Hammelburg, Germany, 1947. PLEASE CONTACT ME DIRECTLY BEFORE PLACING AN ORDER. This item is offered on behalf of a non-profit, and a buyer will make payment to the owner.
“Civilian Internment: Enclosure 6. Hammelburg, 1945/46." An album of 61 captioned snapshots taken in the camp during 1945/46 and assembled in 1947, plus 3 loose ones of a few of the same men in Venice. The volume was created by Oberleutnant Hans Rühle and given to his friend Oberleutnant Richard Lehr. A letter in German from Rühle to Lehr on printed camp letterhead accompanies the album. It is dated 24 June 1947 and describes the book as a gift in remembrance of their time together in Hammelburg.
The book is a very nicely made volume in 3/4-canvas or -linen and marbled boards. There are 15 stiff leaves with photos and texts on both sides, and tanned tissues interleaved. The photos document both some of the members of the camp and their activities and surroundings. The page size is 18.7 x 13.7 cm. The title and captions are all by hand in a very precise calligraphy. Given the construction of the volume and it contents, I believe it to be unique or, possibly, one of two or a few for Hans Rühle’s close friends. The condition is fine.
The photographs portray about 30 different people singly and in groups, all identified, except for the three loose ones. Nearly half of them portray camp scenes and activities. The men are dressed both in street clothes and what appear to be American uniforms. Nearly all look healthy and in good spirits.
The original German camp was taken over by the American forces after 8 May 1945, and part of it later was used to hold former members of the Nazi party and other suspect individuals. Some of the people identified individually appear to be staff. The final photo, of the gate to the camp, is captioned “Das Tor zur “Freiheit,” “The door to freedom,” and the likely explanation of the three Venice photographs.
One page has three photos captioned “Deutsche Lagerleitung: v. l. n. r. Künzel, Kafitz, Dr. Rühle”; “Die Lagerzeitung ‘Ausblick'”; and “Rechtsabteilung.” Thus, those inviduals perhaps were part of the German administration of the camp. Dr. Rühle very much resembles a man in one of the loose photos from Venice, and he is standing next to a seated man in a hat who might be Richard Lehr.
A Hans Rühle born in 1939 in Düsseldorf is the right age to be the compiler’s son. He had a position high in the German defense department and then became a political commentator. Attempts to reach him have produced no results.
During WWII, Hammelburg was a camp for captured American aviators and the location for the fictional Academy-Award-winning film "Stalag 17," but this volume appears to have nothing to do with that history.
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