It took me awhile to recover after seeing this image. A detail from The Auschwitz Album: The Story of a Transport, now on display at the Field Museum in Chicago, it was taken by an SS Officer on the day these individuals disembarked at Auschwitz.
It was taken before they’ve been selected for the “showers” or as laborers; before they’ve been shaved, stripped of their clothing, depersonalized. They look concerned and wholly human. It appears that the gentleman first in line may be trying to reason with the German officer who roughly handles him by the lapel, or at least lighten the moment with a comment or two.
We know, as spectators to their misfortune, that if they are selected as laborers they may hope to live another three months, in the worst possible conditions. And we know, with the luxury of history, that this is just a brief glimpse into a much larger horror that will continue to unfold for some time yet to come.
And it's likely that they know none of the things that we know about this moment in their lives. The whole exhibit is like this: shots horrifying in their mundanity.