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SA Air Force ‘discovered’ Auschwitz, took 1st pics




Mosquito XVI aircraft of No 60 Squadron South African Air Force operating from Foggia Airfield Complex in southern Italy in 1944 were tasked with carrying out detailed and large-scale photographic surveys of German-held areas, eventually ranging over the Alps and deep into Germany and German occupied territory.

During one such mission, in Spring 1944, one of 60 Squadron’s planes – piloted by Lt CHH Barry and his navigator Lt I McIntyre  – photographed Auschwitz. This was quite by mistake as their mission was to photograph the rubber refinery plant next to the camp.

Auschwitz SAAF

RIGHT: Little- known historic fact: A South African Air Force reconnaissance aircraft which first discovered and then photographed Auschwitz extermination camp. This is one of the aerial photos


When the photos were analysed, they found rows of people lining up in the camp. The photos also showed chimneys and all the other characteristics of a camp for prisoners. This, with other intelligence, brought them to the conclusions that extermination camps existed.

This image is an enlargement of part of a photo of Auschwitz-Birkenau taken by the SAAF on Sortie no. 60PR/694.

Clearly seen on this image is the selection process of a recently arrived transport visible on the ramp has been completed, and those selected to die are being taken to Crematorium II.

Also visible is a cultivated garden in the courtyard of Crematorium II, the open gate into it, and Crematorium III. The basement undressing rooms and gas chambers of both complexes can also be seen.

This annotated image was released by the US Central Intelligence Agency in 1979.

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