Focus material and methods

Evelyn Kreutzer on Eva Braun’s home movies:
Eva Braun’s home movies, mostly shot in color, are among the most frequently used and recognizable perpetrator films from the Nazi era. The films document the leisure and travel activities of Braun, her family and friends, and the domestic lives of Hitler and a number of prominent figures from his immediate circle in the Bavarian mountains. Excerpts from the films have most commonly been used to depict and illustrate Hitler as a private man, as well as the mysterious relationship between Hitler and Braun. The footage shows an uncanny, seemingly parallel, world, unaffected by the horrific realities of the war and the Holocaust. I research the material along three main questions: first, which excerpts from the over 5 hours of film have been quoted most and least frequently, and which analytical frameworks do these insights generate? Second, how are quotations of the footage manipulated, aestheticized, re- or de-contextualized? Third, which iconographic, filmic, and mnemonic legacies does the original footage draw on itself? In this I rely heavily on videographic methods to analyze, compare, challenge, and reflect on the significance of the Eva Braun films in the context of the larger project.

Noga Stiassny on the Wochenschau material of the April 1st Boycott (1933):
The Wochenschau’s material showing the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses enacted in Berlin on April 1st, 1933, has been widely circulated over the years; it has been edited into documentaries and re-enacted in feature films, depicted in graphic and visual artworks, in computer games, and in historical exhibitions in memorial museums. Functioning as a visual marker of the beginning of the (pre-Holocaust) Nazi persecution of European Jews, and German Jews in particular, the Wochenschau’s material is frequently used in sequence with footage from the Book Burning event that took place in Berlin on May 10, 1933 and the (so-called) ‘November pogrom’, also known as Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938). However, while the events depicted in the April 1st Boycott footage are well-known among the scholarly community and the public alike, little has been done to directly test the ‘travelling’ process through which the material became culturally iconic, especially given its status as propaganda footage with a unique performative quality. With this in mind, my research seeks to look at this footage from a perspective that acknowledges its ‘performativeness’; in my view, such a perspective has the potential to open up new spaces in which to think about Nazi propaganda footage, and the afterlife of such ‘(con)sequential images’. This research method design is informed by my training as an art historian and memory studies scholar, and by my motivation to experiment with new methods of visualising – and preforming – the research process and its outcomes.

Chris Wahl on Triumph of the Will:
Triumph of the Will has probably been re-used more often than any other production in film history. Its influence on our imagination of National Socialism is still essential. But although a lot has been written on Leni Riefenstahl’s work, this aspect of its function in memory culture has never gained much attention. My subproject aims at fulfilling this desideratum by reconstructing the material history of the film as well as the history of its appropriation: Is there such a thing as an original version? Which other versions exist and which copies were the basis of most reuses? Since the end of the 1930s, Triumph of the Will has been considered a cornucopia of images and sounds open to exploitation for a wide range of purposes: Which shots of the film were the most appealing? What is the relationship between individual recontextualizations and the development of memory and media culture? I will also try to trace (as far as possible), on which occasions the film has been shown (including considerations of various copyright issues) and to put into perspective the plethora of journalistic and academic studies and remarks issued since production began. Last but not least, I will examine the film itself once again because a frame-by-frame analysis with digital tools and fresh eyes should foster new insights into some of the visual compositions and also into some instances of rather unintentional documentation. Part of this will be a comparison with stylistic forerunners or models. In order to adequately convey findings on artistic and forensic matters, a video essay shall accompany the publication of a monography.