09 July 2022

The Polish Resistance photographs from Birkenau (4)

   (Continuation of part 3. The first part, where the abbreviations and references are given, is here.) 

The second set of photographs

There seems to be no evidence that the rollfilms urgently requested on 4.IX.1944 were ever delivered and, if so, if and how they were used. There has been a second shipment of photographs though. They were part of a secret message that left the camp on 20.XI.1944 (Polish text of Kassiber Nr 198 here, from [G]). The message from SK to TL deals with numerous unrelated items, and includes the single sentence

4) The photographs are from Auschwitz, except for the album – from the Lodz ghetto

With the message came a photo album, found on the unloading ramp, and three separate photographs. The former need not concern us here, because the photographs were taken earlier and not in Auschwitz. Unlike the previous shipment, the separate photographs now seem to be actual prints, processed within the camp. (Unless the receiver printed them outside the camp, and PMO acquired the prints afterwards.) In the archives of PMO we find them in this order:

APMA-B, Mat. RO, t. III, k.27
(Anton Brose of the Politische Abteilung)

APMA-B, Mat. RO, t. III, k.28
(a barack of "horse stable" type under construction in Birkenau)

APMA-B, Mat. RO, t. III, k.29
(SS-driver Johann Roth)

Evidently, #27 and #29 are official photographs of SS personnel, clandestinely obtained but certainly not clandestinely shot. Brose and Roth had played a major role in foiling a recent attempt to escape, but this does not explain why their photographs were smuggled out. The same question holds for #28. 

It is not clear why this was thought to be worth the risk of printing and smuggling out. Three prisoners are seen working on a typical barack, and intrinsically there is little difference with other preserved photographs showing prisoners casually at work. Maybe the shed played some role in the foiled escape, but even so: why send the picture after the attempt had failed? 

According to PMO, the photograph shown above is 55 mm x 30 mm, the paper sheet itself being 90 mm x 65 mm.