Documenting the Holocaust: Auschwitz Photographer Wilhelm Brasse Dies
The photographer who took pictures of tens of thousands of Auschwitz prisoners during World War II died on Tuesday. Almost seven decades after the end of the war, Wilhelm Brasse’s pictures preserve the memory of Holocaust victims.
Wilhelm Brasse, the man responsible for innumerable photographs of prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp, died on Tuesday at the age of 95 in his hometown of Zywiec in Southern Poland. As a prisoner of the Nazis himself, Brasse took pictures of fellow inmates at the death camp as well as portraits of SS officers stationed at the infamous facility. He once estimated that he photographed between 40,000 to 50,000 prisoners.
Brasse was born in Austria in 1917 to an Austrian father and Polish mother and grew up in Southern Poland. He learned photography from aunt in the Polish city of Katowice.
When the Nazi army invaded Poland in 1939 he refused to pledge his allegiance to the Germans and joined the Polish army instead. He was captured by the Nazis as he was trying to cross the Hungarian border in 1940. After again refusing to declare his loyalty to Adolf Hitler, he was sent to the newly opened camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in August 31, 1940.