Camp Tattoo Photos

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Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby trevor » 8 years 8 months ago (Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:33 pm)

For Carolyn Yeager.

I am not sure whether you are still looking for the exact position of inmates tattoos but if you do then go to:

http://digitalassets.ushmm.org/photoarc ... talog.aspx
and type TATTOO. You will get several photos.

I just wonder whether these women were previously in Auschwitz or they got tattooed in Mehlteuer:

Jewish women liberated from a factory in Mehlteuer display their tattoos. [Photograph #66201]
to get the photo, type #66201


If you type - "concentration camp" tattoo- into GOOGLE IMAGE, it will also show you some.

It seems they were all on the left arm , on the inside or outside.

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby Veritas » 8 years 8 months ago (Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:20 pm)

Interesting. Somehow I always thought that only inmates in Auschwitz were tattooed, and jewishvirtuallibary.org confirms this notion:
Despite the perception that all Holocaust prisoners were given tattoos, it was only the prisoners of Auschwitz after 1941 who were branded this way.

But according to USHMM there are people with what appear to be tattoos from Buchenwald, Mauthausen and other places.

What strikes me as odd is the irregularity of the tatoos' sizes and locations. Do any original German documents regarding the tattooing of inmates exist? Jewishvirtuallibary.org says:
There exist virtually no official period documents relating to the practice; what we know stems from anecdotal evidence contained in camp records and the accounts of those who were at the camps.

But I do not understand what exactly they mean by "anecdotal evidence contained in camp records", since camp records wouldn't be anecdotal evidence but "official period documents", which they claim do not exist. :?

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby joachim neander » 8 years 8 months ago (Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:11 pm)

@ veritas:

There is no contradiction. Among the concentration camps, it was common practice to shift prisoners from one camp to another. In a study I made over 15 years ago, I calculated that at every moment about 5 per cent of all CC inmates were "on transport." (In this calculation the evacuation transports of 1945 are not included.)

In the summer of 1944, the Germans began to use Jewish labor within the Reich, against a lot of resistance from Sauckel, Hitler's plenipotentiary for work assignment, and Hitler himself. The vast majority did excavating, road and airfield building, clearing streets and factories in bombed cities from rubble, etc.. Only a few Jews were employed in armaments production.

Tens of thousands of registered Auschwitz prisoners (who therefore were tattooed with their prisoner number) , Jews, Poles and others, were transferred to camps such as Buchenwald and from there to sub-camps for forced labor. As of autumn 1944, you will find bearers of tattoos from Auschwitz nearly everywhere in the CCs in the Reich's interior.

Re. "documents": There are "official" documents, e.g. letters from a superior authority, lists made by camp authorities, orders of the day issued by the camp commandant, etc., and others, e.g. notes taken by prisoners and smuggled out, memories of former prisoners, etc.. So the term "document" covers a lot of different things. Historians try avoid this word and prefer "source."

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby Veritas » 8 years 8 months ago (Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:43 pm)

joachim neander wrote:Among the concentration camps, it was common practice to shift prisoners from one camp to another. [...]

In the summer of 1944, the Germans began to use Jewish labor within the Reich [...]. The vast majority did excavating, road and airfield building, clearing streets and factories in bombed cities from rubble, etc.. [...]

Tens of thousands of registered Auschwitz prisoners (who therefore were tattooed with their prisoner number) , Jews, Poles and others, were transferred to camps such as Buchenwald and from there to sub-camps for forced labor. As of autumn 1944, you will find bearers of tattoos from Auschwitz nearly everywhere in the CCs in the Reich's interior.

That means:
1. People were only tattooed at Auschwitz.
2. The purpose of the tattoo was to keep track of them while shifting them around and using them as labour outside of camps.
3. Many did not return to Auschwitz but went to or stayed in other camps. This is the reason people from several camps have tattoos.
But then there still seems to be a contradiction: JewishVirtualLibrary.org claims that tattooing in Auschwitz started in 1941, while you say people were tattooed in 1944 in order to be used as labour somewhere else.
joachim neander wrote:Re. "documents": There are "official" documents, e.g. letters from a superior authority, lists made by camp authorities, orders of the day issued by the camp commandant, etc., and others, e.g. notes taken by prisoners and smuggled out, memories of former prisoners, etc.. So the term "document" covers a lot of different things. Historians try avoid this word and prefer "source."

Well, while the historian might consider "camp records", "anecdotal evidence" etc. as sources, "anecdotal evidence contained in camp records" still seems to be an oxymoron.
In any case, what sources, besides people with tattoos and stories, do you or anybody else have to back up the made claims (esp. that the tattoos were made by orders of the Nationalsocialists)?

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby Balsamo » 8 years 8 months ago (Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:35 pm)

while you say people were tattooed in 1944 in order to be used as labour somewhere else.


No he did not say that,

He said that Tatooed Jews from Auschwitz were more and more sent to other places of War production where they were most needed. And yes, Hitler had to accpet the new reality to let some jewish slave workers back into the Reich.
And that of course, when the camps were evacuated, about 60.000 tatooed inmates were ressetled (not east) but in camps within the Reich.

that the tattoos were made by orders of the Nationalsocialists


The Alternative ? All Auschwitz survivors gathered at a memorial party saying "Wouldn't that be cool to all get a tatoo?" and the crowd said " Oh yeah, bring the needle...let's burn our flesh"...

the Auschwitz complex was by far the biggest of its kind. Even without leaving the camp, tens of thousands of inmates were dispatched each day to one of the many factories nearby. Tatoos were certainly cheaper and more easy to do than issueing a paper ID to all those workers. papers can be lost. tatoos stay on death bodies.
By 44, they were more and more sent where they were most needed, as more and more german workers were incorporated in the Wehrmacht, according to Hitler's directives. Was the order to increase V2 production ? more tanks ? build fortification in the eastern front ? Depending on this decision, they were sent to the appropriate camps.

And yes, indeed, Sauckel did not approved as the Jews were the "properties" of the SS, and thus outside of his juridiction, Hitler neither as it was a retreat of his promise to clean the Reich from the Jews. But the very same reich was struggling for its survival in 44.

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby joachim neander » 8 years 8 months ago (Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:48 am)

Thank you, Balsamo, for answering veritas' questions.

@ veritas: I fully agree with you that "anecdotal evidence contained in camp records" is an oxymoron. But the Jewish virtual library Web site is neither The Gospel, nor a standard reference work.

Re. "orders for tattooing": AFAIK no explicit "order" was given, certainly not from "above," i.e. from the Reichssicherheitshauptamt or the Inspectorate of the Concentration Camps. Camp commandants and their staff had quite a lot of leeway. The orders they received, as a rule, only defined the goal - the means to reach them were at their discretion. Hoess (the commandant of Auschwitz), in his memoirs, frequently mentions that when he complained of something or asked what to do, he received the answer, You are an officer, you have your own brain, help yourself and make a decision. From the beginning, at Auschwitz improvisation was the order of the day. And as Balsamo said, there were many practical reasons for tattooing prisoners with their camp number.

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby Veritas » 8 years 8 months ago (Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:28 pm)

Balsamo wrote:No he did not say that,

Actually that was what he said:
Tens of thousands of registered Auschwitz prisoners (who therefore were tattooed with their prisoner number) , Jews, Poles and others, were transferred to camps such as Buchenwald and from there to sub-camps for forced labor.


Balsamo wrote:He said that Tatooed Jews from Auschwitz were more and more sent to other places of War production where they were most needed. And yes, Hitler had to accpet the new reality to let some jewish slave workers back into the Reich.
And that of course, when the camps were evacuated, about 60.000 tatooed inmates were ressetled (not east) but in camps within the Reich.

Actually he did not mention any numbers but said:
In the summer of 1944, the Germans began to use Jewish labor within the Reich, against a lot of resistance from Sauckel, Hitler's plenipotentiary for work assignment, and Hitler himself.


Balsamo wrote:
that the tattoos were made by orders of the Nationalsocialists

The Alternative ?

How should I know?
People do weird stuff, you know. Some even mutilate the genitals of their male 3 month old infants in order to make them remember every day for the rest of their lifes that they are choosen, just because someone once told them to do so...

Balsamo wrote:All Auschwitz survivors gathered at a memorial party saying "Wouldn't that be cool to all get a tatoo?" and the crowd said " Oh yeah, bring the needle...let's burn our flesh"...

1. Tattoos aren't burned.
2. Do you have any proof that the claimed tattoos are in fact tattoos? Has there ever been a medical examination?
3. If they are in fact tattoos, do you have any proof that they were made by orders of the Germans?

Balsamo wrote:Tatoos were certainly cheaper and more easy to do than issueing a paper ID to all those workers. papers can be lost. tatoos stay on death bodies.

It is certainly easier and quicker to issue an preprinted ID than to tattoo 6 numbers and I also have doubt about tattoos being cheaper. The problem is also that it was not standard and therefore the commanders or whoever rather expect an ID than a tattooed number. Or do you have any proof that a communique was send to inform everybody to accept tattoos as ID? Besides, tattoos are also much easier to fake than official IDs, especially if they are not standarized.

joachim neander wrote:But the Jewish virtual library Web site is neither The Gospel, nor a standard reference work.

And I didn't think it was either of both.

And as Balsamo said, there were many practical reasons for tattooing prisoners with their camp number.

Well, I don't quite agree. The fact that they were neither standarized nor commonly used renders them nearly useless for identification purposes.
It seems they served more practical purpose after the war then during it.

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby Balsamo » 8 years 8 months ago (Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:31 am)

Actually, i put also personnal comments
Sorry to have confused you...

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby Carto's Cutlass Supreme » 8 years 8 months ago (Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:48 am)

I think what makes the tattoo issue so hard to grasp, is that certain groups faked tattoos, and those faked tattoos are mixed in with photos of real tattoos. Psychological warfare capitalized on rumours in concentration camps. Example: "tattooed human skin lampshade" and indeed in one Allied movie, there is a dead man with a giant number on his stomach. Psych warfare must have added that. If Psych Warfare was willing to bring in two shrunken heads into Buchenwald, would they also be willing to pull out a felt pen?

When you see tattoos with 3 inch high letters, that's probably Psych Warfare also. Mauthausen photo #65999 has a guy with a number tattoo on his chest! And photo 66201 has a 4 digit tattoo! of 4706. If you use 4 digits, you have a maximum of 9,999 individual tattoos you can give out. LOL. The film of all the little kids pulling down their sleeves and sticking out their arms is probably Psych Warfare baloney also.

Photo 66201 has a triangle underneath the tattoo number. Either Psych Warfare, (or the individual wanting victim status and compensation) knew that at Buchenwald they did identification with triangles, and though those triangles were on the clothes and were color-coded, this person got it wrong and put a triangle tattoo under his number.

Even when looking at an authoritative site like the USHMM.org, the fake tattoo ratio is 30 percent or so.

Wouldn't you agree Joachim?

Due to Psychological Warfare muddying the waters so bad, it's hard to know the truth about tattoos.

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby joachim neander » 8 years 8 months ago (Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:59 pm)

CCS, there really is a problem with faking tattoos. Some time ago at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum I was told by a high-ranking person that the museum staff is horrified by Israeli tour guides (the Israelis always bring their own tour guides with them) showing the visitors a photo of a woman torso with a tattoo under the breasts "Feldhure" and a 6-digit prisoner number, allegedly from Auschwitz. My interlocutor said it's awful, but we can't do anything against this. (FYI: it is from the novel "House of the Dolls" by Yechiel Ben-Nur aka Kazetnik. Women at Au never had 6-digit prisoner numbers, BTW.)

So I would not exclude that some of the tattoos shown on photos are not original camp tattoos. This does not mean, however, that all tattoos on prisoner forearms are faked (a fallacy I notice, unfortunately, appears quite often in Revisionist argumentation). As it is normal in history, one has to check every source, and a tattoo on a former prisoner's body is a "source" for an historian. Witnesses to tattooing at Au were not only tattooed prisoners who survived, but also surviving Kapos who did the tattooing and not-tattooed survivors (German Aryan prisoners), who saw the tattooing and tattooed fellow prisoners in the camp, and, of course, SS crew. I know well that in Revisionist thinking, eyewitness testimony is "suspect." But let me remember the car accident paradigm: everybody who witnessed it gives a different picture, but that does not mean that the incident did not happen. The same holds for tattooing.

By far not everybody is/was happy with their tattoo after liberation. A good acquaintance of mine, no more alive, a Polish Christian who emigrated after the war to Belgium, in the early 1990s was attacked on the street by a group of youngsters shouting "Jew" at him and beating him. From that moment he never went out with short sleeves, even at 100 degrees in summer.

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby Carto's Cutlass Supreme » 8 years 8 months ago (Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:24 pm)

Thanks Joachim,

What is "Feldhure"? So they show a photo that is actually imitating a tattoo situation in a novel?

What are some things to know that a tattoo is fake?

6 digits on women?

Over, under a certain amount of digits?

tattoos other than on arm?

right arm?

symbols with the number, like a triangle?

giant numbers.

Shouldn't the numbers fit a sequence? I know some begin with A. and know that Neander's pointed that out in another thread somewhere.

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby joachim neander » 8 years 8 months ago (Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:22 am)

"Feldhure" means "field (i.e. Wehrmacht) prostitute."

Auschwitz had four different number series: the "regular" one with numbers from 1 until about 200,000. Gypsies had a different series preceded by a letter "Z" (for "Zigeuner"), but there were also Gypsies with a "regular" number. For Jewish prisoners in the last years the "A" and "B" series were introduced, but some Jews also received a number from the regular series at that time . As I already mentioned, at Auschwitz much was improvised, it was not run as an "orderly" Prussian prison of Kaiser Wilhelm's times.

Re. "faked tattoos": It is difficult to know, especially from a photo, the more if the pic was taken many years after the tattooing. But if you have a tattoo showing a number that was not issued you may be quite sure that something is wrong with it. I am saying this cautiously, because tattooing was done in a hurry (such as everything at Auschwitz had to be done), the prisoners who did it were not trained tattoo-makers, they stitched the numbers free-handedly, and as in writing, "typos" could also occur, e.g. changing the order of digits (in German, you do not say "one hundred thirty five" (1-3-5) but "hundert fünf und dreißig" (1-5-3)), or writing illegible. A "Z" could have looked like a "2", an "A" like a triangle, a "3" like a "5", etc. Historians are very cautious in crying "fake," unless they have not excluded all other options.

The photo the Israeli guides are showing is of dubious origin, maybe from a film or whatsoever, I do not know. The novel I mentioned tells of a brothel allegedly established at Auschwitz for Wehrmacht soldiers with pretty young Jewish girls forced to act as prostitutes there and having their "profession" and prisoner number tattooed under their breasts. It's "holoporn," but was best-selling. You know, Sex&Crime always sells.

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby Carto's Cutlass Supreme » 8 years 8 months ago (Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:45 pm)

Thanks Joachim,

That feldhure story is wild. You should see the movie "defamation" by israeli director Yoav Shamir. He follows Israeli schoolkids to Israel to go to Auschwitz. And the secret service man with the group tells the kids to stay in their hotel rooms due to all the anti-semitism in Poland.

But if you have a tattoo showing a number that was not issued you may be quite sure that something is wrong with it.


But how would you know that it wasn't part of the 1-200,000 series? Can you give an example of a fake tattoo number that you would be able to know was a fake and why? A number that most people would never question? Even here on the forum? Like just some 6 digits of random numbers or something?

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby joachim neander » 8 years 8 months ago (Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:20 pm)

CCS, of course I watched "Defamation," and a colleague even cut out the scenes with the schoolkids for me and burnt it on a separate CD.
Well, the prisoner number shown at the pic of the "Feldhure's" breast has clearly visible 6 digits, but no woman received a 6-digit prisoner number at Auschwitz. So this tattoo must be a fake.

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Re: Camp Tattoo Photos

Postby Veritas » 8 years 8 months ago (Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:19 pm)

Carto's Cutlass Supreme wrote:Due to Psychological Warfare muddying the waters so bad, it's hard to know the truth about tattoos.

This is very much true for the whole "Holocaust".

joachim neander wrote:So I would not exclude that some of the tattoos shown on photos are not original camp tattoos. This does not mean, however, that all tattoos on prisoner forearms are faked (a fallacy I notice, unfortunately, appears quite often in Revisionist argumentation).

Agreed. Though it's an even bigger fallacy to assume that some must be real (meaning real tattoos issued on orders of the Germans) although:
1. There are no camp records, orders or other documentation
2. There is no tattooing equipment.
3. There never was a medical examination that determined that in fact real tattoos of prisoner numbers exist(ed).
3. It is well known that (at least some) tattoes were faked.
4. It is well know that certain groups had an interest in painting the Germans as evil and guilty of whatever one can think of.
5. Even if real tattoos exist(ed), that does not mean at all that they were done on orders of the Germans.
6. The use of tattoos is questionable.

joachim neander wrote:As it is normal in history, one has to check every source, and a tattoo on a former prisoner's body is a "source" for an historian.

Agreed. But a tattoo on a former prisoner's body is for itself only a source or proof of that tattooing happened. It doesn't tell anything about who did or why it was done or if it was on orders etc.

joachim neander wrote:Witnesses to tattooing at Au were not only tattooed prisoners who survived, but also surviving Kapos who did the tattooing and not-tattooed survivors (German Aryan prisoners), who saw the tattooing and tattooed fellow prisoners in the camp, and, of course, SS crew.

I'm sure a lot of tattooing went on, as in all prisons. But even if tattooing of prisoner's numbers was done, it doesn't tell anything about why it was done and on whose order or if there was an order at all.

joachim neander wrote:I know well that in Revisionist thinking, eyewitness testimony is "suspect." But let me remember the car accident paradigm: everybody who witnessed it gives a different picture, but that does not mean that the incident did not happen. The same holds for tattooing.

Well, I don't know about "Revisionist thinking", but in my book eywitness testimony is not evidence but only can be a starting point. It must be supported by the evidence. Using your paradigm: If no car wreck is found, than no amount of eyewitness testimony will prove the accident happened.

joachim neander wrote:By far not everybody is/was happy with their tattoo after liberation. A good acquaintance of mine, no more alive, a Polish Christian who emigrated after the war to Belgium, in the early 1990s was attacked on the street by a group of youngsters shouting "Jew" at him and beating him. From that moment he never went out with short sleeves, even at 100 degrees in summer.

Well, the sad story of an unwilling tattoo victim, for which I have to take your word, does not prove that tattooing in Auschwitz happend on orders of the Germans.

joachim neander wrote:Well, the prisoner number shown at the pic of the "Feldhure's" breast has clearly visible 6 digits, but no woman received a 6-digit prisoner number at Auschwitz. So this tattoo must be a fake.

Funny, now you are committing a similar fallacy of which you accuse others. Because as you pointed out yourself,
joachim neander wrote:[...] because tattooing was done in a hurry (such as everything at Auschwitz had to be done), the prisoners who did it were not trained tattoo-makers, they stitched the numbers free-handedly, and as in writing, "typos" could also occur, e.g. changing the order of digits (in German, you do not say "one hundred thirty five" (1-3-5) but "hundert fünf und dreißig" (1-5-3)), or writing illegible. A "Z" could have looked like a "2", an "A" like a triangle, a "3" like a "5", etc. Historians are very cautious in crying "fake," unless they have not excluded all other options.

Which by the way supports my argument that the tattoos indeed were useless for identification purposes!


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