Fun In Hell
German officers and women's auxiliary having a day of fun during World War II is not that unusual; fun does happen in wartime. But what's made this and the other photos so remarkable, and such a comment on the human psyche, is that they are of the people who ran the Auschwitz death camp.
People like this:
That's Auschwitz camp commandant Richard Baer and the notorious doctor of death Josef Mengele on the left, having a pleasant little chat with the commandant of the Birkenau camp, Josef Kramer (obscured) and its former commandant, Rudolf Höss, in the foreground.
Look at the comradely smiles, the casual postures, as if they had not a care in the world -- as the souls of those they killed pile higher and higher on their shoulders.
Then, back to the fun:
And, come Christmas, business as usual between the operators of the death camps and their God, as this SS officer lights the candles on a Christmas tree:
What a lovely big tree -- but not big enough to cover the massive guilt of these brutal cogs in the evil Nazi machine.
A retired U.S. Army intelligence officer found the photos in an album in Frankfurt and gave them to the museum. The album originally belonged to Karl Höcker, the adjutant to the final camp commandant at Auschwitz.
You can read about the response these photos have had in Germany here, at Spiegel.