (34). The report mentioned “Extermination camps” where people “were stripped and killed by various means, including poison gas” (35). But so extraordinary were the claims they were “simply unbelievable” (36). Experienced with Nazi brutality, the Soviets nonetheless struggled to comprehend the extermination camps they encountered as they moved across Poland, beginning with Majdanek on 23 July 1944. They opened Majdanek as the first camp museum in November 1944 for journalists and soldiers “who needed to see in order to believe” (37). Western media remained suspicious, David Shneer writing:

The problem with Soviet photographs was that the Soviet media were considered unreliable. Western press agencies were suspicious of Soviet sources, and dismissed images published in Soviet newspapers or coming over the wires from Soviet sources as “propaganda,” […] like Soviet print and radio, Soviet photographs were presumed to be lies (38).

It was not until the Western Allies pushed into Germany in 1945 and discovered camps for themselves that the truth dawned on them; they had ‘to see it to believe it’. The same was true for the public. An exhibition staged by the Daily Express at their reading room in London, titled ‘Seeing Is Believing’, opened on 1 May 1945 and left visitors in “horrified silence” (39). Some attendees were interviewed upon exiting, many saying they had heard about the camps but had never envisaged anything so terrible, assuming the reports had been exaggerated. One said “I couldn’t bear to look at them all” and another “I believe it’s true. I can see with my own eyes. Pictures don’t lie” (40).

While the Soviets the Allies both liberated camps, their experiences were different. Owing to the rapid Soviet advances in the East, the Nazis relocated eastern prisoners to western camps, so the Soviets typically encountered relatively small numbers of prisoners in large, abandoned complexes, while the Western Allies typically found large numbers of prisoners in relatively small, overcrowded complexes. The horrifying liberator photographs of emaciated prisoners and corpses that became so well-known in the West were taken at these smaller, overcrowded camps liberated by the Western Allies in the spring of 1945, such as Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald. Meanwhile, photographs from the East (such as Auschwitz), while capturing the human suffering also focused on abandoned industrial evidence (41). Furthermore, getting photographic material on the Eastern Front was much harder, limiting what could be photographed (42). In sum, liberator photographs in the West were easier to take and distribute, the sources were more ‘reliable’, and the images more ‘dramatic’, resulting in Auschwitz slipping into the background of Western consciousness.

That said, the Western Allies took the first of what can be classed as liberator photographs of Auschwitz. On a reconnaissance mission of a nearby fuel factory in Monowitz on 4 April 1944, the South African Air Force unintentionally took the first photographs of Auschwitz by people who were never supposed to see it. Later missions photographed it in more detail, and while it was identifiable as a sprawling camp complex, the truth was only revealed when Soviet ground forces arrived on 27 January 1945 (the labels on the aerial photograph below added later by US intelligence) (43). On the ground, Soviet photographers took ‘traditional’ liberator photographs, with stills taken from the film Chronicle of the Liberation of Auschwitz among the most well-known, such as the one of children behind barbed wire (44). Other photographs show piles of the deceased’s belongings (wedding rings, glasses, shoes, prosthetics, hair, etc.) and the terrible physical states of the survivours. These images eventually became familiar in the West, as evidenced by CNN’s feature marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation (45).

It may seem Allied aerial photographs and Soviet photographs from the ground have little in common, other than their militaries fighting the Nazis. However, two striking characteristics are shared that define liberator photography, transcending time, place, and politics. First, there is an emotional ‘distance’ between the photographers and the subject. This is not to suggest the photographers lack empathy, it is simply an inevitability when the photographer is neither victim nor perpetrator. For many liberating photographers this distance was necessary, Margaret Bourke-White writing of photographing Buchenwald “Only through the viewfinder could I calmly watch these macabre scenes” (46). This distance has only increased with time and problematises much modern engagement with the Holocaust (discussed more in ‘Visitor Photography’). Secondly, there is a sense of the need to show extent: the size of the camp; the depth of a hatred that imprisons children; the severity of the starvation; the sheer number of victims, shown through piles of wedding rings, glasses, prosthetics, shoes, and corpses.

These characteristics suggest ‘liberator’ photography might be better labelled ‘documenter’ or ‘chronicler’, but the photography is an extension of liberation. Since the Nazis had already left, how is this the case? Was the Red Army ever a ‘liberating’ force or just a ‘conquering’ one? Were they liberating truth or seizing “control of the means of symbolic production”? (47) As Jefferey Alexander writes:

if it had been the Soviets and not the Allies who “liberated” most of the camps, and not just those in the Eastern sector, what was discovered might never have been portrayed in a remotely similar way. It was, in other words, precisely and only because the means of symbolic reproduction were not controlled by a victorious postwar Nazi regime, or even by a triumphant communist one, that the mass killings could be called the Holocaust and coded as evil (48).

For example, unsatisfied with footage of Auschwitz prisoners’ emotionally and physically exhausted reactions to the initial ‘liberation’, the Soviets re-staged the event with prisoners rushing up to the soldiers in a wave of euphoria (49). Certainly, however, the Soviets saw themselves as liberators of Europe and of historical narrative from Nazi control. In this way, liberator photographs from the East and West, regardless of circumstances, bear similar hallmarks: distance, extent, and liberation of the truth from Nazi domination. The characteristics of distance and extent (or multitudinousness) are easily seen when viewing liberator photographs side-by-side (not shown, the well-known photographs of the dead would also demonstrate this characteristic):

Visitor Photography

More than 6,000 people a day walked underneath the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ gate at the entrance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial in 2019. It can be assumed hundreds of cameras (including smartphones) accompanied them, meaning thousands of digital photographs were likely taken at the camp each day. Indeed, the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ gate bottle-necks daily as visitors stop to photograph it. Struk writes “Not to be photographed under these gates would be like leaving Pisa without having been photographed with the leaning tower” (50). Inside the camp, visitors continue taking pictures; there exist more photographs now of the pairs of shoes than there are pairs of shoes. Some visitors even photograph the photographs on display—perpetrator, resistor, and liberator—a redoubling of the distance characteristic of latter’s category. Why photograph a photograph? Sontag answers:

Most tourists feel compelled to put the camera between themselves and whatever is remarkable that they encounter. Unsure of other responses, they take a picture. This gives shape to experience: stop, take a photograph and move on (51). 

What happens to these images? Struk suggests these pictures become lost in people’s physical and digital collections, or posted to social media accounts, a modern variant of the nonchalance seen in the albums the Nazis kept, such as the so-called Auschwitz Album (an infamous example of perpetrator photography showing the arrival of Hungarian Jews about to be gassed in the summer of 1944, kept in the same album as pictures of Christmas celebrations) (52). Struk perhaps goes too far in drawing a moral equivalency between perpetrator and visitor rphotography, but her point is still valid: what use are these photographs beyond proof that a person visited Auschwitz? The ease in which digital photographs can be taken today is part of the answer; when technology changes, so does human behaviour: “the machine evolves together with us; its mutation is our mutation” (53). But the phenomenon of ‘dark tourism’ provides more insight.

Visiting places like Auschwitz falls under tourism’s ‘dark’ subset. Lea Kuznik outlines 17 categories of dark tourism, distinguishing the Holocaust from other genocide tourism due to its number of associated sites, museums, and memorials across Europe and the world (54). Since they had no choice, dark tourism does not describe the German citizens forced to visit the camps by the victorious powers in the war’s immediate aftermath, though on this subject Shneer writes:

when photographs might fail to convince, the act of physically bearing witness, of seeing with one’s own eyes, became the most important way of proving to a disbelieving public the veracity of Nazi atrocities (55).

Kuznik outlines the seven main motivators behind dark tourism—curiosity, education, empathy, horror, nostalgia, remembrance, and survivour’s guilt—all thus acknowledging the Holocaust’s factuality (56). So, as Stone suggests with regards to the manipulated Sonderkommando photographs, dark tourists also seek getting ‘closer to the thing’, to make personal connections. Once at these sites, satisfying some combination of these seven motivators, dark tourists behave in different ways; some take no photographs, some take hundreds. In order to maintain decorum at the site, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum has rules it expects visitors to adhere to: “Visitors to the grounds of the Museum should behave with due solemnity and respect. Visitors are obliged to dress in a manner befitting a place of this nature” (57). Only commercial photographs, drone usage, and photographing security systems require permission (58).

Inevitably, with the volume of daily visitors, some fail to meet the expectations of ‘due solemnity and respect’. Often, these visitors take photographs as part of their disrespectful behaviour and share them on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Only when their posts receive online backlash do they realise the inappropriateness of their conduct, sometimes making apologies and deleting their posts, suggesting the gravity of Auschwitz was poorly understood during their visit. In 2017, for example, Republican Congressman Clay Higgins took a selfie video inside the former gas chamber at Auschwitz and uploaded it to YouTube, using the setting to advocate for US military spending. After severe backlash, he took the video down (59). But perhaps the most famous example is Breanna Mitchell, who on 20 June 2014, posted a selfie of her at Auschwitz to her Twitter account ‘Princess Breanna’ with the text “Selfie in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp” followed by the rosy-cheeked smiling emoji. Quickly going viral, Mitchell became known as the “Auschwitz Selfie Girl”. Breanna’s example gained more attention than others (of which there are plenty) partly because she defended her actions, saying the Holocaust was the area of history her father was most interested in and that he had recently passed away, so the post was in memory of him (60). Though her explanation provided some context, it suggested she remained unaware of what is so objectionable about such posts: relegating Auschwitz to a mere background for photographs emphasising the photographer sidelines the millions of victims. Attempting to show their connection, photographs like Mitchell’s (below) actually reveal a serious disconnect, the expansion of the distance which began enlarging the moment liberators arrived. Of the four Auschwitz photography subsets discussed, visitor photography has the unique ability to make the photographer the central focus.

While the Internet sometimes forgives, it never forgets, and the image of Mitchell smiling in Auschwitz serves as an enduring warning to would-be visitors to understand the nature of their visit and their photography. Last year, the museum attempted to reinforce this message on its own Twitter account,  reminding visitors that victims should be the focus their visit, not themselves, including objectionable visitor photographs (below) and adding “Respect their memory”.


When exhibiting or taking photographs of Auschwitz, there exists a fine line between honouring victims and exploiting them. I have outlined four distinct categories of Auschwitz photography and suggested that understanding these categories can help avoid revictimisation or denigration. In short: perpetrators documented victims; resistors documented criminality; liberators documented extent; visitors document themselves. Perpetrator photography was abuse and exhibiting it risks perpetuating that abuse, while resistor photography was evidence and tampering with it risks tampering with evidence. Meanwhile, liberator photography was necessarily distant, with photographers needing to emotionally and physically step back in order to reveal scale, while visitors step forward in an attempt to reduce that distance, but by photographing their attempt they merely expand it. Ultimately, however, all these photographs are merely compositions of light, so it is incumbent upon historians and exhibitors to aid the understanding of what lies beneath the surface and beyond the frame, the ‘dark’. With careful consideration, we can use photographs to help illuminate what the Nazis tried to keep shrouded in darkness.


  1. ‘2 million 320 thousand visitors at the Auschwitz Memorial in 2019’, 7 January 2020, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum,; accessed 24 September 2020; ‘Concentration Camp Memorial Site: Visitor Information’, Dachau,; accessed 25 September 2020; Marcel Fürstenau, ‘Sachsenhausen concentration camp: Anniversary of liberation’, Deutsche Welle, 22 April 2018,; accessed 25 September 2020; ‘Annual Reports: Reports on the Museum Activities’, State Museum at Majdanek,; accessed 25 September 2020.
  2.  Aristotle, The Metaphysics trans. John H. McMahon (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1991), p. 11.
  3. John 20:24.
  4. Carsten Strathausen, “The Speaking Gaze of Modernity”, The Look of Things: Poetry and Vision around 1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), p. 45.
  5. Ibid, p. 38; ‘Frisius Gemma’s illustration of a camera obscura, 1544’, Science & Society Picture Library Prints,; accessed 30 September 2020.
  6. Alasdair Whittle, The Times of Their Lives (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2018), p. 19.
  7. Jens Jäger, “Elective Affinities?: History and Photography”, Global Photographies eds. Sissy Helff and Stefanie Michels (Magdeburg: Transcript Verlag, 2018), p. 40.
  8. Ibid, p. 40-1.
  9.  Nicoletta Leonardi and Simone Natale, Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century (United States: Penn State University Press, 2018), p. 208.
  10. Jäger, p. 42.
  11. Elizabeth Edwards, “Thoughts on Photography and the Practice of History”, The Ethics of Seeing: Photography and Twentieth-Century German History,eds. Jennifer Evans, Paul Betts, and Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019), p. 24.
  12. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 2010), p. 91.
  13. Dario L M Sacchi, Franca Agnoli,  and Elizabeth F Loftus, “Changing history: doctored photographs affect memory for past public events”, Applied Cognitive Psychology, vol. 21, no. 8, 20 November 2007, pp. 1005–22.
  14. John Tagg, The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988), p. 118.
  15. Janina Struk, Photographing the Holocaust: Interpretations of the Evidence (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2004), p. 104.
  16. Ibid, p. 102.
  17. ‘Liberation’, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum,; accessed 3 October 2020.
  18. ‘Liberation’, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,; accessed 3 October 2020.
  19. ‘Faces of Auschwitz’, Faces of Auschwitz,; accessed 28 September 2020.
  20. ‘Registration and Marking System’, Ibid.
  21. Struk, p. 102.
  22. Anna Dobrowolska, The Photographer from Auschwitz (Poland: Rekontrplan, 2013), p. 9.
  23. ‘The Photographer from Auschwitz’, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, 26 November 2013,; accessed 4 October 2020.
  24. ‘Faces of Auschwitz’.
  25. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003), p. 92.
  26. Joe Roberts, ‘Faces of Auschwitz prisoners are even more devastating in colour’, Metro, 31 May 2018,; accessed 4 October 2020.
  27. Struk, p. 114.
  28. Dan Stone, “The Sonderkommando photographs”, Jewish Social Studies, vol. 7, no. 3, Spring 2001, p. 132.
  29. Kate Lawless, “Memory, Trauma, and the Matter of Historical Violence: The Controversial Case of Four Photographs from Auschwitz”, American Imago, vol. 71, no. 4, Winter 2014, p. 395.
  30. Stone, p. 132.
  31. Ibid, p. 137.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Ibid.
  34. ‘The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland’, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 December 1942, p. 3.
  35. Ibid, p. 9.
  36. David Shneer, “Is Seeing Believing? Photographs, Eyewitness Testimony, and Evidence of the Holocaust”, East European Jewish Affairs, vol. 45, no. 1, 2015, p. 65.
  37. Ibid, p 68; ‘Museum History’, State Museum at Majdanek,; accessed 7 October 2020.
  38. Ibid, pp. 65-6.
  39. Maureen Waller, London 1945 (London: John Murrary, 2004), p. 78.
  40. Struk, p. 125.
  41. Ibid, p. 146.
  42. Ibid, p. 143-6.
  43. ‘Aerial Photographs of Auschwitz’, Yad Vashem,; accessed 8 October 2020.
  44. ‘The film that documents the crime’, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum,; accessed 10 October 2020.
  45. ‘In pictures: The liberation of Auschwitz’, CNN, 27 January 2020,; accessed 9 October 2020.
  46. Struk, p. 146.
  47. Jefferey C Alexander, Remembering the Holocaust (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 8.
  48. Ibid, pp. 8-9.
  49. John J Michalczyk, Filming the End of the Holocaust (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014), p. 50.
  50. Struk, p. 189.
  51. Sontag, On Photography (London: Penguin Books, 1979), p. 10.
  52. ‘Struk, p. 190; Auschwitz Through the Lens of the SS: A Tale of Two Albums’, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,; accessed 10 October 2020.
  53. Jelena Stojković, “Vision Without the Eye: Following the Material of Abstract Photography”, See eds. Andrea Pavoni, Danilo Mandic, Caterina Nirta, and Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (London: University of Westminster Press, 2018), p. 40.
  54. Lea Kuznik, “Fifty shades of dark stories”, Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology (Fourth Edition) ed. Mehdi Khosrow-Pour (Pennsylvania: IGI Global, 2018), p. 4079.
  55. Shneer, p. 67.
  56. Kuznik, pp. 80-1.
  57. ‘Regulations for visitors and persons staying on the grounds of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum’, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, 1 October 2020, § 2.1.
  58. Ibid, § 3.14-5.
  59. Jack Holmes, ‘This U.S. Congressman’s Selfie Video At Auschwitz Is Deeply Unsettling’, Esquire, 5 July 2017,; accessed 11 October 2020.
  60. Jessica Durando, ‘Auschwitz Selfie Girl Breanna Mitchell Defends Her Controversial Picture’, USA Today, 24 July 2014,; accessed 9 October 2020.

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