Wednesday Notebook

The Dad File: As reported elsewhere, my dad had surgery Monday after falling and breaking a hip over the weekend. The operation took a couple hours all told; a surgeon inserted three pins into the fractured bone to help it mend. Afterward, he told my brother Chris and sister Ann, “If you break your hip, I guess this is the way you want to do it.” Yesterday, I talked to Dad in the hospital in Evanston. He sounded great, and the nurses or physical therapists had already had him up briefly, parading around with a walker. I’m relieved, though I know there’s some rehab ahead and that Dad won’t be able to immediately resume his routine of scouting out local Dairy Queens.

Guest observation: Courtesy of The Smiths: “I was looking for a job, and then I found a job/And heaven knows I’m miserable now.”


Auschwitz — the frolicsome side: The New York Times has a remarkable story today — you can tell, because I’m remarking on it — about a newly disclosed photo album depicting life at Auschwitz during the last six or seven months before Soviet troops liberated it in January 1945. You know, even S.S. troops assigned to the slaughter of innocents had a way of maintaining a day-to-day existence that probably helped reassure them they were good people doing a distasteful job. The pictures show social gatherings, a Christmas-tree lighting (the Soviets were just a few weeks from the camp’s gates), and hearty singalongs. As the Times article explains, a U.S. soldier discovered the pictures in an album in Germany after the war; he donated them to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last year. The museum, in turn, has created a Web exhibit that went online this week. The Times piece online also includes a multimedia presentation with some good background from the exhibit’s curator.

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4 Replies to “Wednesday Notebook”

  1. “Museum curators have avoided describing the album as something like “monsters at play” or “killers at their leisure.””
    I have to wonder why.
    Good Luck to your dad.

  2. Thanks, Rob, re: my dad. He’s out of the hospital
    already and into a rehab place for a couple weeks. My
    sister and brother both live close by, and that has been a life saver.

  3. Amazing pictures. One looks at all of them, searching for signs of some “inner pathology” and–aside from the uniforms–seeing nothing outstanding. What is striking is how ordinary these guys look. Mengele doesn’t look like a sociopath and neither does that guy Hoess. It is hard to imagine that a short walk from where these photos were taken horrendous crimes were occurring.

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