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Keynote Lecture: Creating Realities? On the Varieties of SS Photography and the Visual Construction of the Nazi Camp System


1 Mar 2024, 5:15pm


Holocaust Centre North



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Our visual representation of the Nazi concentration camps, but also of other crime sites such as the extermination centers of “Aktion Reinhard(t)” and thus of the Holocaust, is shaped by photographs of SS, police, and Wehrmacht. It is not photographs of the victims, but of the perpetrators that primarily determine the perception, visual language, and the selection of what is seen. But do they create an image of some kind of camp reality? Or are they not rather constructions, stagings, and caricatures? The lecture sheds light on the different times, spaces, and varieties of SS photography from 1933 to 1945. At the center of the lecture, which is based on the analysis of several thousand photos, are the visual narratives and agents of private and official SS photography. Ultimately, the lecture contextualizes the transformation of camp photography and the multiple conceptions of Holocaust imagery.

Dr Stefan Hördler is Lecturer at the University of Göttingen and Visiting Professor at the University of Huddersfield. Previously he worked at universities and research institutes in Germany, Austria, and the United States. Hördler is the author and co-editor of numerous international publications and prize-winning books. In one of his most recent publications, he explores together with Tal Bruttmann and Christoph Kreutzmüller Lili Jacob’s Auschwitz album. Hördler is member of several international academic advisory boards. For the past decade, he serves as expert consultant in various international investigations against former Nazi camp personnel. His current project examines the industrial transformation and deindustrialization since the 1970s.