“Wilhelm Brasse’ Mugshots”: Photographer Took Up To 50,000 Chilling Photos In Auschwitz For The Nazis During World War II
There were images of living virtual skeletons; of prisoners standing shoulder-to-shoulder in striped uniforms; of people with deformities; of disembowelled victims of purported medical experiments. And there were tens of thousands of prisoner identification photos – three of each inmate.
Many of those photographs were made by a young man named Wilhelm Brasse. He took them because, like the more than 2 million other inmates who died or managed to survive at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during World War II, he had no choice.
Wilhelm Brasse was compelled to take mug shots of the prisoners in Auschwitz, the Nazi extermination camp.
“I tried to calm them,’ he later confided.
He made studio portraits of the SS guards, too, and became popular with them, with a reputation for being able to put his subjects at ease. He told one officer to “sit comfortably, relax and think about your fatherland” before taking his picture. Brasse’s photographic skills certainly saved his life.