A photo album containing 116 rare photographs of senior SS officers and Nazi officials at the Auschwitz concentration camp was unveiled Wednesday by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The photos, taken between May and December 1944, show the guards and officials relaxing at events including a Christmas gathering and a sing-a-long. Many photos were taken as the gas chambers and crematories were operating at and above capacity as the Nazis frantically sought to eliminate Jews in Europe as the war neared its end. The German camp in Poland was liberated by the Soviets on Jan. 27, 1945.
The images were in an album that had been maintained by Karl Hoecker, the adjutant to the camp commandant.
Hoecker's personal photo album depicts a sing-a-long with an accordion player and about 70 SS men, including Josef Mengele, the camp doctor notorious for his bizarre and cruel medical experiments. Mengele was joined by other infamous camp leaders, including Josef Kramer and Rudolf Hoess.