The Identification – a drawing by Jan Komski

The Identification

Women are tattooed soon after arrival. This was a shocking greeting for new arrivals. This number was more important than a family name. “.Auschwitz was the only [camp] to tattoo prisoners for identification. The underlying cause was the high death rate among prisoners, which sometimes surpassed several hundred a day. With such a large number of deaths, there were difficulties in identifying all the corpses. If the clothes with the camp number were removed from the corpse, one could no longer establish what the number of the deceased had been.“* Tattooing was done by puncturing the skin on the left forearm with individual needles and rubbing indelible ink into the bleeding wounds.

*Iwaszko, Taduesz. 1996. “Deportation to the Camp and Registration of Prisoners” In Auschwitz: Nazi Death Camp, by Danuta Czech, Tadeusz Iwaszko, Barbara Jarosz, Helena Kubica, Aleksander Lasik, Franciszek Piper, Kazimierz Smolen, Irena Strzelecka, Andrzej Strzelecki, Henryk Swiebocki. Oswiecim: The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim. pp 60, 61.

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All art in this exhibit is copyright © Jan Komski. All rights reserved.