Yesterday, I blogged about Wilhelm Brasse, a prisoner who was put to work as a photographer in the Auschwitz concentration camp in the 1940s. A reader alerted me to a news article in The Mail Online which tells about Brasse’s work at Auschwitz. This article is an example of Yellow Journalism at it’s best.
For the benefit of readers who are not familiar with the term Yellow Journalism, I am quoting Wikipedia:
Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.
Here is the eye-catching headline in The Mail Online:
The photographer at Auschwitz: Man forced to take chilling images of inmates and their Nazi guards was haunted until his death at 94
The Mail Online illustrated the article with photos taken by Brasse, including the chilling image below.
If you think the image of Maximillian Grabner is chilling, you should see what he really looked like. I consider this to be an excellent portrait of the man. The caption on this photo, in The Mail Online, is this:
“Jailer: SS officer Maximilian Grabner was also captured on film by prisoner Brasse in the photography department at Auschwitz”
Maximillian Grabner was the director of the Political Department in Auschwitz. He was arrested by Dr. Konrad Morgen, an SS Judge, who was assigned to investigate all the Nazis camps for incidents of cruelty or abuse of the prisoners. Grabner had been accused of killing 2,000 prisoners “beyond the general guidelines.” Grabner was put on trial by an SS court in Weimar, Germany but was not convicted. In 1947, Grabner was tried and sentenced to death by the Polish Supreme War Tribunal in Krakow.
This quote from The Mail Online is an example of Yellow Journalism:
One day, a prisoner was sent to him because one of the camp doctors, the infamous Nazi Dr Josef Mengele, wanted a photograph of the man’s unusual tattoo.
He said: ‘It was quite beautiful. It was a tattoo of Adam and Eve standing before the Tree in the Garden of Eden, and it had obviously been done by a skilled artist.’
About an hour after taking the photograph, he learned that the man had been killed. He was called by another prisoner to come to one of the camp crematoria where he saw the dead man had been skinned.
Mr Brasse said: ‘The skin with the tattoo was stretched on a table waiting to be framed for this doctor. It was a horrible, horrible sight.’
Back in the days before Yellow Journalism became the norm in the mainsteam media, a good journalist would have explained that Brasse’s claim of being called by another prisoner to one of the camp crematoria would have been quite unusual since Brasse was working in the main Auschwitz camp, which had only one crematorium. Apparently Brasse was called by another prisoner to come to the Auschwitz II camp which had four crematoria. It would have been very unusual for Brasse to leave his job in the main camp, at the request of another prisoner, to travel 3 kilometers to another camp to take a photo of a dead man who had been skinned for his tattoo. This part of the article reads as if it were written by Holocaust
liar survivor Irene Zisblatt.
This quote is also from The Mail Online:
Mr Brasse and another inmate managed to bury thousands of negatives in the camp’s grounds which were later recovered.
Too bad that Brasse didn’t bury the negative of the man with the tattoo, whom he photographed after he was skinned.
Here is more of the horror printed by The Mail Online:
In February 1941, he was summoned to the camp commander’s office, the notoriously brutal Rudolf Höss, who would later be hanged for his crimes.
Mr Brasse was certain that this was the end but when he arrived he discovered that the SS was looking for photographers.
There followed what must have been a bizarre and terrifying experience. The assembled men were tested on their photographic skills.
Each must have known failure would mean a return to hard labour and death.
He said: ‘We were five people. They went through everything with us – the laboratory skills and the technical ability with a camera. I had the skills as well as being able to speak German, so I was chosen.’
The Nazis wanted documentation of their prisoners. The Reich was obsessed with bureaucratic records and setup ‘Erkennungsdienst,’ the photographic identification unit.
Based in the camp, it included cameramen, darkroom technicians and designers.
I don’t want to say anything about the liberal bias of newspapers today because this would attract hateful comments by readers who disagree with this opinion, so I will just quote Wikipedia on the subject of liberal bias:
Liberal bias in the media occurs when liberal ideas have undue influence on the coverage or selection of news stories.
Conservative critics of the media say some bias exists within a wide variety of media channels including network news shows of CBS, ABC, and NBC, cable channels CNN, MSNBC and Current TV, as well as major newspapers, news-wires, and radio outlets, especially CBS News, Newsweek, and The New York Times.
The Mail Online goes far beyond liberal bias, into the realm of Yellow Journalism.