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Through Amateur Eyes

Through Amateur Eyes: Film and Photography in Nazi Germany

Frances Guerin
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Through Amateur Eyes
    Book Description:

    Frances Guerin asks how the documentary films and photographs of amateurs, soldiers, and bystanders shape our memories of World War II and the Holocaust. Guerin shows how modern uses of these images often reinforce well-rehearsed narratives of cultural memory, offering a critical perspective on how we can incorporate such images into processes of witnessing the traumas of the past in the present.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7853-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Alternate Perspectives from Nazi Germany
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    In his bold intervention into the controversy surrounding the “War of Extermination” on the Eastern Front, and particularly the participation of the Wehrmacht and its soldiers in this war, Bernd Hüppauf calls for new ways of looking at the photographs taken by soldiers and officers present to the crimes committed in the name of Nazism. Time and again, amateur images taken by German officers and soldiers on the Eastern Front in the death camps and the ghettos, and on the roads in between, have been understood in terms of their visual instantiation of Nazi ideology and, in particular, their virulent...

  5. 1 Witnessing from a Distance, Remembering from Afar: How to See Amateur Images
    (pp. 1-36)

    Until the past ten years, the films and photographs I discuss in these pages have been more or less ignored—forgotten or rendered inconsequential or invalid—in the ongoing urge to write the history of World War II and the Holocaust. Not only were they taken by “German perpetrators”; more important, many were not known to exist until recently. Either the works had lain dormant in public archives or they had been stowed away in attics, gathering dust, until their owners passed away and their families discovered them stored among other personal items. On the few occasions when the images...

  6. 2 On the Eastern Front with the German Army
    (pp. 37-92)

    The hundreds of thousands of photographs taken on the Eastern Front include some of the most difficult of the World War II visual documents for the historian to reckon with. They are difficult for a number of reasons, most significantly for the disturbing nature of what is photographed. Unlike many of the other images I discuss in this book, the photographs taken on the Eastern Front, often by soldiers and officers, are replete with the worst kinds of violence, with no attempt made to veil or displace it: the images depict cold-blooded murder, ditches filled with corpses, lynchings in process,...

  7. 3 The Privilege and Possibility of Color: The Case of Walter Genewein’s Photographs
    (pp. 93-158)

    Some of the most extraordinary photographs from World War II were those taken in color. These images are remarkable because the technology used to produce and process color-transparency film stock was in its infancy in the late 1930s. Due to this innovation, together with beliefs regarding the potency of its representational qualities, the Nazis were keen to explore the color photograph as a weapon of domination. According to the Ministry of Propaganda, color photography had the potential to sway the masses emotionally and thus open people’s imaginations to political persuasion.¹ This said, however, its use was rare because the results...

  8. 4 Europe at War in Color and Motion
    (pp. 159-216)

    The camera pans across a snow-topped mountain range in central Europe, a man rows his boat with a child on a lake, there are mountains in the distance, and a doubles tennis match is being played on a glorious summer’s day. These images depict a picture-perfect scene. A train pulls into the central station in Warsaw, and the city’s pre–World War II skyline is the object of the camera’s fascination. A gleaming white rocket punctures the crisp blue sky. The skyline of Warsaw aside, these and other images could have been taken anywhere in pre–World War II Europe....

  9. 5 At Home, at Play, on Vacation with Eva Braun: From the Berghof to YouTube and the Imperative to Remember
    (pp. 217-286)

    Of all the photographs and films discussed inThrough Amateur Eyes, those attributed to Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun, come closest to traditional notions of family photos and home movies. The films are conventionally conceived home movies that depict the daily life of Braun and her family and friends, at home in Munich; on vacation in Italy, Norway, and Denmark; and at the places where she shared her life with Adolf Hitler: the Berghof, in Berchtesgaden, and at Kehlstein—a teahouse twenty minutes’ walk through the natural landscape from the Berghof. Her photograph albums are characteristic of those found in family...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 287-328)
  11. Index
    (pp. 329-342)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 343-343)
  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)