Fascism and the Photograph: Dimitrios Monette

Upon completing this weeks reading upon the correlation of fascism and photography with a specific focus on the Nazi regimes use of the technology, I found myself largely agreeing with the pieces content for the first time in mass with the addition of a small observation. That single observation is that while yes, Nazism and totalitarianism have made use of photography to further their own goals and workings, so has literally every other ideology imaginable. We have seen great pictures of Soviet Russian columns of men and tanks, of women snipers and pilots. We have viewed photos of men in DCU camouflage and American flags standing beneath Saddam’s crossed swords in Baghdad.  We have seen and will continue to see the world the way the photographer wished it to be seen, no matter who is right or wrong, who is totalistic or liberty driven, and who is good or bad. The author even points out that the small men on the ground are capable of changing the outlook a view has on the conflict by way of a personal camera and personal anecdote “The same soldier’s album then documents his service on the Eastern Front in 1941 and 1942, before he was killed in battle in the Soviet Union. The mood changes significantly: photos of German war dead and makeshift graves abound, with captions underscoring a sense of melancholy and mourning, including occasional expressions of doubt, such as “Why all this bloodshed?,” and farewell messages to fallen comrades. The way the landscape is captured changes accordingly. Germans are now depicted acting in a featureless, muddy desert…” (326).  The photographer manufactures the feeling we discover within the snapshot by way of posing angle or even descriptor on the bottom or back of a photo. We have little to go off of but what we have been given, not too much unlike a totalitarian mentality. Despite this though, the German Reich of the Nazi regime certainly has a knack for such work unlike all others,  yet to call it inclusively fascist is not exact. The writer points it out best “Images, the recent historiography on “spectacle” has argued, were central to the success of fascism. Yet, the same images also lent themselves to the fashioning of more individual identities, as well as to the telling of stories that deviated from official propaganda narratives” (365).

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