The photos of prisoners in Auschwitz were mainly taken by Wilhem Brasse (1917-2012), a professional photographer who was prisoner #3444. After he was forced to take black & white portraits of approximately 60,000 inmates, he disobeyed Nazi orders to destroy them all towards the end of World War II. Some of his images were collected for a book, Photographer, 3444: Auschwitz 1940-1945 (Krakow: MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art; Portland: Sussex Academic Press, 2012).
Ten years later, Penguin Books released a derivative trade edition of his work, The Auschwitz Photographer: Based on the true story of Wilhelm Brasse prisoner 3444, for which Luca Crippa and Maurizio Onnis are credited as authors. Brasse’s arresting images have since been colourized by photographers such as Marina Amaral, ostensibly to enhance them and make them more “believable” to younger generations. “When I see a black & white photo,” she says. “I feel that what I am seeing is not real.” Any attempts by “colourizers” to claim ownership of these historical images are specious, particularly when Brasse is not even credited.