The Capricious Camera

analytical Essay
2721 words
2721 words

The Capricious Camera

In the years between 1933 and 1945, Germany was engulfed by the rise of a powerful new regime and the eventual spoils of war. During this period, Hitler's quest for racial purification turned Germany not only at odds with itself, but with the rest of the world. Photography as an art and as a business became a regulated and potent force in the fight for Aryan domination, Nazi influence, and anti-Semitism. Whether such images were used to promote Nazi ideology, document the Holocaust, or scare Germany's citizens into accepting their own changing country, the effect of this photography provides enormous insight into the true stories and lives of the people most affected by Hitler's racism. In fact, this photography has become so widespread in our understanding and teaching of the Holocaust that often other factors involved in the Nazi's racial policy have been undervalued in our history textbooks-especially the attempt by Nazi Germany to establish the Nordic Aryans as a master race through the Lebensborn experiment, a breeding and adoption program designed to eliminate racial imperfections.

This other side of the story, so to speak, is evident in Nazi photography, but is not easily accessible or even immediately apparent to viewers. The photograph Mounted Nazi Troops on the Lookout for Likely Polish Children would not be so shocking or historically suggestive without the caption to describe its significance. Who is this young white girl surrounded by armed soldiers? Is she being protected, watched, persecuted? It would be easy enough to assume that she is Jewish, but unlike photos documenting the Holocaust, with this image the intent is uncertain. In our general ignorance of the events surrounding th...

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...saw the image as artistic, subsequent events compel us to try and see the image of the Polish girl with Nazis as journalism. In this endeavor, we must uncover as much as possible about the surrounding context. As much as we can, we need to know this girl's particular story. Without a name, date, place, or relevant data, this girl would fall even further backwards into the chapters of unrecorded history.

Works Cited

"Mounted Nazi Troops on the Lookout for Likely Polish Children." Clay and Leapman.

Clay, Catrine and Michael Leapman. Master Race: The Lebensborn Experiment in Nazi Germany. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1995.

Milton, Sybil. "The Camera as Weapon: Documentary Photography and the Holocaust." Multimedia Learning Center ­ Museum of Tolerance. The Simon Wiesenthal Center. 1999<http:// annual1/chap03.html>.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how milton recognizes the possibility that the photograph was taken by a soldier seeking to document the work in poland for his own interests.
  • Analyzes how clay and leapman's book, master race, focuses on the concept of racial purification.
  • Analyzes how hitler's quest for racial purification turned germany at odds with itself and the rest of the world.
  • Analyzes how eugenics improved humankind by eliminating undesirable genetic traits and breeding those that were considered superior.
  • Analyzes how the image of the polish girl with nazis was interesting, but ambiguous. labeling two figures who appeared unrelated changed the mood, intent, subject, and purpose.
  • Explains clay, catrine, and michael leapman's master race: the lebensborn experiment in nazi germany. milton, sybil. the camera as weapon: documentary photography and the holocaust.
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