Photographing the Holocaust


When the very first photos from Belsen Bergen and Buchenwald concentration camps were released in the late April 1945, the general public was incredulous. Yes, they had read the newspapers and heard the rumors, but they didn’t necessarily believe them, dismissing them as typical wartime propaganda by exiled governments. There were precedents, too: during World War I, it had been widely rumored that the Germans on the Western Front were melting down human bodies for fat (these rumors later turned out to be false).

Radio reporter Richard Dimbleby, a man of unimpeachable integrity, had had great difficulty persuading a dubious BBC to broadcast his fast eye-witness report from Belsen. A London cinema showing the first film from the camps was picketed by an angry crowd, protesting government ‘lies’. Their anger was shared by millions of Germans, who while aware of the camps, were convinced that the atrocities had been grossly exaggerated by Allied propaganda.

Photos helped turned this around. By the end of April 1945, eighty-one percent of the British population believed the Holocaust stories, up from thirty seven percent only six months earlier. On May 1, 1945, the Daily Express organized an exhibition called ‘Seeing is Believing’ in London, where people queued in thousands to see the pictures from Buchenwald. Later, a film from Belsen was shown in the cinemas: skeletons bulldozed into burial pits, and German civilians standing beside the SS at the graveside, all of it filmed in one take, so that there could be no accusations of trick photography.

The photo above and below showed Dr. Fritz Klein, a German doctor at Bergen-Belsen, at Mass Grave 3. It was photographed by a soldier from  The British Fifth Army Film & Photographic Unit shortly after the camp’s liberation on 15th April 1945. Unrepentant Klein, who began his work at Auschwitz-Birkenau, was eventually hanged in December 1945.

— some text incorporated from Nicholas Best’s Five Days That Shocked the World


12 thoughts on “Photographing the Holocaust

  1. Innocents sympathy and Kindness are healing the terror network for better attack. No mercy for terror because terror generation must eliminate with the roots.

    I suspect your picture try to inject me sympathy?

    I am not interest your picture and I feel your picture expression dangerous trap for the success of terrorism

    Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 15:45:43 +0000 To:

  2. I hope we never forget what human beings are capable of doing to one another, and that we never let it happen again. I hope there is never a day when more than a small minority believe the Holocaust never happened.

  3. Before this happened, when this happened, while this was happening, after this happened, and still today, every single person with the “faith” called “islam” believes this is what should still be happening today to every person with any religious connection to anything other than “islam”. At the least. Most of their “religion” calls for much greater pain in death for not being “one of them”.

  4. and since then .. the same people who suffered the so called holocaust are doing it to the rest of the world …. I just wish if Hitler has completed his favor and eliminated all them. Jews-free world is heaven

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