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SS Auschwitz album

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2007.24

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    SS Auschwitz album
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    Overview

    Description
    The album consists of 116 photographs taken during the last six months of Auschwitz, between June 1944 and January 1945. The album shows Auschwitz during its most lethal period, coinciding with the murder of 400,000 Hungarian Jews. However, these events are alluded to only indirectly. The album was compiled by Obersturmführer Karl Höcker, the adjutant to Richard Baer, the last commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp. This album also depicts other noted SS camp officers, including Rudolf Höss, Josef Kramer, Franz Hössler and Dr. Josef Mengele. These are the only known photographs of some of these men taken at the Auschwitz complex.

    The album includes documentation of official visits and ceremonies, but also personal photographs depicting SS social activities. The earliest photos show the June visits first of Luftwaffe General Erich Quade and of SS Obergruppenführers Oswald Pohl and Ernst-Heinrich Schmauser. Pohl came to Auschwitz to inspect new construction in preparation for the "Judenaktion" (i.e. arrival of Hungarian Jews) and commented on the insufficient camouflaging of the crematoriums and gas chambers. Many of photographs are taken at Solahütte, an SS resort some 30 km south of the main camp of Auschwitz. Included in these photos are scenes of a late July gathering in honor of Rudolf Höss and a day trip for SS Helferinnen (young SS women who worked as communications specialists) on July 22, 1944. Several pages depict a ceremony surrounding the groundbreaking of the SS-Lazarette (troop hospital) at the entrance to Birkenau, which took place most likely in mid-September. The Lazarette was later bombed by the Allies on December 26th, 1944, killing 5 members of the SS, whose funeral is also represented in the album. Chronologically the final photographs show the lighting of a Yule tree and a hunting trip the first week of January. Only two weeks later, the SS began evacuating the camp, and the Soviet Army liberated the remaining prisoners on January 27, 1945.
    Date
    inclusive:  1944-1945
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of an Anonymous Donor
    Collection Creator
    Karl Höcker
    Biography
    Karl Höcker (1911-2000) was born in Engershausen, Germany, on December 11, 1911, as the youngest of six children. His father, Heinrich Höcker, was a construction worker and was killed in World War I. His mother, Louise Höcker (nee Unger) struggled to support the family. Höcker worked as an assistant cashier and office worker at banks in Lubbecke. He joined the SS in 1933 and the Nazi party in 1937. He married in 1937, had a daughter in 1939 and a son in October 1944.

    Höcker received military training as a member of the 9th SS-infantry regiment in Danzig in 1939 and 1940. He was briefly employed as a clerk with the inspectorate of the concentration camps (IKL) in Oranienburg before serving as a clerk at Neuengamme beginning in April 1940. He was then appointed a non-commissioned officer (Stabsscharführer) in the Neuengamme satellite camp Arbeitstorf, until the camp was closed in October 1942. From late 1942 to May 1943, Höcker trained at the Junkerschule. He was promoted to SS-Untersturmführer and became the adjutant of the Majdanek camp commander. Höcker served at Majdanek during the November 1943 Operation Erntefest (Harvest Feast), which included Majdanek’s largest mass execution. Höcker was transferred to Auschwitz in May 1944 to be adjutant to Richard Baer and was promoted to SS-Obersturmführer in June 1944. His first months at Auschwitz oversaw the murder of 430,000 Hungarian Jews. Höcker left Auschwitz during the camp’s January 1945 evacuation. After a stop at Groß-Rosen, he arrived at Dora-Mittelbau, near Nordhausen, where he was once again appointed to be Baer’s adjutant. After that camp’s surrender in April 1945, Höcker disguised himself as a non-commissioned officer of the Wehrmacht. He was captured by British troops in the region of Oldenburger Halbinsel in Holstein.

    The British released Höcker in 1946, not realizing that he was an SS-officer. Höcker hid in the Holstein region until 1952, when he submitted a denazification petition in Bielefeld so he could return to his family. He was sentenced to nine months in prison for membership in the SS but did not have to serve it, thanks to a 1954 law. Attention returned to him following Baer’s arrest in December 1960, and Höcker was one of the 24 defendants in the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, which opened in December 1963. He was accused of participating in the Nazi extermination program including the operation and security of the gas installations, procuring the gas, implementing execution orders, and processing arriving transports. As adjutant, he was accused of knowing the unlawfulness of the commandant’s execution orders. In August 1965, Höcker was sentenced to seven years in prison for aiding and abetting murder in at least three cases and at least 1,000 people. In 1988, Höcker was called to trial in Bielefeld for his actions at Majdanek where, as an adjutant, he had ordered the Zyklon B used in the gas chambers. In May 1989, he was sentenced to four years in prison for aiding and abetting in a triple murder of 20 people at a time. As an accessory, Höcker had been complicit in supplying the gas intended for the killings. In February 1990, he was arrested in Lübbecke and transported to the Prison Hospital in Fröndenberg. He was released in October 1992, returned to his family in Lübbecke, and died on January 30, 2000.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Genre/Form
    Photograph albums.
    Extent
    1 box

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    To the best of the Museum's knowledge, there are no known copyright restrictions on the material(s) in this collection, or the material is in the public domain. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The donor, a former member of the Counter-Intelligence Corps of the United States Army discovered this album in an apartment in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1945. He donated this collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on Jan. 16, 2007.
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-14 08:49:28
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn518658