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Through Amateur Eyes: Film and Photography in Nazi Germanyby Frances Guerin
Synopses & Reviews
We have seen the films of professionals and propagandists celebrate Adolf Hitler, his SS henchmen, and the Nazi Party. But what of the documentary films and photographs of amateurs, soldiers, and others involved in the war effort who were simply going about their lives amid death and destruction? And what of the films and photographs that want us to believe there was no death and destruction? This book asks how such images have shaped our memories and our memorialization of World War II and the Holocaust. Frances Guerin considers the implications of amateur films and photographs taken by soldiers, bystanders, resistance workers, and others in Nazi Germany.
Her book explores how photographs taken by soldiers and bystanders on the Eastern Front, depictions of everyday life in the Lódz ghetto, and home movies and family albums of Hitler’s mistress Eva Braun, among others, can challenge the conventional idea that such images reflect Nazi ideology because they are taken by perpetrators and sympathizers. Through Amateur Eyes upsets our expectations and demonstrates how these images can be understood as chillingly unrehearsed images of war, trauma, and loss.
Many of these images have been reused—often unacknowledged—in contemporary narratives memorializing World War II: museum exhibitions, made-for-television documentaries, documentary films, and the Internet. Guerin shows how modern uses of these images often reinforce well-rehearsed narratives of cultural memory. She offers a critical new perspective on how we can incorporate such still and moving images into processes of witnessing the traumas of the past in the present moment.
Book News Annotation:
Guerin (film studies, University of Kent, England) analyzes photos and films, many published here for the first time, taken by German soldiers, officers, civilians, and resistance workers in Germany during the Nazi era, 1938 to 1944. Some are battlefield photos, while others show civilian life, such as the documentary photos of Walter Genewein, the chief accountant of the Lodz Ghetto. Of particular interest is a set of photos and home movies taken by Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress, with a discussion of the author's discovery of the Braun images in the National Archives in Maryland. An opening chapter offers ideas on viewing and interpreting amateur images. The book includes a wealth of b&w historical photos from archives and personal collections. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A history of rare archival amateur photographs and films from Nazi Germany
About the Author
Frances Guerin is lecturer of film studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury. She is the author of A Culture of Light: Cinema and Technology in 1920s Germany (Minnesota, 2005) and coeditor of The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory, and Visual Culture.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Alternate Perspectives from Nazi Germany
1. Witnessing from a Distance, Remembering from Afar: How to See Amateur Images
2. On the Eastern Front with the German Army
3. The Privilege and Possibility of Color: The Case of Walter Genewein’s Photographs
4. Europe at War in Color and Motion
5. At Home, at Play, on Vacation with Eva Braun: From the Berghof to YouTube and the
Imperative to Remember
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