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Karl Höcker's Auschwitz album (USHMM)

The Höcker Album (or Hoecker Album) is a collection of photographs believed to have been collected by Karl-Friedrich Höcker, an officer in 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.

According to the museum, the photograph album was found by an unidentified American counterintelligence officer who was billeted in Frankfurt after Germany's surrender in 1945. This officer discovered the photo album in an apartment there, and when he returned to the United States, he took the album with him.

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 written is "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, trained at the SS school in Obernai, who were known generally as SS Helferinnen, the German word for (female) "helpers".

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