Documenting the Holocaust

This is a guest post from Julianna Witt, who is an archival assistant at the Jacob Marcus Rader Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from FSU in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in History and will be attending University of Illinois for a Master’s in Information Science in Fall 2019. Julianna worked on this project while at FSU’s Institute on World War II and the Human Experience.

Buchenwald Survivors Showing their Tattoos
Buchenwald Survivors Showing their Tattoos [original item]

This collection of photographs captures the atrocities American GI’s witnessed when they liberated and toured the various extermination and concentration camps in Europe following the end of World War II. When they discovered these camps, the American military officials ordered all nearby units to visit and tour the complexes. Some of the soldiers had cameras with them and took photographs of what they saw to send back home. While most of the photographs are from ordinary soldiers, some came from licensed military photographers. These photographs were digitized to spread awareness of what happened less than a hundred years ago in a war that many individuals have relatives that participated in. While many individuals have heard of the Holocaust and know the common terms such as “Auschwitz” and “genocide,” not all have seen the graphic photographs. 

      Never Again. One of the most well-known sayings that was created in response to the Holocaust urges humanity to help prevent genocides worldwide by spreading awareness and advocates for action in order to stop mass murder and violence before it erupts. These photographs serve as reminders of what can occur when fascism takes control. While these photographs are very graphic, they need to be available to view. If not, the remaining items are not telling the full story of what happened and thus could spread misinformation of the events. Even today with all the evidence of the Holocaust, there are still Holocaust deniers who wish to prove the Holocaust was just propaganda. The hope of this project is to spread knowledge of what happened and to give many more examples of how this did occur.

You can explore this collection in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. Please be aware this collection does contain very graphic imagery and may not be appropriate for some audiences. You can explore other collections from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at DigiNole here as well.

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