By Anne Fuchs (auth.)
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Additional info for After the Dresden Bombing: Pathways of Memory, 1945 to the Present
Eine Kamera klagt an (Dresdener Verlagsgesellschaft 1949). Courtesy of Deutsche Fotothek Dresden exceed the question of historical cause and effect. It is precisely the beautiful dimension of the dreadful wreckage of history that produces an allegorical and transhistorical effect. In this way the book fosters an alliance between the beautiful and the melancholic that can be tipped either way: while, as I argue below, for the postwar German audience the melancholic register prevailed, the more distanced viewer can more easily focus on the aesthetic appeal of the wreckage photography.
As we will see, German photographers responded to the victor’s iconography by way of an alternative narrative that fostered a melancholy reading of history. Icons of Germany’s depravity Images of Germany’s moral and physical ruination came into quick circulation after the end of the war. Allied photographers accompanying the troops documented the liberation of the concentration camps in shocking images that were quickly circulated across the globe. A new level of explicitness was achieved through these photographs.
As we turn the page, the book exploits the shock effect of an aesthetic of terror: a photo on the left-hand side represents the city’s Baroque splendour from a point of view that imitates Canaletto’s painting of the famous Dresden panorama (Figure 3). This is juxtaposed with a topdown panoramic view across the city as a site of apocalyptic destruction, which appears to be displayed to us by an allegorical figure in the foreground on the right half of the picture (Figure 4). The stark contrast of architectural splendour with total ruination produces an apocalyptic effect that erases human agency: it is as if we are studying these ruins after the city’s and our own death.
After the Dresden Bombing: Pathways of Memory, 1945 to the Present by Anne Fuchs (auth.)
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