Friday, 21 September 2007

Darker meaning

One of the more interesting traits of photography is how the interpretation of images can be altered by time, personal perspective or events. Time is usually a big factor in how an image comes to be viewed but some photographs attain a deeper and darker meaning to reveal an even more disturbing truth.

An excellent example of this can be found at a United States Holocaust Memorial museum online presentation of photography taken by a serving SS officer at Auschwitz. Karl Hoecker served at Auschwitz from May 1944 - January 1944 and documented the life of the officers who ran the death camp. To Hoecker, these images were probably a keepsake, a reminder of happy times with comrades but for the modern viewer, the images take on a far darker meaning.

Many of the people in the photographs became infamous for their crimes; the notorious Dr Joseph Mengele ( seen in the centre of the top image), Camp commandants Richard Baer and Rudolph Hoess ( extreme left and right) were all key participants in the holocaust, and yet they are viewed by Hoecker in these photos as fellow officers, maybe even friends. The horrors they have perpetrated are nowhere to be seen in the benign and relaxed photos but you still feel like you are viewing evil itself.

The remarkable collection of images can be viewed here

The story behind the photo album is covered in this New York Times article

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