September 20, 2007
Frolicking at AuschwitzThe banality of evil, in photos:
As Ms. Erbelding and other archivists reviewed the album, they realized they had a scrapbook of sorts of the lives of Auschwitz’s senior SS officers that was maintained by Karl Höcker, the adjutant to the camp commandant. Rather than showing the men performing their death camp duties, the photos depicted, among other things, a horde of SS men singing cheerily to the accompaniment of an accordionist, Höcker lighting the camp’s Christmas tree, a cadre of young SS women frolicking and officers relaxing, some with tunics shed, for a smoking break.Photo after photo shows the Nazis carrying on as if they're on holiday, while thousands of Hungarian Jews were being transported to the camp via Birkenau to be gassed.
What's even more chilling are their smiling faces, not particularly hideous the way evil is supposed to be, except now we know the unspeakable things they have done.
The New York Times has an audio slide show narrated by an archivist of the National Holocaust Museum.
The museum's web site is here.
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