Polished Me Like a Jewel

Posted on January 16, 2020 

Text and photography by Emily Faux

Two tonnes of human hair are currently on display at the Auschwitz Museum. Hair was shaved from the corpses of prisoners selected for immediate death in the gas chambers and shaved off prisoners selected for labour as soon as they entered the camp. Following Hitler’s efficient, no-waste policies, the hair was gathered into 20 kg bales and sold to German firms to serve various purposes. Some victims’ hair was used to make ignition mechanisms in bombs, others’ for ropes, cords and mattress stuffing. This was the fate of one and a half million women, men and children over five years in Auschwitz alone. Inspired by my recent visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, I wrote this poem as a fictional account following a young Polish Jew named Anne, whose hair was used to manufacture socks after her age and gender rendered her unsuitable for work and sentenced to immediate death.