6/22/10

Nazi's Enjoy Paris

Scrapbooks are often thought of as being receptacles for family photographs- images of domestic life and travel. Many do not realize that historic albums were also used in much broader terms. As a story telling device, albums recorded anything from the development of a mining town, the arts and crafts of exotic cultures, to the documentation of amputations from wartime injuries. The Burns Archive houses hundreds of albums. The main portion of The Archive’s album collection are of military affairs. These documents recite the experiences of being in service and in combat from a personal perspective.

Posted today is an album compiled by a Nazi soldier depicting the leisure time spent during his training for the German Army prior to World War II and his deployment to Paris after France was conquered in May, 1940. One of the topics under study by scholars today is the attitude of the German conquerors toward France. Some believe they behaved as ‘tourists,’ enjoying the country and respecting it’s treasures. This album appears to be one that supports that theory.

The immaculate care taken in the creation of this book shows the seriousness in which the author took in chronicling his travels. The thoroughness of his documentation of the ‘in-between moments’ reads cinematically as if stills from a film. The photographic composition and sense of light, along with the meticulousness of the inscriptions makes this piece an exemplary document. Another layer to this story is the unsettling juxtaposition created by imagining Nazi troops from a humanistic perspective. It is easier to justify the atrocities of the Holocaust as being carried out by staunch militants. Here we see how the funds accumulated by Hitler’s regime were spent on accommodations and recreation. The troops depicted appear to enjoy common activities- the simple joys of going to the zoo and seeing a play. It also shows the author as a creative individual.

Against general military rules of the conduct of war, Hitler’s confidence in victory allowed his soldiers to go into battle and in occupied areas with their personal cameras. The photographs, if captured, would identify the military units and their position, a much desired item of intelligence for the opposing side. The albums the combatants created are vivid documents of war, conquest, and also- leisure time. Some of the albums provide irrefutable evidence of the crimes of the Wehrmacht. Others show the human side of the German soldier.



© 2010 The Burns Archive
"In Sauleng. D. Klosterkirche" (Monestary)



© 2010 The Burns Archive
Waxing the Floor



© 2010 The Burns Archive
Troops in Naumburg


© 2010 The Burns Archive
Accommodations in Dinant


© 2010 The Burns Archive
School Hall


© 2010 The Burns Archive
Lieutenant Grassmann


© 2010 The Burns Archive
Class


© 2010 The Burns Archive
Heading Off to Paris


© 2010 The Burns Archive
"The two Müllers"

Below, note the author's reflection in the banquet hall mirror.

© 2010 The Burns Archive
"Our.... Speaks to His People"
The "High"



© 2010 The Burns Archive
In The Front Theater in Paris- Choir- The Faithless Widow


© 2010 The Burns Archive
The Zoo in Paris


© 2010 The Burns Archive
The Soldiers Home, Mantes


© 2010 The Burns Archive
The Dining Hall


© 2010 The Burns Archive
Eiffel Tower "In Mirror Image" "On the Roof of the Post"


© 2010 The Burns Archive
Arc de Triomphe- At Beginning of Champs Élysées


© 2010 The Burns Archive
German Soldiers at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Under Arc de Triomphe


© 2010 The Burns Archive
H. Müller, The Train to Mantes

1 comment:

  1. German privates were no 'Nazis'


    the head line of this blog post is plainly defamatory. These were no 'Nazis' or Nazis soldiers, They were just poor young fellows conscripted to the Army forced into fighting a war they neither willed nor understood.

    Do you in all sincerity assert that the common Wehrmacht soldiers was a ' Nazi' committing atrocities? Don't you no the difference between the SS-Divisions and the common soldiers who just were abused as cannon fodder?

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