On the 31st July 1940 a German Army police unit arrived in the Polish town of Olkusz and gathered all the Jewish men over 14 in the town centre for “registration”. They were then subjected to hours of bullying sadism, forced to lie face down in the city square and beaten if they moved. Three men died from the beatings. The event was absolutely unexceptional as regards the treatment of Jews in Poland, these atrocities were all too common. On this occasion however photographs, taken by at least one German present, survive.
It was common practice for German troops to take photographs of all manner of German occupation activities, including the persecution of Jews, and even blatant murderous atrocities. It is known that there was even swapping of ‘atrocity photographs’ between German troops. Obviously not many of these photographs survive. But some do.
These men and their families were doomed, along with nearly three million other Jews in Poland. For the first few years of the war they would suffer arbitrary persecution – punishments, beatings and murders. Then, after having been gathered into ghettoes and starved, the Nazis would organise their mass murder in extermination ‘camps’. Rabbi Moshe Yitzhak Hagermann died in 1942 in Majdanek.
For the full story see Yad Vashem