Auschwitz haunts photographer
Prisoner's work at the Nazi death camp enabled him to survive, but he never took pictures again.
Ryan Lucas / Associated Press
ZYWIEC, Poland -- For years afterward, photographer Wilhelm Brasse saw them in his dreams -- emaciated Jewish girls, herded naked in front of his camera at Auschwitz.
Eventually, his dreams stopped. But he never took pictures again.
"I didn't return to my profession, because those Jewish kids, and the naked Jewish girls, constantly flashed before my eyes," he said. "Even more so because I knew that later, after taking their pictures, they would just go to the gas."
"I must have taken 40,000 to 50,000 of those identity pictures," he said. Sometimes the prisoners had been beaten too badly for him to get a clear photograph of their faces.
"The picture wasn't taken and the prisoner was sent away and called back later, but sometimes it happened that there wasn't anybody to call back because they'd been able to murder him in the meantime," he said.
Brasse still keeps a prewar Kodak Retina camera at home. It sits unused.