“A MILESTONE IN THE VISUAL HISTORY OF THE 20TH CENTURY”: FIRST EDITION OF NAZI HEL, WITH 28 PHOTOGRAVURES
POLL, Willem van de. Nazi Hel. Amsterdam: Van Holkema & Warendorf, circa 1945. Oblong quarto, original stiff black and white paper boards, spiral bound as issued. $950.
First edition of this important Dutch photobook with 28 photogravure images of Nazi death camps and their terrible legacy, including an image of the vicious commandant of Bergen Belsen—the notorious “Beast of Belsen”—and a picture of a young Elie Wiesel in the barracks of Buchenwald.
With the liberation of the Nazi death camps in early 1945, Allied photographers such as Margaret Bourke-White, Lee Miller and George Rodger, as well as dedicated military photographers and ordinary soldiers, turned their cameras on the horrors found there. By publishing these terrible images, the Allies sought “to show civilians what they had been fighting against… These photographs are unquestionably a milestone in the visual history of the 20th century. In 1945 the picture industry came face to face with the industry of death… they vividly color our perception and memory of the past” (Lenman, 287). This extraordinary Dutch photobook, Nazi Hel, is a striking example of that important photographic record. Within are images of death camps such as Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and Dachau, along with those of prisoner-of-war camps and an image of the notorious commandant of Bergen-Belsen, Josef Kramer, who was ultimately convicted of war crimes and hanged in Hameln prison. Of particular note in this collection of 28 black-and-white photogravures is a picture taken in April 1945, which shows camp prisoner Elie Wiesel in the barracks of Buchenwald (plate 5). Uncredited photographs attributed to Dutch photographer Willem van de Poll and to soldiers in SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force). With full-page map. Cover design by Mohr. Text in Dutch. As issued without dust jacket. Auer, 311.
Plates and text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, mild soiling, edge-wear to fragile boards. A scarce near-fine copy.