Rosanna Weaver is programme manager for executive compensation As You Sow.
Her face looks at the camera in a way that is totally different to how teenagers take selfies now. There’s no elaborate expression, but there is, for some reason, a hint of a smile. Maybe the instinct to smile when a camera is pointed overcomes her in the moment.
But this is not a sharable moment. Her name is Czesława Kwoka, and her photograph has been colorized, but even in the black and white original the uniform of Auschwitz-Birkenau is unmistakable.
The colorization is by Brazilian artist Marina Amaral, and it brings to life a young person who died many years ago. Her face stares out at us across the decades. In one photograph, she wears her camp-issued headscarf and looks up and to the side. She is pretty, but she is thin. Her hair is roughly cut short. Her lip is cut. The photographer who takes her pictures later testifies that she has just been beaten by a guard. Later, when he is ordered to destroy them, The photographer risks his life to save some of the pictures, including those of Czesława.
She is deported to Auschwitz, along with her mother in 1942. It’s not clear why, her family is Catholic, not Jewish, but her uniform has a red triangle alongside her prisoner number, that means political enemy, so it’s possible that someone in her family is in some organization that the Nazis dislike.
She’d be 92 now if she had survived. She might still be alive, lots of people live to be 92 or older.
But she does not survive. All that remain of her are those three photographs, now colorized, staring out from our new technology, and our wondering of what she might make of this new world.
She arrives in Auschwitz in December 1942. Some weeks later, in February 1943, someone decides that her life isn’t worth her reaching 92, or reaching one more day. They inject phenol, a poisonous acid, into her heart.
She is 14 years old.