Posted on February 6, 2013 at 8:58 am

Cover of survivor’s book features Buchenwald Lie-beration photo without standing man.

By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2013 carolyn yeager

Once again, a helpful commenter on this website has brought us an important discovery. Thanks to Attila Kovacs, I looked up Mel Mermelstein‘s 1979 “survivor memoir” titled By Bread Alone: The Story of A-4685 and discovered just what Kovacs reported — that the Famous Buchenwald Liberation Photo that is on the cover of the book (with Mel’s face circled in red) does not contain the tall standing man. In Kovacs’ words: “What is not shown on the cover photo is the tall man standing on the right leaning on the post. The post is there, but why then not the man standing?” Good question.

Another helpful reader supplied the larger image of the book cover, from Google Images! I confess, I never thought to look there.  Thanks Simon! Now you can even more clearly see the post on the right edge of the picture, with no one standing beside it – just dark, empty space.

Kovacs continues, “On page 208 of the book, the same photo is reproduced, but magically the tall standing man is included in this photo. What the heck is going on?”

What seems to be going on can be explained this way:  Elie Wiesel was not identified in that photograph until the 1980’s.  As I have written elsewhere, it was a decision made to increase Wiesel’s chances for a Nobel Prize. He wanted one, and his supporters began in 1983 to lobby the Nobel committee and plant news stories that he was being considered for either the Peace Prize or the Literature Prize. In 1986, the Peace Prize was awarded to him. The first thing he did as follow-up was to travel to Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Israel to express his appreciation and get photographed in front of a wall-size blow-up of that famous picture.

Why are these dates important?

Mermelstein’s book came out in 1979;  Elie Wiesel was first identified in the photo around 1983, so Mel would not have been aware that one of the men laying just two rows below him was (supposed to be) Elie Wiesel. He would also not remember a man standing naked when the photograph was taken … since there wasn’t one. When he saw this picture for the cover, it would have looked right to him. An editor may have added the pictures inside the book, without realizing the discrepancy with the one on the cover. We have already seen evidence of how most people miss sensing anything wrong when viewing the picture without the standing man.

An alternative explanation could be that the standing man was too dominating in the picture, taking visual attention away from Mel the author, who was way back in the upper bunk, barely visible. If this were true, however, it would verify that there are indeed two versions of the picture known — one with and one without the “naked” man. But also, since it has already been proven that this standing man was added by “photo composite” techniques known at the time, we know that he was not in the original photograph taken on that day.

This image (left) from a story in the New York Times, May 6, 1945 is exactly the same as what is on Mermelstein’s book cover. We can see the post, everything is there except the standing man next to the post. The man has not been ‘removed’ – he was never there. Those who want to argue that he was removed  should provide an explanation of why and how that was done if they want us to believe it.

Does Mermelstein write in his book about meeting Elie Wiesel at Buchenwald?

I can’t find a readable version of the book online, but since Attila Kovacs has a copy we can ask him:  What does Mermelstein say about Elie Wiesel being in the famous photo with him? If he says nothing, that is further proof of Wiesel’s chicanery. In looking at reviews of this book, I don’t see Elie Wiesel’s name anywhere. I am under the impression that the book is more about Mel’s lawsuit against the Institute for Historical Review than about his experience in the camps. So we’ll leave it here for now and see what more Attila Kovacs can tell us.

UPDATE: Feb. 10

For those who want to see a better quality image, this was taken from Winston Smith Ministry of Truth website. He obtained an original NYTimes Magazine from May 6, 1945.  However, the man 2nd from the right in the upper row (to the left of Mermelstein) is not the same face or person as the standing man, as some want to believe.


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17 Comments to Cover of survivor’s book features Buchenwald Lie-beration photo without standing man.

  1. by Robert Schmidt

    On February 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    This is a great find. I revel the day that the “HOLOCAUST” collapses under its own lies, Carolyn .
    Once again I must commend you on your sterling articles. I re-post them all on our Holocaust page on Facebook .


  2. by Carolyn

    On February 8, 2013 at 4:48 am

    Thanks Robert. I hope Attila comes back with some information from the contents of the book. I could order it, but I don’t really want it — I have too many books now, with no place to put them!


  3. by Attila Kovacs

    On February 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I will reread the book and post as to any references, of lack thereof, to Mr. Wiesel. As an aside, I purchased the book because the author came from an area very close to where my father and grandparents lived the time in question.


  4. by Carolyn

    On February 10, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Thanks for getting back, Attila. I look forward to finding out more about the Wiesel question.


  5. by Simon Wiesenthal

    On February 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    That’s a terrible copy of the New York Times photo. Is there not a better version available anywhere?


  6. by Carolyn

    On February 10, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Sure there is, black rabbit. You have provided it at your website:
    It’s certainly nice to have it, but it doesn’t add any more credibility than already existed with the grainy one, imo. I thought it was nailed right from the start, but some people require that a lot of others jump on board before they can be convinced. They are called “Doubting Thomases.” Anyway, good work in getting the original NYTimes magazine. It’s a treasure. Tracking down originals seems to be your strong point.

    BTW, Eric Hunt is jumping to conclusions when he says this man is seen in several other photos from Buchenwald. In the one he specifically points to, it is not the same man. Furtherglory has also made the comparison of the standing man with a bearded man in another liberation photo (which I picked up for my permanent “Famous Buchenwald Photo”page on the menu bar), but I have come to reject that it’s the same man. I have to revise that page, for several reasons, not just that. Eric also thinks Elie Wiesel is really in that photo, as you have believed yourself — don’t know if you still do.

    Thanks for writing, which caused me to go to your website and discover your new work on this subject. I had not seen it until now. Cheers.


  7. by Simon Wiesenthal

    On February 10, 2013 at 5:06 am

    Here’s a bigger photo of Mermelstein’s book.

    The text on the cover is hilariously ironic, considering the photo.

    I can’t quite make out the photo caption, but I’ve ordered a copy of the book, £0.01, which was too expensive for my liking, but hopefully they’ll be some details in there about the taking of the photo.

    Have you read what the supposed leading authority on Auschwitz, Robert Jan van Pelt published in 2012 of this photo?

    “Five days after the liberation of Buchenwald Private Harry Miller of the United States Signal Corps entered block 56. He decided to take a photo showing the many emaciated and naked inmates (inclusive Elie Wiesel) as they were crowded in their bunks. In order to increase dramatic effect, Miller asked one of them to get up, step forward and lean against a post. This inmate was Simon Toncman. This photo appeared in the New York Times in May 6, 1945.”

    Koker, David. Edited by: Van Pelt, Robert Jan. At the Edge of the Abyss: A Concentration Camp Diary, 1943-1944. Everston, IL: Northwestern Uni. Press. 2012. p.328.


  8. by Carolyn

    On February 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Hi Simon, thanks for the large images. I have just replaced the smaller one in the article with what you sent. Yes I’ve read that story about the photographer asking someone from the bunks to step up and pose by the post, and that this Simon Toncman quickly volunteered. Haha, without any clothes on?! I didn’t know it came from Robert Jan van Pelt. It probably didn’t originate with him, but I can’t really say. The “explanations” they come up with are so far-out, but to Jews, anything goes – they expect the stupid goyim will believe it.

    I hope you find some worthwhile data in the book. Let us know if you do.


  9. by Simon Wiesenthal

    On February 10, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Here’s another image, without the white background to the book.

    You can view more on:


  10. by Attila Kovacs

    On February 23, 2013 at 6:02 am

    Here is my rereading of the book. First, I must admit that reading the book the second time was somewhat of a struggle as there were so many confusing items, too many irrelevant, random photos and the quality of the story, in my humble opinion, left a lot to be desired from a strictly literal sense. The author jumps around as to his own identity as a Jew, a Hungarian Jew, a Czechoslovak, a Karpatho-Rus, and as Czech to the point that I was confused as to what his main claim was (nationality, mother tongue, ethnic origin).

    Lajos, his brother, Magda, his sister, and friends Joncsi (probably just a typo as Jancsi is a common Hungarian name), Pista, and Moric are all Hungarian names; in this regard, Etu may be Eti (Etel or Edit or Eta).

    His labor camp documents all say “Ungarn,” which is Hungarian in German. In addition, he refers to his hometown as Munkacs, which is Hungarian. This is telling in that the author did not use the Czech or Slovak spelling of Mukacevo or Mukaceve or the Ukrainian/Russian name of Mukacheve or Mukacheve. Then on p. 17, he calls out to his father as “apu” which is Hungarian for father. As such, one has to assume that his mother tongue used in the home and in Munkacs and in the camps with other Hungarian Jews is Hungarian. In the YouTube videos of life in the 1930’s in Munkacs, the jewish schoolchildren singing, a large town center wedding, and street conversations of the Jews are practically all in Hungarian.

    Since Elie Wiesel’s YouTube video of his returning to his hometown of Sighet (then Hungary and present day Romania) he is speaking Hungarian with the old town folk, it seems that Moric and Elie would have a lot in common and would converse in Hungarian at Buchenwald. The only reference in the book to Elie Wiesel is on page x, prior to the Forward where it recites a statement/quote made by Professor Elie Wiesel of Boston University. So apparently the author knew of Professor Wiesel at the time he wrote the book. There is a mention (on p. 195) of “walked from one barracks (at Buchenwald) to another until I found Elijah, a frail bent youngster from Sighet.” I think there were several other name mentions of Elijah, but nothing other than the name. So if this was indeed Elie Wiesel, one would think that the author would brag about this important Holocaust celebrity or their common roots, or their common experiences in the Munkacs-Sighet Jewish community, or about what they did together in Buchenwald especially with respect to the famous Buchenwald Liberation photo.

    By the way, the liberation photo is only mentioned on p. 223. Less than one solitary page devoted to the cover picture which shows the author in the upper, most distant spot in the photo. Oh, well.

    What is most interesting is the disclaimer on page iv of the book, which I quote: “About the Characters in This Book – Though the characters in this story are real, I felt their names had to be changed to protect their privacy. I have not consulted with any of the survivors mentioned here, because I know how some might feel if the story of their part in the Holocaust were brought to them once again to be dealt with.” Wow! Go figure then: why he would use his own name rather than a fictitious name; not want to fact check with known survivors; be concerned about privacy when others had written their own books (cannot recall how many in the photo have written their own books about Buchenwald and/or Auschwitz, etc. Overall, I am really confused by all this and hope that some of the commentators can help in bringing some clarity to this story. As an aside, am I doing something wrong in that when I type my comments, the screen turns dark, making typing very difficult. I apologize in advance for any typos or mistakes on account of this visual challenge.


  11. by Carolyn

    On February 24, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Attila – So glad to hear from you. This is great and I will turn it into an article.

    As to your screen turning dark when you type comments, I don’t know what to say about that. If anyone else has experienced this, please let me know. When I type in the comment box on the post pages it doesn’t go dark.


  12. by Attila Kovacs

    On February 23, 2013 at 6:19 am

    As a quick follow up after reading my pending submission. The author, Mr. Moric Melmerstein, does NOT mention or say anything about who (names or descriptions) was with him in the photo of barracks 56 around April 16th around noon. Query: Whether or not an author in an iconic photo of yesteryears would not mention that in the old grainy middle school team photo the fact that Michael Jordan was in fact the scrawny, short but smiling kid at the end or row two sandwiched between the team water boy and a forgotten assistant coach?


  13. by Attila Kovacs

    On February 24, 2013 at 4:18 am

    Thank you Carolyn: As I read my submission, again I apologize for any typos, missing parentheticals, etc. I am still battling the darkend/blue screen. First, to clarify the Elie Wiesel quote, it has nothing to do with Mermelstein’s book as it is just a general quote. Here it is: “I speak of Jews who died at Auschwits; Of humanity that died at Auschwitz; for when Humanity kills Jews it kills itself.” This is from page “x.” Second, the references to Elijah in the book other than the reference I made to p.195 are as follows: p.201 – “Elijah was among them;” and p. 220 – When I arrived at the barracks, I found Barry and Elijah, they had built a small fire, and I placed the potatoes in a pail of water and watched as they cooked.” That is it, no more, no less. Third, what I found numerous items/statements confusing and/or strange can be illustrated as follows: a) in the 1971 International Red Cross letter reproduced on pages vii and viii, which was a response to the author’s request of known information about he and his father and brother, I found it very curious by omission that the IRC in Paragraph 1) cites their records as confirming Moric Mermelstein’s entry to Concentration Camp Buchenwald Prosoner’ No. 130508, on February 10, 1945, coming from Concentration Camp Gross-Rosen; former Prosoner’s No. A-4685. Absolutely no mention or confirmation of coming from or being in Auschwitz-Birkenau. b) The train ride from Budapest to Munkacs as described on p. 236-237 is curious indeed. “The train arrived (in Budapest) for us to board the train again for the journey eastward. The train began to move closer and closer to the border of the Carpathians … our home. We stopped for the night in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.” Why would a train headed eastward from Budapest towards Munkacs and in the general direction of the Carpathians, stop for a night in Bratislava, which is Northwest of Budapest? The directions are all wrong. The reference on the next page (p. 237), “At last the “train crossed the border of Slovakia into the Carpathian Mountains, makes no sense if the author was already in Slovakia (having stopped in Bratislava) the day before. c) The author runs into Ed, an American Jew, on the streets of Munich and “I began to converse in broken Yiddish.” Hence, my previous poin that the author’s mother tongue was Hungarian (not Yiddish, not Ukrainian, not Czech not Slovak). Maybe there is no significance herein, but I found it strange that the author would not clarify this upfront in the book. Lastly, I, by chance came upon an article in the Nyiregyhaza, Hungarian newspaper from March 3, 2009, in which Gruner Miklos, the most visible youngster of the Buchenwald Liberation photo, is interviewed about his meeting on December 14, 1986, in (Malmo) Sweden which was arranged expressly so that he could meet face-to-face with his old friend Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace prize winner. In short, Miklos Gruner, stated that the person he met in Sweden, Elie Wiesel, was NOT his close friend and protector at Buchenwald, Lazar Wiesel (born 1913 with tatoo number A-7713), but a stranger (“idegen”). A very interesting article indeed. Perhaps someone with better computer skills can find an English transation of this Hungarian newspaper article and post it on this site for others to analyze.


  14. by Patriot

    On April 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Brilliant find! Looking at the photo with standing man – there is a shadow from the flash. Need to examine further to confirm an attempt to doctor the photo – they don’t miss a trick. However the shadow appears too narrow and too boxy, in fact some portion lies in front of the foot?!



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