Thursday, April 5, 2007
Help Me Howard: Nazi Photos
If you take pictures, you have them developed. But what would you do if the pictures you picked up were not what you turned in? In fact, to you the pictures were disgusting and dangerous. Do you have the right to know what is going on? Strange story -- and here are some answers from Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- You don't have to walk far into Susan's home to see how she feels about her grandchildren.
Susan Shullman: "That's my little Cassidy. She just turned five. Love them, just the most important thing in my life."
And the birth of her newest grandson gave Susan an idea.
Susan Shullman: "I was putting together my grandmother's brag book with the intent of taking it up there to show to people I know."
She e-mailed two batches of kids photos to her local drugstore to get developed. A few days later she brought them home, opened the first envelope and started smiling.
Susan Shullman: "Then I went to get the second batch of pictures, and, when I opened them up, I found pictures of war criminals involved in hate crimes. All the Nazi pictures."
The envelope that was supposed to be of her grandchildren instead had Adolph Hitler with a Catholic archbishop, Hitler's brutal right-hand man Hermann Goering, a half dozen of his loyal generals and then a picture of his German army.
Susan Shullman: "Why anybody would want a picture like this just blows me away."
Patrick Fraser: "What's it like to open an envelope expecting to see a smiling baby's face and instead seeing Adolph Hitler's face?"
Susan Shullman: "It was horrible. I mean -- I just burst into tears."
Understand that Susan is Jewish. The pictures bothered her, but, more troubling to her, the person who took in Nazi photos to get developed possibly took home pictures of her grandchildren.
Susan Shullman: "I believe that one of the pictures was on Hanukkah and lighting the Menorah, and that would identity them as Jewish children."
When Susan called the store to complain they told her, "Don't worry," that they never got her second batch of 15 pictures. But she thinks they did because ...
Susan Shullman: "They had the envelope with my name that came over the Internet that there were 15 pictures, so I know that they got them."
As for the Nazi photos, the store told her she needed to return them.
But Susan was not in a cooperative mode, not wanting to help the owner of the pictures.
Susan Shullman: "I don't know why anybody would want pictures like this -- unless they were in some organization or some Jew-hating situation -- and it just kind of scares me."
Scares her enough to want some answers.
Susan Shullman: "I would like an investigation and to be clear that this person is not somebody that is going to be harmful to myself or my family."
But does she have a right to know who owns these pictures and now may have pictures like this?
Howard Finkelstein: "No she does not. All right thinking people are offended by Nazis and what they did, but, legally, you can print their pictures all you want, and, legally, the store has a right to refuse to tell Susan whom those photos belong to. On the other hand, they are legally required to return her photos to her."
When I spoke to Walgreens, they told me, "We are very sorry this happened," that, "We have no reason to believe the owner of the Nazi photos has the pictures of Susan's grandchildren;" that, "We cannot find Susan's photos and do not know who owns the Nazi photos."
They did offer to develop the pictures of her grandchildren for free and offered Susan a gift certificate, and, when it comes to lost pictures, the damage is limited.
Howard Finkelstein: "Susan hasn't lost her pictures, but she has the original disc. If a store loses your negatives, unfortunately, they are only liable for the cost of new film. Any emotional stress they may cause you is not covered."
Susan, of course, is still surprised by the whole thing; she thought her pictures would be heartwarming and instead turned out to be eye-opening.
Howard Finkelstein: "And knowing that today, in 2007, that someone is collecting Hitler's pictures and pictures of swastikas. You're told that it exists, but now I can see myself it does exist, and it's very, very upsetting."
Patrick Fraser: "Of course, these pictures could be just a kid putting together a class project, but, the drug store says, the owner never complained when they didn't get their pictures. As for your rights to privacy, when you take pictures in to be developed they cannot be reprinted or used for any other purposes. But, if the person developing them sees pictures that are illegal -- for example child pornography -- they will and should call the cops. Pictures of Nazis are not illegal."
Developed a problem that is clearly unsolvable? Don't be negative, drop it off with us, and, hopefully, you will be able to picture yourself smiling in satisfaction.
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