By Anne Fuchs (auth.)
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Extra info for After the Dresden Bombing: Pathways of Memory, 1945 to the Present
These cities appeared as bizarre post-historical landscapes with craters, geometrical ruins and empty streets that looked like dead arteries devoid of life. This view from above excluded any representation of the loss of life caused by the bombing campaign that would have jeopardised the interpretive framework of a just war. However, the representation of bombed city centres implicitly risked producing an undesirable interest in the fate of the cities’ inhabitants. ’25 Likewise, in her book Dear Fatherland Rest Quietly, Bourke-White included a range of aerial rubble photographs that featured the bombed industrial centres and transport nodes that had been instrumental for Germany’s war effort, before offering pictures of the ruined city centres of Bremen, Nuremberg, Würzburg, Cologne and other towns and cities.
In order to study the trajectories and mutations of this narrative I have selected a range of poignant examples that elucidate the intramedial and intermedial dynamics at play. Of course there are countless other examples. Undoubtedly subjective, my selection aims to trace the persistence of memory through a cultural symbolism that has been annotated, elaborated, revised and refuted through diverse media and genres. While genres and media thus play a prominent role in this study, the book is ultimately motivated by something else: it was above all the vast discrepancy between historical arguments, on the one hand, and the experience of the excess of the Real as a signature of twentiethcentury history, on the other, that has prompted me to write this study.
Courtesy of Deutsche Fotothek Dresden exceed the question of historical cause and effect. It is precisely the beautiful dimension of the dreadful wreckage of history that produces an allegorical and transhistorical effect. In this way the book fosters an alliance between the beautiful and the melancholic that can be tipped either way: while, as I argue below, for the postwar German audience the melancholic register prevailed, the more distanced viewer can more easily focus on the aesthetic appeal of the wreckage photography.