By Anne Fuchs (auth.)
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Extra resources for After the Dresden Bombing: Pathways of Memory, 1945 to the Present
The high print-run to this day suggests that it was the central section with its photographs of ruination that provided postwar Germans with an iconic narrative that allowed them to contemplate and mourn a collective loss. The sheer number of images of destruction communicated the idea of an apocalyptic excess that exceeds cognitive assimilation and outweighed the socialist message. 41 So what is so special about this picture? Iconographically, the panoramic representation from a raised position evokes the idea of unbounded apocalyptic excess.
8 Designed to provide indisputable historical evidence, these photographs transmuted the historical into a universally readable icon of a new depth of human depravity. According to Cornelia Brink, who has written a compelling study on the subject, the emotional impact of these secular icons derives from their association with authenticity, their representation of reality as a symbol, their canonisation and, finally, the double move of showing the suffering, while simultaneously veiling it. 9 Susan Sontag, an extreme sceptic of photography, summarises the problems produced by an aesthetic of shock as follows: The problem is not that people remember through photographs, but that they remember only the photographs.
The reader is invited to discover my own myopia alongside insights into the enduring power of impact narratives. 2 Visual Mediations: Dresden in Postwar Photography and Fine Art Shooting the end of the war: Germany’s ruination in Allied photography Reflecting early in 1945 on Europe’s ruination during the war, the lead writer of The Irish Times paints the bleak picture of a postwar tourist, travelling through a landscape of destruction. The violence of total war has reduced much of Europe’s rich cultural heritage to a desolate pile of rubble: Dresden itself, one of the loveliest cities in Europe, is said to have been shattered.