This is SS officer Karl Hoecker, with his dog, Favorit. Isn’t it idyllic? Karl and his dog. Thirty-three years old, in the prime of life, a family man with a wife and lovely little daughter back home in Lubbecke. He loved them. He loved his dog. He loved his job.
The only problem was that his job involved the murder of his fellow human beings on an industrial scale at Auschwitz.
Karl Hoecker joined the SS in 1933 and ten years later, in 1943, became the adjutant to the commandant at Majdanek-Lublin during the Operation Reinhardt mass deportations and murders. In May 1944 he moved to Auschwitz, again as adjutant to the commandant.
What of it? Karl was a keen photographer and these are his pictures of happy times at the death camp. The pictures came to light when an America former intelligence officer donated the album to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
What I find terrifying about these pictures is the sheer ordinariness of the people. If they were obvious monsters, you wouldn’t be so appalled, because monsters are supposed to do monstrous things but it’s when the guy from the hardware shop does these monstrous things, or the girl next to you on the bus. That’s when you recognise the real horror.
Here’s a lovely picture of Karl with the girls (the SS Helferinnen or female auxiliaries) having a bit of a break. The same day this picture was taken, 150 Jewish prisoners arrived. The SS selected 33 for work and gassed the rest.
Isn’t it just lovely?
Here are a few more of Karl’s holiday pics involving the staff of the death camp relaxing. As you do.
Ths is Karl lighting the Tannenbaum. The Christmas tree.
Here’s a picture of the caring professions:
See that guy there on the left with his arms folded? That’s 33-year-old Josef Mengele, the doctor who perverted his profession in the service of evil. In truth, he wasn’t really a doctor, apart from holding a medical degree, but in many ways he exemplifies the dilletantist nature of the Nazi regime who were, for the most part, amazingly mediocre and boring.
A pathetic bunch of individuals, for the most part, as their followers are today.
Hoecker remained at Auschwitz until the evacuation, then moved to Dora-Mittelbau but escaped from the camp before the Allies took it. He was eventually captured by the British while pretending to be an ordinary soldier near Hamburg.
Hoecker was released at the end of 1946 but turned himself in for a de-Nazification trial in 1952 and was sentenced to nine months for membership of the SS but didn’t serve the time, thanks to a new law. He became the chief cashier of the regional bank in Lubbecke, a job he lost for a while during the pre-trial investigations for the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial.
In 1965 Hoecker was sentenced to seven years for his part in the Auschwitz murders. The judges decided that he aided and abetted the murder of 1,000 people, but on balance, because he’d been a model citizen and had volunteered for for denazification, they couldn’t prove he had been anything but an administrator. He got seven years, but time already served was taken into account and he was released in 1970.
Naturally, he got his job back as Chief Cashier of the regional bank in Lubbecke because being a genocidal murderer was no obstacle to becoming a senior official in German banks at that time. In 1989, 78-year-old Hoecker was sentenced by a German court to four years in jal for his involvement in gassing Polish Jews at the Majdanek murder camp.
Hoecker finally died in 2000 at the age of 88, a peaceful old man, a dog-lover and a callous murderer.
Isn’t it just lovely?