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Colourised Photographs Bring New Life To Horrific Legacy Of The Holocaust

Colourised Photographs Bring New Life To Horrific Legacy Of The Holocaust

Today marks 75 years since thousands of prisoners were liberated from Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Between 1940 and 1945, 1.3 million men, women, and children were murdered at the infamous Nazi death camp.

The majority of those (1.1m) were Jews, but also included 140,00 Poles, 23,00 Romas, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and 25,000 others, including 400 Jehova's witnesses and at least 77 homosexuals.

A series of colourised photographs of prisoners bring new life to those who were persecuted by the Nazis.

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The series of pictures is part of a project between artist Marina Amaral and Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, called 'Faces of Auschwitz'.

Four-year-old Istvan Reiner was killed in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. Credit:Tom Marshall
Four-year-old Istvan Reiner was killed in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. Credit:Tom Marshall

According to the project's website: "The goal of the project is to honour the memory and lives of Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoners by colourising registration photographs culled from the museum's archive and sharing individual stories of those whose faces were photographed."

One of those brutally killed by the Nazis was Istvan Reiner, who was just four years old when he was photographed before being deported to Auschwitz along with his mother Livia Reiner and his grandmother.

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Upon his arrival at the camp, Ivan and his grandmother were separated from Livia and sent to the gas chamber, where they both died. Livia was assigned to forced labour but survived the war, after which she emigrated to America.

Iwan was murdered after having a phenol injection into his heart. Credit: https://facesofauschwitz.com/
Iwan was murdered after having a phenol injection into his heart. Credit: https://facesofauschwitz.com/

Another of those imprisoned by Nazis was a young girl called Czesława Kwoka. She was taken out of her home in eastern Poland along with her mother by the Nazis and arrived via train at the concentration camp on 13 December 1942, alongside 318 other women.

Sixty-seven days later she was dead, murdered from a phenol injection directly into her heart because she was deemed to be racially unsuitable for 'Germanisation' - a term used by the Nazis for the process to enforce their language, culture and ideologies onto the people of Eastern Europe.

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Iwan Rebałka was a political prisoner, who was just 17 years old when he was taken from his home in Syrowatka to the death camp. He died five months after his arrival, on 1 March 1943.

At the time of his death, his records were falsified, stating he died from a perinephric abscess - an abscess near the kidney. However, he was killed by a phenol injection to the heart by SS-Unterscharführer Scherpe.

Around 230,000 children were killed in this fashion in Auschwitz.

Another photo shows Janina Nowak. Aged 28, she managed to escape the camp, but in their anger at her escape the Nazis took their frustration out on 200 other Polish women who were imprisoned.

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Janina Nowak, who managed to escape from Auschwitz. Credit: https://facesofauschwitz.com/
Janina Nowak, who managed to escape from Auschwitz. Credit: https://facesofauschwitz.com/

The others refused to give up any information about her - some paid a heavy price for that.

Janina was later captured and brought back to Auschwitz, before being transferred to Ravensbrück, where she remained until its liberation at the end of April 1945.

Deliana Rademakers was a Jehovah's witness who, before her death, wrote a letter to her family that read: "Go bravely onwards without fear, Jehovah is with us, what can mere people do to us? Be valiant and fearless."

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Deliana Rademakers' photograph is among those that have been colourised as part of the project. Credit: https://facesofauschwitz.com/
Deliana Rademakers' photograph is among those that have been colourised as part of the project. Credit: https://facesofauschwitz.com/

A new Channel 4 documentary, Auschwitz Untold: In Colour, sees 16 Holocaust survivors tell their stories, using colourised footage from the time.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the series' director David Shulman said bringing colour to the images is a vital way of keeping the memory of those who died, alive for future generations.

He explained: "The colourisation of black and white archive is one aspect of making this history more accessible to a younger audience, and giving greater humanity to the people seen in the footage."

Featured Image Credit: https://facesofauschwitz.com/gallery/2018-4-16-faces-of-auschwitz-deliana-rademakers/

Topics: holocaust, auschwitz, Interesting, History, World War Two

Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]