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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
In pictures: Nazis unwind at Auschwitz

Front page of the photo album, showing Auschwitz commander Richard Baer (left) and Karl Hoecker

Newly uncovered photographs of Nazi officials and SS officers relaxing away from their duties at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1944 have gone on display online.

Women SS auxiliaries and Karl Hoecker cross a bridge in a sudden shower at Solahuette (courtesy US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

The 16-page album, given to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum by a former US army officer who found it in Frankfurt in 1946, belonged to an SS officer called Karl Hoecker.

The SS retreat at Solahuette, outside Auschwitz in Poland

Many of the 116 images were taken at an SS resort called Solahuette, just outside Auschwitz, where guards and officials were sent to unwind as a reward for "good work".

From left,  Josef Kramer, Dr Josef Mengele, Richard Baer, Karl Hoecker and unidentified at Solahuette

Among those pictured socialising are notorious Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele (second left), who experimented on prisoners, and officers who ran the death camps.

Karl Hoecker and SS women auxiliaries eat blueberries (courtesy of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

On the same day Hoecker and SS women were snapped enjoying blueberries, records show 150 prisoners arrived at Auschwitz. The SS selected 33 for work and gassed the rest.

Karl Hoecker lights candles on a Christmas tree (courtesy of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Hoecker, who claimed he did not know about the mass killing of Jews at Auschwitz, is seen decorating a Christmas tree only weeks before Russia's Red Army liberated the camp.

Senior SS members (front row) and others in a sing-along at Solahuette (courtesy of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Historians say the images of SS officers enjoying themselves in their time off are not a surprise, given other documentary evidence - but are chilling nonetheless.

Karl Hoecker with his dog (courtesy of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Holocaust survivors say they hope the album, while offensive, will remind viewers that the perpetrators of genocide are ordinary people, and act as a warning for future generations.



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