In my research sometimes I discover things on my way to looking up other items. The other day I discovered the stories and photos of two albums. Both contained photographs of people at Auschwitz in 1944. One was an album of SS guards, officers, and women, all relaxing at a retreat center. The photos were taken by SS officer Karl Hocker and placed in an album, which was later captured by an American G.I. For decades the American soldier kept the album in his home, until 2007 when he donated it to the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
You can look at many of these photos online. Just look up “Nazi photo album Auschwitz.” The pictures are fascinating. Those show immaculately dressed men and women, laughing, singing, playing musical instruments, relaxing as if they were at a spa. In one photo a Nazi is decorating a Christmas tree. Remember, these are the very same people who were beating, torturing, and gassing to death hundreds of thousands in 1944. In fact, from May to July of 1944 some 437,000
Hungarian Jews were shipped to the camp. Over 80% of them were selected for death upon arrival. The photos also clearly show Dr. Joseph Mengele (the man who performed horrible “medical” experiments on children), Rudolf Hoess (the “founder” of Auschwitz), Josef Kramer (the commandant of Birkenau death camp) and Richard Baer (the last commandant of Auschwitz), All of these Nazis looked so…normal. They knew what they were doing, and they were just fine with it.
The other album is called the “Lilly Jacobs Album” because it was discovered by Lilly Jacobs, an Auschwitz survivor who had been transferred to the Dora concentration camp late in the war.
Miraculously she found this other album made by an SS officer at Dora, some 400 miles away from Auschwitz. In the album she found pictures of thousands of Jews being assembled once they got off the trains, and marched straight to the gas chambers. Look at their faces…intense sorrow, pain, confusion, and fear.
Then compare the faces of these men, women, and children…even little babies…as they were being led to the gas chambers, with the laughing, singing faces of their SS killers. How could those Germans do that? How could they justify murdering hundreds of thousands, millions of innocent human beings who never hurt them? How could they participate in the killing of little children, then go laughing and singing at a resort?
They convinced themselves that those people arriving on the trains were “problems”. They were diseases that had to be eradicated. They were a burden to the rest of society. They were inconvenient, and so the inconvenience had to be removed.
Go look up these two albums and stare at these photos. Then ask yourself if any in our culture today have convinced themselves that some in our society need to be eradicated also….if they are just too “inconvenient.”