There’s a new exhibit at the US Holocaust Museum, which they’ve put up on-line. It’s a collection of 116 photographs from Auschwitz, showing SS officers in their spare time, on-duty, and so on. The first 12 are the ones I find the most interesting and simultaneously unsettling; it’s just photos of people having fun. Lots of them look like really nice people; the sorts of faces you would expect to see amongst your friends. Except that the men are wearing the uniforms of SS officers, the women of SS auxiliaries, even while they’re playing accordions and laughing in the rain.
(There was lots of rain there. I’ve heard that the amount of smoke produced tended to seed clouds.)
Several of the later photos are interesting, too. #57 shows the commandant (Richard Baer), the previous commandant (Rudolf Hoess), and Josef Mengele just hanging out; this picture has a lot less of the “oh, what nice guys” aspect and a lot more of the “wow. So this is what villains look like in their spare time” aspect.
The usual sentiments about “the banality of evil” apply. The NY Times has an article and op-ed piece about the exhibit, which have some interesting bits about the provenance and significance of the photos.