About the album

The album Those who survived contains 55 contemporary portraits of concentration camp survivors and fragments of their camp memories. Diverse both in form and content, the memories convey a picture of life in the camps, of death and suffering, but also they tell of mutual help, kindness, and even love.

The photographs and memories are complemented by biographical notes presenting the lives of the protagonists to the present day.

The reader will find here a cross-section of nearly all groups of concentration camp survivors (Jews and Catholics, priests, Jehovah’s Witnesses, communists and Home Army combatants, participants in the war of 1939, men captured during an attempt to get through to the Polish Army in France, Varsovians from the Warsaw Uprising, but also people who found themselves in the camps by pure chance). In the album there are both figures known in public life (such as Władysław Bartoszewski, Arnold Mostowicz or Józef Szajna) as well as ordinary people whose personal experiences are not known to the world.

The authors managed to meet some exceptionally interesting survivors, such as the barber of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoess; the only member of the Sonderkommando now surviving in Poland; a girl saved thanks to “Schindler’s list”; the only survivor in Poland from the Sobibór camp, or Maria Borowska-Bayer, the heroine of Tadeusz Borowski’s Farewell to Maria.


The subject-matter of this book is inevitably gruesome. But in the end it is strangely uplifting. In the nature of things, since the dead don’t talk, the testimonies are those of survivors. But time and again, despite death and destruction wreaked on a vast scale, the reader is convinced that the Nazis did not win. They were defeated by the incalculable resources of the human spirit. 


Norman Davies  (from the Foreword)

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