Scrapbookpages Blog

October 5, 2010

Identifying photos of Elie Wiesel

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:59 am

This morning I asked a question in a comment on my post of September 13, 2010 which you can read here.  I asked how Elie Wiesel was identified in the photo taken at the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 27, 1945, which shows a column of boys walking out of the camp.  I did a little searching on the web and now I am able to answer the question myself.

On the web site of Kenneth Waltzer (which has since been deleted) I read this on the caption of the photo of the marching boys:

Elie Wiesel is fourth on the left, in front of the tall youth with beret.
Picture courtesy of the late Jack (Yakov) Werber, Great Neck, New York.

Young boys marching out of the Buchenwald camp

Young boys marching out of the Buchenwald camp

The photo above shows a group of orphan boys who survived the Buchenwald concentration camp.  I always thought that Elie Wiesel was the tall boy wearing a beret, but not according to Jack Werber.

I googled Jack Werber and found his obituary here.

This quote is from the obituary:

A photograph, now infamous, emerged after the war, Professor Helmreich pointed out. It shows three prisoners at Buchenwald. Two are hanging by ropes tied to their hands behind their backs, suspended from a tree. A third prisoner is on the ground. It is Mr. Werber, the professor said, “an officer standing over him with stick under his arm, looking down, a foot jutting into him.”

In 1996, with William Helmreich, director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College, Mr. Werber wrote “Saving Children: Diary of a Buchenwald Survivor and Rescuer” (Transaction Books). In it, he wrote, “Suffering a great personal loss drove me in my obsession to save children.”

So Jack Werber is the man on the ground in this “infamous photo” shown below?

Photo taken inside Dachau Museum in 2001

I took the photo above in the Dachau Museum in 2001.  When I returned to the Museum in 2003, this photo was no longer there. For years, Holocaust deniers had called this photo a fake.  It was finally admitted that this photograph shows a scene that was created in 1958 for an East German DEFA film.

(Source: H. Obenaus, “Das Foto vom Baumhängen: Ein Bild geht um die Welt,” in Stiftung Topographie des Terrors Berlin (ed.), Gedenkstätten-Rundbrief no. 68, Berlin, October 1995, pp. 3-8)

So Jack Werber posed for a scene in a 1958 propaganda film? If the identification of Elie Wiesel in a photo at Buchenwald was found in the book by the late Jack Werber, I wouldn’t trust the identification since Werber obviously lied to Helmreich about the fake photo above.