czeslawa kwoka

Czesława Kwoka in 1942, aged 14. 

Czesława Kwoka was born in 1928, and died of unknown causes in 1943 in Auschwitz concentration camp. Wilhelm Brasse took this photo for the Auschwitz records, and when ordered to destroy them, William and others saved some of the photographs.

But until Wilhelm Brasse told me his extraordinary story I had no idea how the photograph came to be taken. His voice trembles as he recounts what happened.

‘She was so young and so terrified. The girl didn’t understand why she was there and she couldn’t understand what was being said to her.

So this woman Kapo (a prisoner overseer) took a stick and beat her about the face. This German woman was just taking out her anger on the girl. Such a beautiful young girl, so innocent. She cried but she could do nothing.’

Before the photograph was taken, the girl dried her tears and the blood from the cut on her lip. 'To tell you the truth, I felt as if I was being hit myself but I couldn’t interfere. It would have been fatal for me. You could never say anything.’