Germany 1945

Germany 1945

Views of War and Violence
Dagmar Barnouw
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 08/28/2008
Format: Paperback 128 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-22043-1
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1997 Golden Light Award: Photographic Book of the Year

Packed with carefully chosen photos of the concentration camps, German exiles, the war-injured, children, and bombed-out cities, this book is a moving reminder of the material and moral devastation left behind by Nazi Germany." —Rudy Koshar, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Demonstrates how perspective plays a key role, not only in photography, but in questions of mastering Germany's past as well. [I]nnovative and fascinating." —Robert C. Holub, University of California–Berkeley

After half a century, Germany's coming to terms with Nazism remains a subject of debate. This investigation of the photographic record shows that such debates have overlooked the actual conditions in which postwar German memory was first forged.

The Allied forces that entered Germany at the close of World War II were looking for remorse and open admissions of guilt from the Germans. Instead, they "saw" arrogance, servility, and a population thoroughly brainwashed by Nazis. But photos from the period tell a more complex story. In fact, Dagmar Barnouw argues that postwar Allied and German photography holds many possible clues for understanding the recent German past. A significant addition to the scholarship on postwar German culture and political identity, this book makes an important contribution to the current discussion of German memory.

Author Bio

D.B. is Professor of German and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California, and author of Weimar Intellectuals and the Threat of Modernity (Indiana University Press, 1988), Visible Spaces: Hannah Arendt and the German-Jewish Experience (1990), Critical Realism: History, Photography, and the Work of Siegfried Kracauer (1994), Germany 1945 Views of War and Violence (Indiana University Press, 1997, Naipaul's Strangers (Indiana University Press, 2003) and other books of cultural criticism.


“A fascinating photo essay on different perspectives of war-torn Germany in Allied and German photography and reportage. "Resist the impulse to 'historicize' the Holocaust . . . and you run the danger of sacralizing it. Barnouw's effort to grapple with these dilemmas is provocative, brilliant, and unsettling." —Washington Times”

“Resist the impulse to 'historicize' the Holocaust . . . and you run the danger of sacralizing it. Barnouw's effort to grapple with these dilemmas is provocative, brilliant, and unsettling.”
 — Washington Times

“Germany 1945 is best seen as a contribution to [the] debate . . . about the uniqueness or otherwise of Nazi crimes, and the related questions of collective responsibility for those crimes, and the need to go on remembering them.”
 — Times Literary Supplement

“[Barnouw's] work shows that perspective plays a key role both in photography and in trying to master Germany's past. [F]ascinating.”
 — Library Journal

“Germany 1945 contributes a vigorous voice to the expanding chorus of scholars who have called for increased examination of the immediate postwar years. July, 2009”
 — H-NET Reviews Humanities & Social Sciences

“[Barnouw's] thoughtful analysis of a large assortment of photographs . . . allows Barnouw to look at how and not just what people saw, and to bring that perspective into conversation with the historical debates about the war's end in Germany. ”
 — Journal of Contemporary History

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Views of War and Violence
1. Views of the Past: Memory and Historical Evidence
2. To Make Them See: Photography, Identification, and Identity
3. The Quality of Citory and the "German Question": The Signal Corps Photography Album and Life Photo-Essays
4. What They Saw: Germany 1945 and Allied Photographers
5. Words and Images: German Questions