It may have been the magic touch of the “angel of history,” or just a simple miracle, that led to the survival of the rare photographic document, the “Auschwitz Album”, to be donated to the photo archives of Yad Vashem. This Album is unique in the entire world. It documents, in about two hundred photos from every direction and from every angle, the process of arrival, the enlisting, the selection, the confiscation of property and the preparation for the physical liquidation of a Jewish transport. This Transport came from the area of Carpatho-Ruthenia, a region annexed in 1939 to Hungary from Czechoslovakia, and arrived at the ramp of the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau on May 1944.
The most surprising and striking fact is that the Album fell into the hands of a survivor of that same death transport. Lili Jacob opened an album and suddenly recognized the people of her community, who arrived with her to the platform of Birkenau: her rabbi, her numerous family relatives and... herself. Yad Vashem and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum present this special edition that includes one picture that had been missing for years and additional information on the deportees’ identity and their tragic fate.
“The photographs in ‘The Auschwitz Album’ are thus another layer of testimony, and as is generally the case for visual evidence, are very powerful, allowing a glimpse into the very core of the inferno. The gut reaction to these pictures is, naturally enough, a sense that we are looking at ‘The Evidence’ – ultimate proof of the stories we have heard time and again, which are now elevated to the status of absolute, uncontestable truth… Readers of this book are therefore sentenced to being tossed back and forth, between the urge to keep poring over this unique historical document and not to turn their eyes away, and the sense of unease that this magnetic hold over them creates.” [Dr. Iris Milner, Ha’aretz]
“As the day went on, the sun shone bleftly on the faces of the humiliated, already dressed in the prisoners’ striped pajamas, some too big, some too small… They stood facing the cameras as if they had only known this from time immemorial, standing as prisoners, knowing and not-knowing, facing the camera.” [Ma’’ariv]
“The outstanding innovation in this splendid edition of the Album… is the attempt to identify the names of those appearing in the photos mere seconds before they were gassed to death… This is a very valuable documentary tool for the understanding of the complex, multifaceted issue of Auschwitz.” [Gideon Greif, Yedioth Ahronoth]