Database of 10,000 concentration camp guards’ mugshots posted online

Provided they are not dead or unrecognizable due to old age, the names and photographs of almost 10,000 Nazi SS commanders and guards who assisted in the murder of more than one million Jews at Auschwitz have been posted online for the world to see.

The massive searchable database has been uploaded by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (INR) in an effort to invalidate wrong claims that most of the guards were Polish.

SS staff in Bełżec extermination camp
SS staff in Bełżec extermination camp

Many of the 9,686 names are German, and their pre-war jobs are listed as cobblers, teachers, butchers and farmers in addition to other types of vocations.

One year after Hitler’s forces invaded Poland in 1939, construction started on the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in a rural area.

Originally used to imprison Polish political prisoners, the camp was later given over to the infamous SS.  Between 1942 and 1945, approximately 1.1 million Jews died there, either from beatings, starvation or the gas chambers.

Chief of the INR, Jaroslaw Szarek, told the BBC the online archive was a technique to fight lies, adding the publication was not to express an opinion, but the presentation of chilling, hard facts.

At the end of the war former camp commandant, Arthur Liebehenschel, and 33 other senior officers were put on trial in nearby Krakow.  Many were executed by hanging.

However, most of the SS guards, including 200 women, were imprisoned in Russian or Polish prisoner-of-war camps until the 1950’s when they were released and went back to Germany to live in obscurity, Mail Online reported.

In 1963 more than 20 middle- to lower-ranking SS officers were tried for crimes against humanity in Frankfurt, Germany.  Some, such as Wilhelm Boger, the ‘Tiger of Auschwitz,’ received life sentences and died in prison.  Others, like camp dentist Willi Schatz, were exonerated and freed.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE