This week marks seventy years since the liberation of prisoners held at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. More than a million people, mostly Jews, were killed there between 1940 and 1945, when Soviet troops liberated the camp.
Professor Rob Heller took the photos below at Auschwitz in 2007 while in Poland to attend the opening of his Living On photo exhibit.
Living On, features Heller’s portraits of Holocaust survivors and liberators from Tennessee. The exhibit has been shown in museums throughout Tennessee and at major cities in Poland.
A book of the exhibit was published by the University of Tennessee Press in spring 2008.
At Birkenau, the deportation trains stopped. Prisoners were selected for forced labor or instant death by poison gas.
Upon arrival, prisoners chosen to live were cleaned and shaved at a building known as the “Sauna.”
Wooden barracks were originally built as stables for fifty-two horses. They later held as many as 1,000 prisoners each.
Eighteen of the almost 300 original wooden barracks at Birkenau still stand.
Barbed-wire fences still surround the grounds at Birkenau.
Escape from Birkenau was rare, and those who were captured were publicly executed.
The word Birkenau means “birch-tree meadow.”
Belongings from prisoners still are found among the debris at Auschwitz.
“To the memory of the men, women, and children who fell victim to the Nazi genocide. Here lie their ashes. May their souls rest in peace.”
Memorial stones are placed at the ruins of the crematorium.
Watchtowers overlook the 425 acres of Birkenau, also known as Auschwitz II.
“Arbeit Macht Frei.” Work makes you free.
Until spring 1943, every Auschwitz prisoner was photographed for identification. Jews brought in mass transports were not photographed.
The Barracks at Auschwitz currently house exhibits and displays.
The former officers’ quarters at Auschwitz now serve as private apartments.
Auschwitz has become a popular tourist destination.