Scrapbookpages Blog

May 10, 2015

Margaret Bourke-White’s famous photo of Buchenwald prisoners

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 6:23 pm
Famous photo of Buchenwald survivors was taken by Margaret Bourk-White

Famous photo of Buchenwald survivors taken by Margaret Bourke-White

A recent news article, which you can read in full here, included the photo shown above with a credit given to Time and Life Pictures/Getty Image. This photo was taken by the well known photographer Margaret Bourke-White, who was famous for posing her pictures, and passing them off as candid photos.

The description of this photo, in the news article is this:

“Emaciated male prisoners, victims of Nazi genocide, staring through barbed wire fence at their liberators after American forces overran the Buchenwald concentration camp”

The men in the photo are far from being “victims of Nazi genocide.” If they had been genocided, they would have been dead at the time that the prisoners liberated themselves before the American soldiers  arrived.

The photo above, taken by Margaret Burke-White, on April 15, 1945, after the liberation of Buchenwald, shows a group of unsmiling male inmates, who were privileged Communist political prisoners, lined up in front of a barbed wire fence in the camp.

In the center of the photo is a dapper-looking gentleman with a neatly trimmed moustache and short beard; he is wearing freshly-laundered striped prison pants, and what looks like a new wool overcoat.

His expression is one of disdain, as though he can’t wait for the picture taking to end, and the cigarettes and chocolate bars to be handed out. The rest of the prisoners in the picture, all of them clean shaven, including one elderly gentleman leaning on a cane, are looking at the camera as though they are puzzled by the sight of this self-assured American woman, dressed in full Army regalia, who is standing behind a camera set upon a tripod, and holding a flash fill-light attached to the camera.

Margaret Bourke-White, America’s most famous photographer, had been traveling with the Third Army and had accompanied the American soldiers when they crossed the Rhine. She had arrived at Buchenwald on April 15, 1945, along with General George S. Patton. This was four days after the prisoners had liberated themselves on April 11, 1945.

Margaret Bourke-White, famous Life photographer

Margaret Bourke-White, famous Life photographer

Margaret Bourke-White using a light meter  to get the right exposure for a photo of the dead prisoners at Buchenwald

Margaret Bourke-White using a light meter to get the right exposure for a photo of the dead prisoners at Buchenwald


  1. My question has nothing to with the picture,but some of her other work. I wanted to know more about this lady’s work. I ran across a picture of hers . It was taken 1945. In the picture you see some bozo crying a damn river,because his dead friend lay at his feet. The description said the jew was trying to escape. Attempt status was clearly a failure for this idiot. You mentioned she ,” staged photographs”. I’m not saying this actually happened or not. The photo brings 2 words to mind for me. I’ve seen where you disect a photograph. So I figured I’ll go that route. I’m sure you and some of your other readers can pick out more “goofs” in the photo than me. I hit upon the stuff you and your readers would get right away. On his right hand is what seems to be a ring. I say that because of the way it sits on the finger (it also has a nice little shine to it). The boots this joker has on,are in pretty good shape. I’ve only got that one view so I can’t say that they are 100%. Look at the back of his neck. Looks like he gets regular haircuts. The description of the photo said the person crying is a “polish concentration camp survivor”. The idiot is crying because the corpse on the ground is a friend who is now a crispy critter. The description went on to say ,”he was burned to death by flamethrowers while trying to escape.”. Flamethrowers? It took more than one to drop this fool? I looked at the fence posts in the pic. Where’s the burn marks? For a guy that got nailed by more than one flamethrower,he’s in damned good shape. Look at the ground. Nothing’s burned. I’ve only got this one photo. If I try to zoom on it,the thing becomes grainy. My biggest question here is ,” what are the odds?” She rolls up with our boys. Out of everything going on there,she sees a “Kodak moment”. I spent an hour looking to see how Germany used flamethrowers In WW2. The only thing I found that comes close to this,is when the Krauts used flamethrowers to clear the ghetto (I don’t know how much truth there is to that). The only other thing that surfaced,was this lady’s picture. No accounting of how the picture came about. Hey. There’s a blog called “static photography”. The picture in this certain article on that site,is the same pic that’s here. I left a comment saying it was BS. My comment will probably be deleted.

    Comment by Tim — May 11, 2015 @ 6:30 am

    • Years ago, I wrote a blog post about press photographers. I know about this because I used to be a press photographer many years ago.

      Back then, a big part of photography was dodging and burning in the darkroom to improve your photos. It was also common to paint out something in a photo, then take a photo of the changed picture and pass it off as a real photo. You could also add something to a photo and then take a photo of your revised photo and pass it off as a real photo. That’s why you have to examine World War II photos carefully.

      Margaret Bourke-White used a Rolleiflex camera which took 12 shots on a roll of film. She did not take candid shots. She posed her pictures and did not use natural light. She changed her real name to disguise the fact that she was Jewish.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 11, 2015 @ 8:34 am

      • She was part Heb? I figure she would want that fact known. She could play the sympathy card big time. All she’d have to do is tell people,”yes,I’m Jewish. It hurt having to photograph these horrible sights,but I had to put my emotions to the side. I had to document the horror so the world would know what happened”. She tells people she’s a jew along with the kind of statement that I wrote above and she’s gonna have the world following her. I read some of the life or death scenarios she found herself in. After Reading some of those situations she was in,she sounded just like that Ross fella (AKA super jew). I guess she’s the female version of super jew.

        Comment by tim — May 11, 2015 @ 10:35 am

        • Her father was Jewish, but her mother was Catholic. Her father’s last name was White — the English word for Weiss. Margaret changed her name to Bourke-White because she wanted to pretend that she was more upper class than she really was. Her father was not a practicing Jew and her mother was not a practicing Catholic. They were both members of some weird religion. Back then, Jews did not want to advertise that they were Jewish.

          Comment by furtherglory — May 11, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

          • “Weird religion”. I’ll take that to be paganism. Okay when I went to gather ( as Paul Harvey would say,”the rest of the story”) information about the photographer,as usual I got sidetracked. I told you about the pic she took of the jew crying over his “well done” friend. The photo said the guy was trying to go over the wall. So the guard lit him up with a flamethrower. I figure that’s a lot of trouble to through,just to neutralize one person. I tried finding an accounting of it on the Internet. No luck. The only thing I ran across in relation to the Krauts using flamethrowers on unarmed people was when they had the revolt at the ghetto. I ran across another story. This guys name was Josef Blosche. It his nickname was “Frankenstein”. Said the man was a mass rapist. He lived in east Germany after the war. All the way up to ’69,he was doing his own thing. The Ruskies finally nailed him,because the KGB ( I guess that’s who nailed these people in east Germany ) nailed a buddy of his. To save his own skin he ratted out Josef. All the way up to 1969,he was able blend in. The reason for this had something to do with “extensive scaring ” on his face. This man was SS. SS men have SS tattooed on the underside of their arm,correct? The way the KGB were,they’d crawl up your arse with a magnifying glass. All this time they didn’t know the first thing about this guy? I read an article. It said he was responsible for helping deport 300,000 Jews ( funny thing about that number. Everything I’ve read about people that get charged with helping to deport,the number is always 300,000). They also said he killed pregnant women and murdered newborns. Reasoning behind this they said was because himmler ordered it. It went on to say,” I don’t want the babies growing up and taking revenge on our grandchildren. If you’re bumping off every jew out there (pregnant or not),why would you need to explain yourself to anyone? You said 6 or 7 pregnant women showed up at the camp and dropped the kids pretty much when they got there. One gal said something about mengle squeezing Her nipple to see if milk came out . She mentioned something about sucking her gut in so he couldn’t tell she was pregnant. She’s damn near ready to pop,yet she’s able to suck her gut in. Beatings,long work hours ,starvation to name a few. Here’s my question. In that type of setting,who’s gonna wanna get laid? Supposedly each day could be your last. A person is gonna be thinking about sex? The pregnancy/new born issue is confusing. Himmler wants the pregnant women and infants knocked for fear of what they might do when they reach adulthood. Next page these women roll up at the camp and drop their kids. Funny thing there,everyone looked to be in great shape. If life at their prior location was hell,I would expect 1 or 2 kids to be still born. The ones that did make it into the world, are gonna be f**ked up worse than a football bat. The mothers looked like they just had a makeover done. Judas H Priest! They were passing that photo around back then for the world to see the “miracle” that took place. None of this makes sense. Too many contradictions.

            Comment by Tim — May 11, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

            • The man that you wrote about, who was allegedly a mass rapist, was Josef Blösche. He is the soldier in the famous photo of the “little boy with his hands in the air.” I wrote about him in this blog post:


              In the blog post, cited above, I included the famous photo of him holding a gun on a little boy.

              Wikipedia says this: “Blösche became known to the world as a symbol of the Nazi cruelty inflicted on people within the Warsaw ghetto because of a famous photograph taken during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which portrays a surrendering little boy in the foreground, and Blösche as the SS soldier who is facing the boy with an MP18 sub-machine gun in hand.”

              In the photo, Blösche looks like a harmless fellow who is just doing his duty as a soldier. He was put on trial in East Germany, many years after the war. He was convicted of committing an ex-post-facto war crime and executed. It was the Russians, who were mass rapists, not the Germans.

              Comment by furtherglory — May 12, 2015 @ 6:26 am

              • I kinda figured it was BS. I took them over 20 years to put a case on him. Far as I’m concerned,flying below the radar is something you can’t do with the KGB. If they wanted proof he was SS,look for his SS tattoo. I agree. The Ruskies are the rapist. Maybe they think they put a case on this guy,all the transgressions that reside with them,will vanish. History will be none the wiser. I saw the picture of the little boy on the cover of a book. To me it don’t look like he’s pointing at the lil bastard. True I’ve only got the one picture,which leaves me with only one angle. The eye sockets have to much shading in them to make a conclusive guess as to the direction his eyes are looking. It looks like his head is facing more to the left. Other than that being a good photo op,I don’t see what that brat or Josef have dick to do with anything. The picture was taken in Warsaw when they decided to revolt,correct? If that’s the case,then why are some of the people walking out with their property? If I’m wanting to secure the area and get people out,I’d be telling them your stuff stays here. Clearly this was a highly fluid situation ( or labeled as such). If that’s the case,why does Josef looked relaxed. The way he’s holding his gun. When we’d go out on patrol,I never carried my gun that way. Our Sgt. gave us a variation of Murphy’s law. Expect the unexpected. Wether it was us with thought VC could pop up out of a spider hole or one of these SS men in an unpredictable situation where eviction is going on,you ain’t gonna be relaxed. You’re the one that said take pics from WW2 with the proverbial,”grain of salt” . Another thing I noticed. Why are Jews always surfacing and saying,”hey that’s me in that picture”? The Rugrat with his hands is supposed to be a HEB Dr. He’s supposed to be an ENT dr. One of the best ones. I don’t remember his first or last name. I do remember his first name was 4 letters long and it had a “V” in it. It was not an English name. However this joker was claiming to be the kid in the photo

                Comment by Tim — May 12, 2015 @ 8:08 am

  2. Pictures never lie and the media use the same tricks today. When the media label the picture above as starving prisoners you see starving prisoners. When the media label families having a picnic as being on there way to the gas chamber you see that. Today in the media we have pictures of thousands of “poor Syrian refugees ” crossing over from Libya who must be housed in Salzburg and Berlin but then when you look at the pictures you see thousands of black African men .

    Comment by peter — May 11, 2015 @ 2:58 am

  3. In his book Kogon states that the SS informed the LAGERAELTESTER – Elder of Camp that Buchenwald would be hande out to Allied Forces. So at a certain moment thel last SS guards left toward a nearby forest and prisonier were free. No mention of any battetle or other action “to free themselves”. Clearly the LAGERSCHUTZ – Order Service had to care about order among the prisioniers. That for historical truth.

    Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — May 11, 2015 @ 12:14 am

    • Dr. Murmelstein
      The Austrian Eugen Kogon succeeded to escape out of the camp, and fled to Weimar from where he sent a fictitious letter to Commandant Pister. [Knowing the SS mentality from my own experience, I am quoting Kogon’s letter which sounds rather childish and naive here in the German language, which he signed as Major Mc Leod . I do not think it had any effect what-so-ever to what followed after. You are fluent in German and are able to understand it’s contents]

      Transporte verlassen Buchenwald. Es sind Todestransporte-wie der von Ohrdorf!
      Die grauenhafte Tragödie von Ohrdorf darf sich nicht wiederholen.
      Aus der Luft zu Spezialaufträgen abgesetzt haben wir auf weiten Strecken die Opfer
      der Begleitmannschaft und einer aufgehetzten Bevölkerung mit eignen Augen festgestellt.
      Wehe Thüringen und wehe den Verantwortlichen in Buchenwald, wenn sich das wiederholt!
      Es würde die Zeit des Greuelkommandanten Koch, der den Namen dieses Lagers zum
      Abscheu der ganzen zivilierten Welt gemacht hat, erneuern.
      Vieles hat sich unter Ihrem Regime gebessert. Wir wissen das.
      Sie mögen heute -wie das ganze Land- in Schwierigkeiten sein,
      aus denen Sie keinen anderen Ausweg sehen, als Tausende auf den Weg
      zu schicken. Schluß damit! Sofortigen Schluß!
      Unsere Panzerkommandanten kommen jetzt, um ihre Rechnung aufzumachen.
      Sie haben noch eine Chance.
      James Mc Leod
      War Office, London

      If you wish to follow the actual events try my blog: Dachau KZ blogspot. com: Buchenwald KZ 1937-1945 Part 10

      H.K. Stolpmann

      Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — May 11, 2015 @ 2:42 am

      • Thanks for attention, I knew about this letter. The point is that the INTERNE LAGERLEITUNG – Interior Camp Direction – had to use such means; especially as SS General Wladeck-Pirmont tried to force Piester to increase the death transports. But no – impossible – armed resistance by prisoniers eventually occyred. Not in Buchenwald nor other Camps as in face iìof armed SS men prisioniers were helpless.

        Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — May 12, 2015 @ 1:39 am

        • You must mean Josias Erbprinz zu Waldeck-Pyrmont who was put on trial by the Allies after the war, along with Hermann Pister, who was the Commandant of Buchenwald. I wrote about this trial on my website on this page:

          The following quote is from my website page about the trial.
          Begin quote:
          Beginning on April 11, 1947, thirty-one accused war criminals from the Buchenwald concentration camp were brought before an American Military Tribunal at Dachau. The most important person, among these accused war criminals, was the last Commandant of the camp, Hermann Pister.

          The charge against Hermann Pister was that he had participated in a “common plan” to violate the Laws and Usages of war against the Hague Convention of 1907 and the third Geneva Convention, written in 1929, which pertained to the rights of Prisoners of War.

          On the witness stand, prosecutor Lt. Col. William Denson confronted Pister with his crime of violating The Hague Convention: “You knew that according to The Hague Convention, an occupying power must respect the rights and lives and religious convictions of persons living in the occupied zone, did you not?” Many of the prisoners at Buchenwald were Resistance fighters from the German-occupied countries in Europe who were fighting as illegal combatants in violation of the Geneva Convention.

          To this question, Commandant Pister replied: “First of all, I did not know The Hague Convention. Furthermore, I did not bring these people to Buchenwald.”
          End Quote

          The “common plan” under which these men were put on trial was an ex-post-facto law made up by the Allies. Under the common plan, every German who was alive during World War II was a criminal who should be executed. There was no defense against the “common plan” law, just as there is no defense against a Holocaust denial charge.

          Comment by furtherglory — May 12, 2015 @ 6:40 am

          • Under the rule of common plan or common purpose you are not quite correct to say every German alive during World War II is a criminal who should be executed ….little exaggeration there FG. ! However it wouldn’t surprise me if the ” authorities ” under a certain amount of pressure from ” Jewish organisations” didn’t decide to arbitrarily extend the matter as potential victims are dying off and show trials are falling apart. Expect to see all former members of the Hitler Youth appear before the tribunals in ten years time on charges of ” common purpose”.
            How is Oskar today ? Do you think he was told if he turned up for the first week and sung like a canary they might let him off ??

            Comment by peter — May 12, 2015 @ 8:31 am

  4. In the bottom picture she is not only using a light meter but she has a wire from her running across to the right. This is probably a connection to a large flash unit as used in professional studios. Candid? Think not.

    Comment by Clent — May 11, 2015 @ 12:01 am

  5. Pictures, like the written word, are potent media for deceit.

    Comment by Jett Rucker — May 10, 2015 @ 6:50 pm

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