She died in the Auschwitz extermination camp on February 18…


Don’t you also have the feeling – from time to time – that you know nothing and are saying to yourself: “You know, you do not really know anything about life.” I do. Often. And that is when I am seeing the unimaginable suffering of millions – if it is in a squatter camp on the outskirts of a big city, or rubbish-dump people, or reading about the killing fields of Cambodia or the Japanese atrocities during World War II, or a gang-rape victim, or someone growing up in a situation where his grandmother had to give him sugar water in the evening to try to fool his body that he ate something. Ask Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi about sugar water.

This is a photo of Czeslawa Kwoka a Polish Catholic, a 14-year-old girl, a child. She died in Auschwitz extermination camp on February 18, 1943, with a phenol injection into her heart.

Shortly before the execution, she was photographed by the prisoner Whilem Brasse. Brasse, subsequently went on to testify against Kwoka’s executioner.

The photo is the face of a terrified child, who didn’t even speak the language of her executioners and who lost her mother, just a few days before.

She was one of about 750,000 children and underage that were executed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is such a powerful photograph on so many levels – the eyes are the gateway to the soul.

The photo, originally black and white at Memorial Oświęcim, was coloured by professional photographer Mirek Spznoar who was impressed by Czeslawa’s photo and decided to put it in colour and available for everyone.

Save the picture somewhere – even in your mind if you cannot find another place. Let us, again and again, being sobered by the very fact that we have many things to be thankful for.

Take time to cry with those who cry – but cry with real tears. And be thankful for everything that we can be thankful about.

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About the author

Bennie Mostert
By Bennie Mostert