The Auschwitz Memorial Archives preserves 38,916 photos of registered prisoners: 31,969 photos of men & 6,947 photos of women. These photographs were taken from the first quarter of 1941 until spring 1943. In total, 400,000 people were registered as prisoners of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The math on this suggests that we've got photos of less than 10% of the prisoners that were held, murdered, or, if they were very lucky, survived the camp. The lives of each and every one of these individuals deserves to be honored. In collaboration with photo restoration and colorization specialist Marina Amaral and the Auschwitz Memorial Museum, I'm working on a project that aims to do exactly that.
Faces of Auschwitz is a project that will tell the story of each of the 38,916 registered prisoners that we have photos of, based on what records of their lives we have. Each week, we'll talk about the story of another prisoner of Auschwitz. Some will have survived. A few managed to escape. Most of those we profile will have died behind the barbed wire perimeter of the concentration camp. Marina's talents in photo restoration and colorization will breathe new life into the fading pictures of prisoners, bringing their faces into the modern era, while at the same time, ensuring that the colors used in the process are historically accurate.
While the Auschwitz Concentration Camp is infamously known for its role in Nazi Germany's plans to eradicate European Jewry, other groups were also tortured and senselessly murdered inside the camp’s walls as well: members of Poland's leadership, intellectuals, clergy and resistance activists, Sinti & Roma, Soviet POWs, Jehovah witnesses and homosexuals. We'll be telling their stories as well.
For my part, I'll be serving as an editor on the project. It's my job to create a coherent, readable story out of the material gleaned from the Auschwitz Memorial Archives. It's a passion project for me: I had family murdered in the back of vans in Minsk during the war. Their only crime was that they were Jewish. I volunteered my services to the project in order to honor my family and to ensure that the senseless hatred of the Nazis and their co-conspirators is never forgotten.
Faces of Auschwitz is a huge undertaking: a dedicated website is in the works, but for now, you can find the first two restored photos and the stories of the people in them on Marina's Website, here. Neither I nor Marina are being paid for our work on the Faces of Auschwitz. We serve the dead that the living might remember them.
Earlier today, we were proud to announce that Faces of Auschwitz will be sponsored by the Michael Frank Family Charitable Fund. The Foundation's generous contribution to our work will allow us to expand the scope of the project beyond what we can accomplish with a webpage and on social media: a book, talks surrounding the project, and an educational component are all in the works. I can't think of a greater responsibility or a greater honor than being a part of what we're creating.
Once the site is up and running, I'll drop you a line.
Images courtesy of Marina Amaral & the Auschwitz Memorial Museum.