Copyright © Central European History Society of the American Historical Association 2015. This article explores the significance of photography and photo-album making as practices that many Germans used to record their lives during the Third Reich. Millions of photos not only offer insights into everyday life under National Socialism: mass photography itself had a transformative effect, turning seemingly mundane actions into performances for the camera and into conscious acts of self-representation. The article also considers the relationship between amateur snapshots, on the one hand, and propagandistic and commercial photographs, on the other. Identifying connections between the genres, it argues that these are best understood as two-way processes of borrowing and (re-)appropriation, in which private subjectivity and public ideology constantly commingled. Particularly important in linking the two were photos of emotional or affective states, such as relaxation, exploration, introspection, and even melancholy, which were often defined or underscored by the ways in which both civilians and soldiers positioned themselves in relation to particular landscapes. The photographic archival record is highly varied, but such variation notwithstanding, photos helped cement immersive experience as the basis for individual and collective identity; this was central to the ideology of the National Socialist regime, even if it never wholly controlled its meanings.
Umbach, M. (2015). Selfhood, Place, and Ideology in German Photo Albums, 1933-1945. Central European History, 48(3), 335-365. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0008938915000783