A new exhibition showing the horror of the Auschwitz extermination camp has opened at the Sefarad-Israel Cultural Centre in Madrid.
The exhibition was opened by the Madrid regional minister for culture, Marta Rivera, yesterday, 15th January and will run until the 25th July.
The exhibtion entitled ” Seeing Auschwitz,” brings together 100 images taken at the camp of victims and perpetrators.
Many of the photographs were taken by Karl Friedrich Hocker, who was a senior SS officer and assistant to the camp´s last commandant, SS Major, Richard Baer.
Both men were captured after the war; Hocker was given a 7 year sentence whilst Baer died before sentence could be pronounced.
The camp complex which consisted of some 40 camps and subcamps, was set up following the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and was a key component of the Nazi´s Final Solution.
Some 1.3 million people were transported there including nearly 1 million Jews – most of whom were gassed on arrival.
One victim, Leib Langfus, left a hidden account of the gassing process, found in 1952.
He wrote: ” It would be difficult to even imagine that so many people would fit in such a small [room]. Anyone who did not want to go inside was shot […] or torn apart by the dogs. They would have suffocated from the lack of air within several hours. Then all the doors were sealed tight and the gas thrown in by way of a small hole in the ceiling. There was nothing more that the people inside could do. And so they only screamed in bitter, lamentable voices. Others complained in voices full of despair, and others still sobbed spasmodically and sent up a dire, heart-rending weeping. … And in the meantime, their voices grew weaker and weaker … Because of the great crowding, people fell one atop another as they died, until a heap arose consisting of five or six layers atop the other, reaching a height of one meter. Mothers froze in a seated position on the ground embracing their children in their arms, and husbands and wives died hugging each other. Some of the people made up a formless mass. Others stood in a leaning position, while the upper parts, from the stomach up, were in a lying position. Some of the people had turned completely blue under the influence of the gas, while others looks entirely fresh, as if they were asleep”.
The camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on 27th January 1945.
The date is now marked as International Holocaust Memorial Day in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered.