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Czesława Kwoka, Age 14, Child Victim of Auschwitz, As shown in Her Prisoner ID Photo, 1942

People | June 8, 2017

Czesława Kwoka was born in Wólka Złojecka, a small village in Poland, to a Catholic mother. Along with her mother (prisoner number 26946), Czesława Kwoka (prisoner number 26947) was deported and transported from Zamość, Poland, to Auschwitz, on 13 December 1942.

On 12 March 1943, less than a month after her mother died, Czesława Kwoka died at the age of 14; the circumstances of her death were not recorded. Kwoka was one of the "approximately 230,000 children and young victims aged below eighteen" who were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau from 1940 to 1945.

After her arrival at Auschwitz, Kwoka was photographed for the Reich's concentration camp records. She has been identified as one of about 40,000 to 50,000 subjects of such "identity pictures" taken under duress at Auschwitz-Birkenau by Wilhelm Brasse (prisoner number 3444), a young Polish inmate. Trained as a portrait photographer at his aunt's studio prior to World War II, Brasse and others had been ordered to photograph inmates by their Nazi captors; they were likely to face imminent death if they refused to comply.

These photographs that they were ordered to take capture each inmate "in three poses: from the front and from each side." Though ordered to destroy all photographs and their negatives, Brasse became famous after the war for having helped to rescue some of them from oblivion.

Such acts of courage as Brasse's and his colleagues enabled many like Kwoka not to become forgotten as mere bureaucratic statistics, but to be remembered as individual human beings.

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