50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz

50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz

Jacob Miller - July 29, 2017

Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated in the annexed Polish land during World War II. Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners who first arrived in May 1940.

Plans for the total eradication of the Jewish population of Europe, eleven million people, were formalized at the Wannasse Conference on January 20, 1942. Initially, the victims were killed by the Einsatzgruppen death squads but this method proved to be impractical for such large-scale murder.

The first extermination took place in September 1941 and Auschwitz II—Birkenau became a major extermination site for Jews, Gypsies, and Soviet POWs. By the summer of 1944, the capacity of the crematoria and outdoor incineration pits for disposing the murdered bodies, was 20,000 per day.

Despite the thick concrete walls, screaming and crying could be heard from outside the gas chambers. In one failed attempt to muffle the noise, two motorcycle engines were revved up to full throttle outside the chambers. The cries could still be heard over the engines.

The prisoners’ day began at 4:30 in the morning with roll call, which lasted for hours. Even those who had died in the night had to be present at roll call, standing supported by fellow inmates until attendance had been recorded.

Kommando, work details, would then go to their respective places of work. A prisoner’s orchestra was forced to play cheerful music as the workers left the camp. The workday lasted 12 hours during the summer and a little bit less in the winter. Inmates often worked at construction sites, gravel pits, and lumberyards. They received no breaks.

On Sundays, the inmates did not work. They were required to clean the barracks and take their weekly shower. 800-1000 people were crammed into a single barrack. The camps were infested with disease-carrying lice. Typhus and other diseases and bacterial infections were rampant and took the lives of many.

Prisoners received a hot drink in the morning, but no breakfast, a thin, meatless vegetable soup for lunch, and a small ration of bread in the evening. The daily caloric intake did not exceed 700 calories.

In the evenings there was a second roll call. If a prisoner was missing, the others were forced to remain standing in place until they were found or the reason for their absence was discovered.

An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz. At least 1.1 million inmates were murdered, 90% of whom were Jewish.

50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Man at a piano. Etching, paper, 19,5 x 14 cm, KL Auschwitz 1944. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Etching, cardboard, 17 x 11 cm, KL Auschwitz 1943. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
inside of a male barrack in Birkenau
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Small feather, Indian ink, paper, 70 x 100 c, Warsaw1972. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Death of Hunger
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Small feather, black ink, paper, 53 x 40 cm, Poland 1945. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Return from Work from the cycle “Day of a prisoner”
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Small feather, black ink, paper, 66 x 82 cm, Poland 1950. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Through Work to Freedom
Author: Jan BaraÅ›-Komski
Small feather, Indian ink, paper, 20 x 16 cm, Germany 1945. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Shh – Silence from the cycle “Flowers of Auschwitz”
Author: Zinowij Tołkaczew
Small feather, Indian ink, cardboard, 30,5 x 22 cm, Poland 1945. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Flowers in the snow from the cycle “Flowers of Auschwitz”
Author: Zinowij Tołkaczew
Small feather, Indian ink, cardboard, 30,5 x 22 cm, Poland 1945. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
A portrait of Ludwik Chrobok
Author: Jacques Markiel
Pencil, cardboard, 14,5 x 10,5 cm, KL Jawischowitz 1944. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Father and son
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Small feather, Indian ink, cardboard, 25,5 x 14 cm, KL Melk 1945. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Prisoners
Author: Walter Spitzer
Paint, paper, 30 x 15,5 cm, France around 1960. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Prisoners room
Author: Walter Spitzer
Paint, paper, 24,5 x 24 cm, France around 1960. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Work – sorting out shoes from the cycle “Day of a female prisoner”
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Small feather, black ink, paper, 81 x 65 cm, Poland 1950. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Prayer
Author: Zofia Stępień
Pencil, crayons, paper, 14 x 8,8 cm, KL Auschwitz 1943. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Patent no 67353
Author: Zinowij Tołkaczew
Small feather, Indian ink, cartboard, 30,5 x 22 cm, Oświęcim 1945. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Dividing families
Author: Author unknown
Pencil, crayons, paper, 13,5 x 19,5 cm, KL Auschwitz 1942-44. Z Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Transport arriving at the unloading ramp
Author: Author unknown
Pencil, crayons, paper, 13,5 x 19,5 cm, KL Auschwitz 1942-44. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
To Gas
Author: Author unknown
Pencil, paper, 13,5 x 19,5 cm, KL Auschwitz 1942-44. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Mortuary
Author: Jerzy Adam Brandhuber
Charcoal, paper, 51 x 70 cm, Oświęcim 1949. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Work at a roller
Author: Franciszek Wieczorkowski
Pencil, paper, 21 x 27 cm, KL Auschwitz 1942. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Wheel-barrows from the cycle I “OÅ›wiÄ™cim”
Author: Jerzy Adam Brandhuber
Charcoal, paper, 54 x 36 cm, Oświęcim 1946. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Done In
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Black ink, paper, 32,5 x 24 cm, KL Auschwitz 1942. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Friendly Favor
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Brown crayon, paper, 21 x 29,5 cm, KL Auschwitz 1943. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Mother with her murdered child
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Small feather, black ink, paper, 55 x 41 cm, Poland 1946. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Spilled soup
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Small feather, Indian ink, paper, 55 x 41 cm, Poland 1946. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Letter from home
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Small feather, black ink, paper, 53 x 40 cm, Poland 1945. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Visiting a sick man
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Small feather, black ink, paper, 53 x 40 cm, Poland 1946. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Soup
Author: Halina OÅ‚omucka
Oil painting, canvas, 73 x 54 cm, 1963. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Here’s the man – episode from a concentration camp
Author: Czesław Lenczowski
Oil painting, canvas, 54,5 x 68,5 cm, Poland 1960. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Prayer
Author: Halina OÅ‚omucka
Oil painting, canvas, 55,2 x 38 cm. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Before selection
Author: Halina OÅ‚omucka
Mixed technique, cardboard, 40 x 60 cm. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
First steps in the camp
Author: Halina OÅ‚omucka
Mixed techinque, cardboard, 49,5 x 33,5 cm. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Last kiss
Author: Halina OÅ‚omucka
Mixed technique, cardboard, 24 x 32,5 cm. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Last breath
Author: Halina OÅ‚omucka
Oil painting, canvas, 80 x 59,5 cm, 1965. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Warm up
Author: Jan BaraÅ›-Komski
Oil painting, canvas, 123 x 151 cm, USA 1970-80. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
An unusual team for a roller
Author: Jan BaraÅ›-Komski
Small feather, Indian ink, cardboard, 52 x 69 cm, USA 1970-80. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Children… children…
Author: Zinowij Tołkaczew
Lithography, paper, 22 x 12,3 cm, Soviet Union 1945. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
On the way to work
Author: Janina Tollik
Oil painting, canvas, 65 x 81 cm, Warsaw 1991. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
A face from the female camp
Author: Jan BaraÅ›-Komski
Watercolors, cardboard, 50 x 35,5 cm, USA 1970-80. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Marching out to Abbruch
Author: Wincenty Gawron
Pencil, paper, 24 x 32,3 cm, KL Auschwitz 1942. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Mother’s tragedy
Author: Jan BaraÅ›-Komski
Small feather, Indian ink, cardboard, 19,8 x 26,3 cm, Germany 1945. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
River Soła regulation I
Author: WÅ‚odzimierz Siwierski
Pencil, paper, 14,4 x 9,3 cm, KL Auschwitz 1940. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Phantoms are back
Author: Czesław Lenczowski
Oil painting, canvas, 68 x 86 cm, Stary SÄ…cz 1942. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Driller
Author: Adam Grochowski
Watercolors, paper, 27,5 x 19 cm, KL Mauthausen-Gusen 1944. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Roll-call 1941/1942
Author: Wincenty Gawron
Oil painting, plywood, 87 x 105 cm, USA 1964. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Collecting spilled soup
Author: Władysław Siwek
Watercolor, paper, 70 x 99 cm, Oświęcim 1950. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Loading sick people on car
Author: Jerzy Potrzebowski
Watercolour, paper, 89 x 124 cm, Oświęcim 1950. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Awaiting Transportation to a Gas Chamber
Author: Jerzy Potrzebowski
Watercolor, paper, 89 x 121 cm, Oświęcim 1950. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
50 Haunting Paintings and Drawings by the Prisoners of Auschwitz
Sick prisoner
Author: Mieczysław Kościelniak
Watercolors, cardboard, 48 x 39 cm, Warsaw 1947. Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

 

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

US Holocaust Memorial Museum – Wannsee Conference And The “Final Solution”

History Channel – Nazi Officials Discuss “Final Solution” At The Wannsee Conference

US Holocaust Memorial Museum – Einsatzgruppen Death Squads

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU – The Extermination Procedure In The Gas Chambers

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU – Daily Life at Auschwitz Concentration Camp

The Holocaust – Life In Auschwitz

History Collection – Notes from Hell: Auschwitz Inmate’s Hidden Testimony Finally Revealed in Messages Left Behind

History Channel – Horrors of Auschwitz: The Numbers Behind WWII’s Deadliest Concentration Camp

National Geographic Channel – The First Official Jewish Transport To Auschwitz Brought 999 Young Women

The Conversation – Auschwitz: Women Used Different Survival And Sabotage Strategies Than Men At Nazi Death Camp

Associate Press – Plaques Changed at Auschwitz-Birkenau

BBC News – ‘I Was 90% Dead’: Henri’s Story Of Surviving Auschwitz

The Guardian – Auschwitz: A Short History Of The Largest Mass Murder Site In Human History

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU – Prisoner Numbers

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU – The Number Of Victims

Smithsonian Magazine – What Happened After the Liberation of Auschwitz

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