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May 28, 2017

Faces of Nazism: Black and White Portraits of Auschwitz Guards, Who Killed Million Jews During World War II

In January 2017, Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance published a massive online record of the Auschwitz staff. The searchable database of the 8,502 overwhelmingly German personnel was created in part to dispel claims that the camp was staffed by many Polish guards.

The list shows that most names are predominantly German. Guards and SS Commanders’ pre-conflict occupations are also listed, their careers include farmers, butchers, teachers, cobblers among other jobs.

Hitler ordered the construction of Auschwitz-Birkenau in the Poland a year after German forces invaded in 1939. The death camp was initially intended to hold Polish political prisoners, though it was later handed over to the SS.

Between 1942 and 1945 around 1.1 million Jews died there. Jewish men, women and children were slaughtered in gas chambers, through starvation, beatings or even being worked to death.

The photographs offer no insight into each individual’s capacity to commit atrocities on a scale rarely witnessed in history.

Fritz Taddiken, former painter and glazier. Promoted to Unterscharführer (Junior Squad Leader) in the SS in 1944. Later convicted of war crimes by a court in Krakow.

Johannes Maranca, WWI veteran and former tinsmith and roofer. Returned to duty in the SS in 1944 as a Scharführer (Squad Leader).

Helmut Grundschok, former apprentice plumber. Joined the SS in 1939 and rose to the rank of Unterscharführer (Junior Squad Leader).

Hans Ansorg, former bank clerk. Joined SS in 1933 and rose to rank of Oberscharführer (Senior Squad Leader).

Walter Salawey, former farmer. Joined SS in 1941 and reached rank of Sturmmann (stormtrooper).

Horst Panitzsch, former carpenter and Hitler Youth. Transferred to SS in 1944.

Detlef Nebbe, former merchant. Joined the SS in 1933 and reached the highest enlisted rank of Hauptscharführer (Head Squad Leader).

Gottfried Paggen, former laborer. Joined SS in 1944 as a Rottenführer (Corporal).

Robert Nagy, former electrician. Joined SS in 1942 as a Sturmmann (Stormtrooper).

Richard Lamb, former miner. Joined SS in 1935 and reached rank of Rottenführer (Corporal).

Willi Heindorf, former judicial secretary. Joined SS in 1933 as a Scharführer (Squad Leader).

Johannes Gunesch, former farmer. Joined SS in 1943 as a Schütze (Private).

Martin Flohr, former locksmith. Joined SS in 1943 and reached rank of Sturmmann (Stormtrooper).

Ernst Fischer, former pharmacist. Joined SS in 1941 and reached rank of Unterscharführer (Junior Squad Leader).

Kolomann Bistritz, former farmer. Joined SS in 1944 as a Schütze (Private).

Felix Becker, former farmer. Joined SS in 1942 as a Sturmmann (Stormtrooper).

Adolf Becker, former watchmaker and optician. Joined SS in 1934 and reached the highest enlisted rank of Hauptscharführer (Head Squad Leader).

Lorenz Becker, former merchant. Joined SS in 1944 as a Schütze (Private).

Albin Ackermann, former waiter. Joined SS in 1944 as a Sturmmann (Stormtrooper).

Johannes Badstuebner, former miner. Joined SS in 1944 as an Unterscharführer (Junior Squad Leader).

Joseph Hefner, former student merchant. Joined SS in 1942 as a Sturmmann (Stormtrooper).


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