The Höcker Album. Auschwitz Through the Lens of the SS: Photos of Nazi Leadership at the Camp – Christophe Busch, Stefan Hördler, Robert Jan van Pelt
SS photographers took pictures of what happened to the Hungarian Jews in 1944. This photoseries has been preserved in the Auschwitz Album. For a long time the album was perceived as the only photoseries about Auschwitz-Birkenau that was made during the Second World War. However, in 2007 a second album with photos from Auschwitz-Birkenau was discovered: The Höcker Album. It was part of a private collection and contained, amongst others, pictures of SS-men and women on leave at the recreation center Solahütte. This little known resort was part of the KZ Auschwitz.
At first sight the Auschwitz Album and the Höcker Album seem to be each other’s opposites. While the first album shows the insanity of the industrial murder of the Jews in Birkenau, the second album portrays the ‘normal’ life of the SS. We see ‘ordinary’ men and women who are taking time off from their daily activities, the mass-murder. The Höcker Album confronts us with the social capital that was accumulated in Auschwitz in order to continue the industrial murder process. Mass-murder is teamwork.
The Höcker Album was taken to the US by an officer of the American army after the war. He gave the album, which belonged to the SS-Obersturmführer Karl Höcker, to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. The first photo in the album is dated ‘June 21, 1944’, when Birkenau was in function and was ‘taking care’ of large groups of Hungarian Jews.
The Höcker Album includes introductions written by Holocaust experts such as Christophe Busch (Kazerne Dossin: Memorial, Museum and Documentation centre about the Holocaust and Human Rights in Mechelen and the Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Eduation in Gent), Robert Jan van Pelt (University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada), Piotr Setkiewicz (Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau), Judy Cohen and Rebecca Erbelding (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), Stefan Hördler (German Historical Institute in Washington DC) and Sarah M. Cushman (Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau Country, New York). The foreword is written by Sara J. Bloomfield (director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum).