Two Realities in Auschwitz

I can’t think of any place on earth that was more evil than Auschwitz, although other camps that had perhaps more cruelty, it is the scale of the cruelty, torture and murder that makes Auschwitz pure evil, a literal hell on Earth. The picture above is of Yisrael and Zelig Jacob, the younger brothers of Lili Jacob. They were both murdered in Auschwitz.

Below is a photograph of Jewish women and children deported from Hungary, separated from the men, lined up for selection at the Auschwitz Camp in Poland during May 1944. Their reality was death.

However, some had a completely different reality. They could enjoy themselves after a day’s work. They could relax in Solahütte a little-known resort in Poland for the Nazi German guards, administrators, and auxiliary personnel of the Auschwitz/Birkenau/Buna facilities during the Holocaust. Although postcards of the era sent by German staff sometimes bore the mysterious pre-printed return address “SS Hütte Soletal” [Solahütte], the rustic hamlet remained largely unknown to historians until 2007, when the Höcker Album of memorabilia owned by SS officer Karl-Friedrich Höcker including vintage Auschwitz photographs was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which then released images from the album online for study. Some of the photographs identified Solahütte for the first time.

Nazi officers and female Auschwitz staff gleefully pose on a wooden bridge at Solahütte.

Members of the SS female auxiliaries sit on a fence railing in Solahütte as Höcker passes out bowls of blueberries.

This to me is probably the most incomprehensible aspect of the Holocaust. How could human beings enjoy themselves knowing about the evil that was committed in their names and often by themselves? Maybe I am just wrong in thinking of them as human beings.


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