Archive for September 2007


music...i just love it. if there is something i can not get enough of it is music. i was listening to this song the other day and it is just beautiful.
music, among other things, is capable of communicating and that is just beautiful...

just lovely...

in the news...

yesterday, iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad spoke at columbia and well, that was interesting to read about. i myself am not a huge fan of the iranian president...due to a number of obvious reasons, especially his adamant support of holocaust deniers, but i did find it interesting that he was axed in the introduction offered by the president of the university. um...even if he is the president of iran, i think it is common courtesy that you do not insult a guest and well, he was invited to speak so that makes him a guest:) it was interesting that the university head made this country sound a little holier than we are all about love and justice and community and truth...ahahaha:) he seemed to think he had every right to slap the iranian president over the wrist in a very public arena. i have no opinion...i guess i am just stating the obvious...he is not right but neither are we in many things. i do believe we have plenty of unresolved issues here. plenty of things that make us very black sheep to the rest of the world. it just seems like we need to adapt a new way of dealing with "unlikables" here because if we don't WE will continue to be the "unlikables":)

anywho, he also addressed the UN today. i do not know if anyone tuned in to watch and hear what he had to share but you missed out if you didn't. well, he talked about religion quite a bit, his beliefs and such. he even talked about love and peace. and then he said the most interesting thing. he said his country just wants to have a "peaceful civilian nuclear program"...ahahaha:) oh, i did smile and laugh just a bit. since when is the creation of nuclear weaponry considered a peaceful civilian activity?

yesterday also, the UN hosted a climate summit in preparation for the real thing coming this december, where countries will bind themselves, commit themselves to bettering the world. it was a brilliant idea, i think. it presented an opportunity to discuss the crisis engulfing this planet. 150 nations attended the summit...the US president decided he would sit this one out [side note: al gore and arnold schwarzenegger were there to show they supported the cause]. the US is going to be hosting its own climate summit at the end of this week...i guess "voluntary climate change" is the approach it will be taking. hmmm... i am certain no country is looking forward to the proposed limits of gas emissions but all seem to be looking at the bigger picture...preservation of our already decaying planet. there is a world movement in the works to help slow down the damage already done to the environment. it is incredible that so many nations are willing to put everything aside for the cause of saving the planet... it makes sense though:) i don't know. it just seems like this country should want to take the necessary steps to create a more stable environment for the future generations but the actions being taken by our heads are not showing it.

side note: yesterday, myanmar experienced the biggest anti-government protest since 1988. monks decided to stand up for themselves and for the people by creating a peaceful protest. they chanted "democracy" as they marched through the streets. this protest was calling for peace for the people. freedom from government suppression. the monks were beaten and arrested for choosing to fight for their freedom. oh humanity...

ps...just in case you are not aware, "magna carta for sale" is being auctioned off in december for 20-30 million dollars. interesting...

opening a letter...

i just received this article from a friend and thought to share it.

this is why archival studies seems like a worthy pursuit.

In the Shadow of Horror, SS Guardians Frolic

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Karl Höcker, adjutant to the commandant of Auschwitz, and SS auxiliaries relaxing at a recreation lodge near the camp.

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Published: September 19, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 — Last December, Rebecca Erbelding, a young archivist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, opened a letter from a former United States Army intelligence officer who said he wanted to donate photographs of Auschwitz he had found more than 60 years ago in Germany.

Ms. Erbelding was intrigued: Although Auschwitz may be the most notorious of the Nazi death camps, there are only a small number of known photos of the place before its liberation in 1945. Some time the next month, the museum received a package containing 16 cardboard pages, with photos pasted on both sides, and their significance quickly became apparent.

As Ms. Erbelding and other archivists reviewed the album, they realized they had a scrapbook of sorts of the lives of Auschwitz's senior SS officers that was maintained by Karl Höcker, the adjutant to the camp commandant. Rather than showing the men performing their death camp duties, the photos depicted, among other things, a horde of SS men singing cheerily to the accompaniment of an accordionist, Höcker lighting the camp's Christmas tree, a cadre of young SS women frolicking and officers relaxing, some with tunics shed, for a smoking break.

In all there are 116 pictures, beginning with a photo from June 21, 1944, of Höcker and the commandant of the camp, Richard Baer, both in full SS regalia. The album also contains eight photos of Josef Mengele, the camp doctor notorious for participating in the selections of arriving prisoners and bizarre and cruel medical experiments. These are the first authenticated pictures of Mengele at Auschwitz, officials at the Holocaust museum said.

The photos provide a stunning counterpoint to what up until now has been the only major source of preliberation Auschwitz photos, the so-called Auschwitz Album, a compilation of pictures taken by SS photographers in the spring of 1944 and discovered by a survivor in another camp. Those photos depict the arrival at the camp of a transport of Hungarian Jews, who at the time made up the last remaining sizable Jewish community in Europe. The Auschwitz Album, owned by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, depicts the railside selection process at Birkenau, the area where trains arrived at the camp, as SS men herded new prisoners into lines.

The comparisons between the albums are both poignant and obvious, as they juxtapose the comfortable daily lives of the guards with the horrific reality within the camp, where thousands were starving and 1.1 million died.

For example, one of the Höcker pictures, shot on July 22, 1944, shows a group of cheerful young women who worked as SS communications specialists eating bowls of fresh blueberries. One turns her bowl upside down and makes a mock frown because she has finished her portion.

On that day, said Judith Cohen, a historian at the Holocaust museum in Washington, 150 new prisoners arrived at the Birkenau site. Of that group, 21 men and 12 women were selected for work, the rest transported immediately to the gas chambers.

Those killings were part of the final frenetic efforts of the Nazis to eliminate the Jews of Europe and others deemed undesirable as the war neared its end. That summer the crematoriums broke down from overuse and some bodies had to be burned in open pits. A separate but small group of known preliberation photos were taken clandestinely of those burnings.

Auschwitz was abandoned and evacuated on Jan. 18, 1945, and liberated by Soviet forces on Jan. 27. Many of the Höcker photos were taken at Solahütte, an Alpine-style recreation lodge the SS used on the far reaches of the camp complex alongside the Sola River.

Though they as yet have no plans to exhibit the Höcker album photos, curators at the Holocaust Memorial Museum have created an online display of them on the museum's Web site ( that will be available this week. In many cases they have contrasted the Höcker images with those from the Auschwitz Album. In one, SS women alight from a bus at Solahütte for a day of recreation; meanwhile, in a picture from the Auschwitz Album taken at about the same time, haggard and travel-weary women and children get off a cattle car at the camp.

Museum curators have avoided describing the album as something like "monsters at play" or "killers at their leisure." Ms. Cohen said the photos were instructive in that they showed the murderers were, in some sense, people who also behaved as ordinary human beings. "In their self-image, they were good men, good comrades, even civilized," she said.

Sarah J. Bloomfield, the museum's director, said she believed that other undiscovered caches of photos or documents concerning the Holocaust existed in attics and might soon be lost to history.

The donor, who had asked to remain anonymous, was in his 90s when he contacted the museum, and he died this summer. He told the museum's curators that he found the photo album in a Frankfurt apartment where he lived in 1946.

The photos of the Auschwitz Album were discovered by Lili Jacob, a Hungarian Jew who was deported in May 1944 to Auschwitz, near Krakow in Poland. She was transferred to another camp, Dora-Mittelbau in Germany, where she discovered the pictures in a bedside table in an abandoned SS barracks.

She was stunned to recognize pictures of herself, her rabbi and her brothers aged 9 and 11, both of whom she later discovered had been gassed immediately after arrival.

Höcker fled Auschwitz before the camp's liberation. When he was captured by the British he was carrying false documents identifying him as a combat soldier. After the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel, West German authorities tracked down Höcker in Engershausen, his hometown, where he was working as a bank official.

He was convicted of war crimes and served seven years before his release in 1970, after which he was rehired by the bank. Höcker died in 2000 at 89.