Title: The Auschwitz Photographer
Author: Luca Crippa and Maurizio Onnis
Publication: September 7, 2021
Genre: Memoirs, WWII
SYNOPSIS: (From Amazon)
The Nazis asked him to swear allegiance to Hitler, betraying his country, his friends, and everything he believed in.
Poland, 1939. Professional photographer Wilhelm Brasse is deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and finds himself in a deadly race to survive, assigned to work as the camp’s intake photographer and take “identity pictures” of prisoners as they arrive by the trainload. Brasse soon discovers his photography skills are in demand from Nazi guards as well, who ask him to take personal portraits for them to send to their families and girlfriends. Behind the camera, Brasse is safe from the terrible fate that so many of his fellow prisoners meet. But over the course of five years, the horrifying scenes his lens capture, including inhumane medical “experiments” led by Josef Mengele, change Brasse forever.
Based on the true story of Wilhelm Brasse, The Auschwitz Photographer is a stark black-and-white reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust. This gripping work of World War II narrative nonfiction takes readers behind the barbed wire fences of the world’s most feared concentration camp, bringing Brasse’s story to life as he clicks the shutter button thousands of times before ultimately joining the Resistance, defying the Nazis, and defiantly setting down his camera for good.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Everyone that knows me or has read my reviews should know by this point that I am a WWII junkie. I love devouring books about that time frame, real or fiction. I love learning about that time and the incredible souls that fought against Hitler and his people and survived to tell the tale or just did something amazing that helps the resistance. Their stories should and need to be told. When I saw this book available for review, I knew I had to read it.
The Auschwitz Photographer is told like a fiction story, but the entire thing is real. It is the story of Wilhelm Brasse, a polish political prisoner held at Auschwitz Concentration Camp from 1940-1945. He as Aryan too, but refused to join the German’s, held true to his Polish lineage, and was a prison. Fortunately for him, he had a talent that kept him on the nicer end of things at Auschwitz, which isn’t saying much, but it helped keep him alive to one day return to his family and helped document things we never would have seen had he not. As a photographer, he was recruited to photograph prisons, SS crew, and more.
This story is phenomenal. It’s reads like a historical fiction story, but is true in every way. Luca Crippa and Maurizio Onnis did a phenomenal job of telling Brasse’s story. The details are so disgusting that you feel like you are in the story standing next to the prisoners wondering how people can be treated so terribly. I learned things that happened in Auschwitz that I didn’t know before, and honestly made me so sad. The writing is a well flowing story of strength and perseverance in the worse of times and with the worst of humanity breathing down your throat; a story of heartache and loneliness. It’s always strange reading a story that takes place in a concentration camp because you feel terrible hearing what people went through, but the writers of The Auschwitz Photographer had me cheering on the prisoners, smiling at the small moments of happiness they managed to find, and feeling my own chest ache when something terrible happened to them. I felt everything.
I’ve read some pretty phenomenal stories from this time, but never have I read a book quite like this one. It was so raw and real that you feel everything with them, but it reads as smoothly as a fiction novel someone made up. I’m not sure if that makes me incredibly sad or not, because someone lived this. Someone survived this. And yet I wished I was reading a fiction novel because I don’t want it to be true. I’m glad to have read Wilhelm Brasse’s story. I’m honored to know what he did. Everyone should read this. Everyone should know the atrocities that happened so as not to repeat history. Everyone should know this heroes story. One of the absolute best World War II stories I’ve ever picked up.
STAR RATING: 5/5
Pick up your copy of The Auschwitz Photographer by Luca Crippa and Maurizio Onnis on September 7, 2021 on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or check your local bookstore. You can add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished.