The HöCKER ALBUM (or HOECKER ALBUM) is a collection of photographs believed to have been collected by Karl-Friedrich Höcker , an officer for the SS during the Nazi regime in Germany. It contains over one hundred images of the lives and living conditions of the officers and administrators who ran the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex. The album is unique, and an indispensable document of the Holocaust ; it is now in the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C.
* 1 Discovery * 2 Contents * 3 Mengele photographs * 4 Timing of photographs * 5 Höcker\'s case * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 External links
According to the museum, the photograph album was found by an
unidentified American counterintelligence officer who was billeted in
In January 2007, the American officer donated the album to the USHMM , with the request that his identity not be disclosed. The captions of the photographs, and the people featured in the images, quickly confirmed that it depicts life in and around the Auschwitz camps. The very first photograph is a double portrait of Richard Baer , Auschwitz camp commandant between 1944 and 1945, and Baer's adjutant, Karl Höcker .
The album contains 116 photographs, all in black and white , almost all of them featuring German officers. It is believed to have been the property of Höcker because he appears in far more of the images than any other individual. On the title page underneath a picture of Höcker and Baer is written, "With the Commandant SS Stubaf . Baer, Auschwitz 21.6.44", identifying Höcker as the owner of the album. He is also the only person in the album to appear alone in any of the images.
Some of the images depict formal events, like military funerals and the dedication of a new hospital. They also include images of the camp officers relaxing at a staff retreat known as the Solahütte , a rustic lodge only around 20 miles away from the camp complex. These images are regarded as the most striking, because they show cheerful staff officers singing, drinking and eating while, in the camp itself, tremendous suffering is taking place.
A number of the photographs show officers relaxing in the company of young women—stenographers and typists who were known generally as Helferinnen , the German word for (female) helpers.
Both of the camp's most well-known commanders, Richard Baer and Rudolf Höss , are visible in the photographs. But possibly the most notorious Auschwitz figure who features in the album is Dr. Josef Mengele , known to camp prisoners as the "Angel of Death." Mengele, a trained physician, directed the medical experiments on twin children in the camp. He regularly took part in the "selection" on the train arrival platform, judging which prisoners would be immediately executed and which would be permitted to live and perform slave labor.
In all, the album contains eight photographs in which Mengele appears. Before the donation of the album to the museum, no images were known to exist showing him within the camp grounds.
TIMING OF PHOTOGRAPHS
The photographs in the
According to Rebecca Erbelding, the museum archivist who received the album from its donor and first recognized its significance, "the album reminds us that the perpetrators of the Holocaust were human beings, men and women with families, children and pets, who celebrated holidays and took vacations... These people were human beings... and these photographs remind us what human beings are capable of when they succumb to anti-Semitism, racism and hatred."
Höcker married before the war and had a son and daughter during the war, with whom he was reunited after his release from 18 months in a British POW camp in 1946. Early in the 1960s he was apprehended by West German authorities in his hometown, where he was a bank official. It is not known why the bank rehired and promoted him after a long absence during which he had nothing to do with banking.
At his trial in