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Ghosts in the sun: Hitler’s personal photographer at Dachau, 1950

A series of photographs at the Nazi concentration camp Dachau document a decaying, sunlit place full of bad memories and restless ghosts. See the full gallery at Life.com.

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Behind the walls

Do places have memories? Do buildings where people did terrible, bestial things to other human beings somehow retain an echo of that savagery within their walls, their floors, their foundations?
Hugo Jaeger -- The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Memorial plaque

Even the most die-hard realist might find it hard to resist those sorts of questions when looking at Hugo Jaeger's eerily quiet, color pictures from Dachau in 1950. Jaeger, after all, was not just another visitor to the former concentration camp; as Adolf Hitler's personal photographer, he traveled with and chronicled Hitler and his Nazi cohorts at rallies, military parades, parties and, frequently, in quieter, private moments.

Hugo Jaeger -- The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Eerie silence

But what of the photos in this gallery, made five years after Hitler's death (by suicide in a sordid bunker) and the fall of the Reich? Even an avowed Nazi like Jaeger could not pretend that documenting a brick-and-mortar remnant of "master race" depravity would help serve the Nazi cause.

Hugo Jaeger -- The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

A crematorium

Whatever the reasons for Jaeger's 1950 visit to Dachau -- which opened exactly 80 years ago, on March 22, 1933 -- the photographs he made of the decaying, sunlit place feel at-once banal and vaguely obscene, and teeming with restless, invisible, unappeased ghosts. See all the pictures in the full gallery at Life.com.

Hugo Jaeger -- The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Ghosts in the sun: Hitler’s personal photographer at Dachau, 1950

A series of photographs at the Nazi concentration camp Dachau document a decaying, sunlit place full of bad memories and restless ghosts. See the full gallery at Life.com.

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