Brotherhood in suffering
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Brotherhood in Suffering. Brotherhood in Suffering features illustrations of life in concentration camps by Auschwitz survivor Jan Komski. These artworks provide us with documentation of the suffering and death of the innocent Jews, Poles and other victims at the hands of the Nazis.

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Brotherhood in Suffering

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Brotherhood in Suffering

Brotherhood in Suffering features illustrations of life in concentration camps by Auschwitz survivor Jan Komski. These artworks provide us with documentation of the suffering and death of the innocent Jews, Poles and other victims at the hands of the Nazis.

Jan Komski was a Polish Catholic arrested while crossing the border attempting to reach the newly formed Polish Army in France. One of the first prisoners at Auschwitz, he arrived there on June 14, 1940 and given the number 564. In 1942, Komski managed to escape but was later arrested again in the city of Krakow. Komski was lucky not to be recognized and his new identity papers bore a different name. In addition to Auschwitz, Komski was imprisoned in Buchenwald, Hersbruck, Gross-Rosen and Dachau, where he was liberated in 1945.

Brotherhood in SufferingMarch 11th - June 25thOpening: March 16th, 2006

Florida Holocaust Museum

Eating and Starvation

Each prisoner was supposed to receive a daily ration of 350 grams of bread, half a liter of ersatz coffee for breakfast, and one liter of turnip and potato soup for lunch.

Also, four times a week each prisoner was supposed to receive soup with 20 grams of meat. The soup rarely reached the prisoners. Food content ranged from 1,300 calories for light-work prisoners to 1,700 calories for prisoners performing hard labor.

The Kapo made sure that the thicker, more nourishing contents from the bottom of the food barrel, were given to his favorite prisoners. Others had to subsist on the watery substance from the top. Prisoners often had dysentery, and swelling of limbs suffering from a sickness known as starvation disease. The SS and the Capos treated them as if they were healthy and so they had to march to work every morning.

The SS calculated that a prisoner could exist on the daily food ration for about three months. Then he was supposed to die.

Appell (Roll Call)

"At almost each block, beside the men standing in line, bodies of… persons are lying.

These are the victims of the night that have not lived to see the day. Even yesterday they were standing numbers at the roll call and today they lie, lifeless and motionless.

Life is not important at the roll call.

Numbers are important. Numbers tally. How horribly they are looking, as if returned from the war.

These are the marks of yesterday's work."

Salmen Gradowski (1973). in Amidst a Nightmare of Crime. Oswiecim: Auschwitz State Museum Publication.


The prisoners used the 15 minutes of free time before the roll, trying to stay warm.

"Ecce homo“

(Latin: "This is a Man")

This man is being released from the camp hospital.

He is considered fit to work.


Scraping the bottom of the pot.

Fill me, the Hole.


People being arrested in a Polish town.

Children are also the enemies of the Third Reich.

Murder by The SS

The Black Wall, in the courtyard of Block 11, where many innocent people were shot at the base of the neck.

About 20,000 people were executed here between 1940 and 1944.

The officer in the picture is Lagerführer Altmeier, the camp's chief officer at the time of Komski's escape. The man doing the shooting is Rapportfürher Gerhard Palitsch. He himself shot most of the 20,000 men, women, and children murdered at this wall.

Looking for scraps

Food line in the main camp (Auschwitz I).

Administrative Punishment

When something unauthorized was found on a prisoner, like an extra piece of bread, he was subjected to this punishment. Komski himself hung like this an hour a day for three consecutive days, because he brought food and medicine back to the camp after a day at work.

Hanging and Eating

This is what starvation can do to good people. Constantly surrounded by death and suffering, they have grown accustomed to sights like this. The hanging body of a fellow inmate will not deter them from their meager ration.

(Painting in Auschwitz Museum)

The Death Brigade

These men were assigned the job of collecting the dead each day and taking them to the crematorium. They were called the Leichenkommando, literal translation: corpse squad.

An SS Christmas Tree Ornament

Big escape

Photo taken an hour after Komski's arrival in Andrzej Harat'shouse after his escape from Auschwitz.From left: Mieczyslaw Januszewski,

Jan Komski(standing),

Otto Küsel, Boleslaw Kuczbara, Andrzej Harat and his daughter Wladyslawa Harat.


A photo for the album

Canada kommando

Panorama of Birkenau

The identification

The loser



Roll call

No escape no choice

Jobs for men in women’s camp


Horse stable barac


The arrival


After the war, Mr. Komski immigrated to the USA, became a US citizen, and worked for the Washington post as an illustrator for many years. At 86, he is painting every day and, weather permitting, walks every day as well. Mr. Komski passed away in 2002, at the age of 87. Till his last days, he remained alert, lively, very courteous and caring of others.

Created by Agi In memoriam

April 2006

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