Prisoners Who Were Killed in the Holocaust

Gruesome Photos to Make Sure We Never Forget

When the Allies liberated the Nazi concentration camps near the end of World War II, they found dead bodies everywhere. The Nazis, unable to destroy all the evidence of the horrors perpetrated in the concentration camps, left corpses on trains, in barracks, outside, in mass graves, and even in a latrine. These pictures are a witness to the horrors perpetrated during the Holocaust.

Photographs from the end of war show bodies of victims piled up or lying individually as people walk by.

Being Carried in Carts

A picture of a British Army truck transporting corpses to mass graves for burial.
A British Army truck transporting corpses to mass graves for burial. (Bergen-Belsen) (April 28, 1945). Picture from the National Archives, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.
  • A British Army truck carried corpses to a mass graves for burial. (Seen above)
  • A wagon outside the crematorium in Buchenwald was piled full of bodies, with more stacked to the side, intended for burial.
  • Austrian civilians helped load corpses onto a horse-drawn cart to take them to a mass grave.
  • American troops watched a passing cart filled with corpses. Allied officials required local farmers to pull the bodies, uncovered, through the streets in their carts to educate to residents what had happened there.
  • Railway cars were loaded with the corpses of prisoners who died on the way to Dachau from other concentration camps.

Individuals

Jews, on their way out of the city of Kiev to the Babi Yar ravine, pass corpses lying on the street.
Jews, on their way out of the city of Kiev to the Babi Yar ravine, pass corpses lying on the street. (September 29, 1941). Picture from the Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.
  • Jews, on their way out of Kiev to the Babi Yar ravine, pass corpses lying on the street. (Seen above)
  • American soldiers found children among the decomposing bodies in the camps and ordered German civilians to give them a decent burial. In one photograph, an American soldier stands above the bodies of an infant and a young child about to be buried in a mass grave.
  • The corpse of Abraham Borenstein can be seen in the foreground as members of the SS stand in the background. Borenstein was shot to death trying to escape Dachau.

In Piles or Rows

Survivors counting the corpses of prisoners killed in the Mauthausen concentration camp.
Survivors counting the corpses of prisoners killed in the Mauthausen concentration camp. (May 5-10, 1945). Picture from the Pauline M. Bower Collection, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.

Civilians Forced to Witness or Bury

American soldiers force boys believed to be Hitler youth to examine boxcars containing bodies.
American soldiers of the U.S. 7th Army, force boys believed to be Hitler Youth, to examine boxcars containing bodies of prisoners starved to death by the SS. (April 30, 1945). Picture from the National Archives, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.
  • Boys believed to be Hitler Youth were forced to examine boxcars. (Seen left)
  • German civilians from the town of Nordhausen were forced to dig mass graves and bury the corpses of the dead found at concentration camp there. Those still alive were emaciated and were taken to hospitals run by the Allies.
  • German civilians were forced to see the results of crimes committed by the SS in Buchenwald. Color movies show residents being marched past concentration camp survivors, then past piles of corpses as they close-ups of their faces show disgust. Women can be seen holding their noses to guard against the stench, and one runs away crying.
  • In another photograph, Germans are seen being forced to exhume corpses from a mass grave as American troops look on.
  • Likewise, Austrian citizens are forced to remove corpses from the Russian camp section of Mauthausen by American forces.
  • Austrian civilians were forced to dig mass graves for corpses found at the concentration camp at Güsen.

American Officials and Press Visit

Congressman John M. Vorys(right) viewing a room full of corpses while on an inspection of Dachau.
Congressman John M. Vorys(right) viewing a room full of corpses while on an inspection of the Dachau concentration camp. The group of touring congressmen was led by General Wilson B. Parsons who stands to the left in this photograph. (May 3, 1945). Picture from the Marvin Edwards Collection, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.
  • Ohio Congressman John M. Vorys viewed a room full of corpses while on an inspection of Dachau. (Seen left)
  • During a tour of the newly liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and other U.S. Army officers viewed the bodies of prisoners executed as Nazis evacuated the camp.
  • A group of American editors and publishers was shown corpses of prisoners during a tour of the Dachau concentration camp.

Mass Graves

A mass grave in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. (May 1, 1945)
A mass grave in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. (May 1, 1945). Picture from the Arnold Bauer Barach Collection, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.
  • A mass grave in Bergen-Belsen was piled with hundreds of bodies stacked one on top of another. (Seen above)
  • Prisoners' corpses from Nordhausen were lined in a mass grave dug by civilians after the war.
  • Prisoners' bodies were similarly laid out side-by-side in a mass grave in Mauthausen.
  • A German policeman can be seen shooting individual Jewish women who remained alive in a ravine after a mass execution of Jews following an unsuccessful uprising in the Mizocz ghetto.