In January 2007, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received a donation of a photograph album that appears to have belonged to SS-Obersturmführer Karl Höcker, the adjutant to SS-Sturmbannführer Richard Baer, the commandant of Auschwitz. The album can now be viewed in its entirety online, and features Karl Höcker, Richard Baer, Rudolf Hoess, Josef Kramer, and über monster Josef Mengele (known to inmates as The Angel of Death).
This album is incredibly disturbing, in a way unlike any other album I have seen from Auschwitz or any other camps. The album contains no pictures at all documenting Nazi atrocities. Rather, the pictures are all of happy Nazis just going about their lives – all within feet of where millions were exterminated. Pictures of a hunting trip, snacking on blueberries, dedicating a new hospital building, a visit to a coal mine, and more.
It is easy to dehumanize the purveyors of Nazi genocide so as to help come to grips with the Holocaust, but this album shows a very normal looking human side to some of the most notorious men in Nazi Germany, and that’s more disturbing that I had expected.