There are so many Holocaust narratives out there, fictionalised and not, but The Auschwitz Photographer really took me by surprise. It’s an account of the story of Wilhelm Brasse, a Polish political prisoner who was put to work in Auschwitz in the Identity Service, taking photographs of incoming prisoners, and later being asked to take photos of medical experiments and other horrors of the camps for various Nazi officials. As rumours of the Allied Forces approaching became impossible to ignore, Brasse refused orders to destroy his work. His photos were essential evidence in the Nuremberg trials and are still held in Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and education centre in Jerusalem.
The Auschwitz Photographer is a masterful narrative with all the tension and twists of a Hollywood movie, and an important look at the resistance movement that occurred within concentration camps, with Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners working together to get information out of the camps and support each other. There is a lot of interesting context to Brasse’s story, especially the uncomfortable privilege he holds in the camp having an Austrian father and thus being recognised as “Ayran” by his captors. There is a clear understanding of the impact the Nazi regime continued to have in Europe long after the war ended, especially in Brasse’s native Poland.
Originally written in Italian, the translation isn’t the smoothest, but it is a deeply important narrative with shocking details and an essential reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Thank you to Penguin and Bookstagrammers.com for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.
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