Auschwitz in culture

The image of the camp tragedy had its mark on culture as well. Memories recorded on
written pages, in diaries and reports, photos or videos help to visualize at least a part of the
hell of Auschwitz-Birkenau. These memories, more or less accurate, are a lesson for the
future, but also a testimony to the everyday heroism and steadfastness of the prisoners.

Auschwitz in cinematography

„The Master” is the work of the Polish director Maciej Barczewski, telling the story of the
camp life of Tadeusz „Teddy” Pietrzykowski, one of the most famous athletes in Auschwitz.
Pietrzykowski took part in boxing fights to the delight and entertainment of the SS men.
Taking into account the hunger rations and exhausting work, the fight in the ring was quite a
feat.
„Two Crowns” is a film about the Polish monk Maksymilian Maria Kolbe, a prisoner who gave
his life for Franciszek Gajowniczek. Kolbe asked the German SS man to follow Gajowniczek,
thus condemning himself to death by starvation. Eventually, he was quenched with an
injection of phenol.
Right after the liberation of the camp, the Soviets recorded a document entitled „Chronicles
of the Liberation of the Camp”, showing what they found after entering the extermination
area. The film can be watched at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Auschwitz in literature

Recently, books about characteristic people in KL Auschwitz have become very popular. One
of them is the „Tattoo artist from Auschwitz”. The book is a memoir of the eponymous tattoo
artist Lale Sokolov, the man who marked thousands of other people with a tattoo for life.
Another noteworthy item is „Midwife. About my aunt Stanisława Leszczyńska”. It’s a story of
a woman who delivered birth and helped mothers and new-borns who were born in camp
conditions. The book is biographical and is created by a person close to the title character.
However, with books written over time, there is one problem: they may contain a dose of
literary fiction and may not be such an accurate representation of what happened during the
camp times.
Therefore, it is also worth considering works written during or just after leaving the camp.
Witold Pilecki’s „Reports W” was created during his stay in Auschwitz and written down
shortly after his successful escape from the camp hell.
Another work is essayed by Tadeusz Borowski, a Polish writer who survived Auschwitz. In
his works, he described camp days, sending people to mass executions, but also other
activities, such as building a football pitch.

Auschwitz in other works of culture

Of course, apart from movies and books, other materials are documenting what happened in
the camp. These are sculptures and paintings created by prisoners. One cannot but mention
the probably only camp photograph, that is Wilhelm Brasse. A prisoner with number 3444,
commissioned by the SS, made photographic documentation of what was happening in the
camp. His photos were evidence of many post-war trials of KL Auschwitz personnel. Both a
film and a book were made about Wilhelm himself.

Although the memories contained in all the works are undoubtedly painful and tragic, they
constitute a necessary testimony for future generations to what war can lead to.

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