Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Unique archival finds: Auschwitz's SS officer scrapbook

Auschwitz Officer's Scrapbook
Nazi officers and female auxiliaries pose on a wooden bridge in Solahütte.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has an online photo scrapbook depicting the everyday life of Auschwitz's SS officers.

From the International Herald Tribune article:

The comparisons between the albums are both poignant and obvious, as they juxtapose the comfortable daily lives of the guards with the horrific reality within the camp, where thousands were starving and 1.1 million died.

For example, one of the Höcker pictures, shot on July 22, 1944, shows a group of cheerful young women who worked as SS communications specialists eating bowls of fresh blueberries. One turns her bowl upside down and makes a mock frown because she has finished her portion.

On that day, said Judith Cohen, a historian at the Holocaust museum in Washington, 150 new prisoners arrived at the Birkenau site. Of that group, 21 men and 12 women were selected for work, the rest transported immediately to the gas chambers.

Rebecca Erbelding, an archivist at the the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, offers audio commentary on the scrapbook in an interactive New York Times feature.

She states, "We know that for every artifact like this album that we receive, so many more still exist, hidden in in closets, in attics, and in the homes of survivors, liberators, witnesses and their families, across not only Europe and Israel but in the United states as well."

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