The Auschwitz Memorial Museum has published a collection of death camp sketches by a mystery inmate of Birkenau that was found stuffed in a bottle. The chilling pencil sketches of the camp, by a prisoner who signed them "MM," show children being torn from the arms of their parents, and a guard smoking a cigarette as gas chamber bodies are loaded onto a truck, reports Der Spiegel. "These sketches are the only work of art made in Birkenau that depict exterminations," said a museum spokesman. The sketches, made in 1943, were discovered four years later near the camp's crematorium by a former prisoner working as a watchman at the site.
The artist intended the 32 sketches as a kind of documentary record, said museum officials. Truck and car license plates, badges of prisoners, guard insignias, and signs are all clearly depicted. "The author of the sketchbook hoped that someone would find his work so that it would become a witness to extermination," said an art historian. The images were published to mark this year's 70th anniversary of the beginning of gassings at Birkenau. (Read more Birkenau stories.)