Frances Guerin


On her book Through Amateur Eyes: Film and Photography in Nazi Germany

Cover Interview of May 13, 2012


My wishes with regard to the book’s implications?  I would be happy if Through Amateur Eyes is able to reinforce the importance of looking and looking again, always through different eyes at this troubled period in twentieth century history.

The consequences and implications of the Holocaust are still with us today, and we must continue to learn from the mistakes we made. I say “we,” because this is a history that effects all of us, a history for which, as Alain Resnais told us in 1955 in Night and Fog, we are all responsible.

We need to look at this period from every possible perspective, through every lens that offers itself to us. Germans were often the ones who had access to cameras to take both still and moving images during World War II, and we can’t afford to discount these images from our narratives of remembrance because they are taken by Germans.  On the contrary, because these images exist, we must take them seriously. It is no longer viable to make the argument that because the images are taken by Germans they don’t tell the truth, that they are so overwhelmed by Nazi ideology that we cannot turn to them for insight.

We live in an era when it is accepted that there is no single truth, no single perspective of any event. And so we have to trust that, even if the images tell us no more than what the Germans were looking at, what they were thinking at the time, we need to see and to know what they saw and thought.