Germany, a Case of Urgency?
Germany, A Case of Urgency?
Entitled The Exotic Country, The German Historical Museum of Berlin is holding an exhibition showing some of the works of Stefan Moses, the German press photographer who passed away in 2018. He had said, “Germany is just as exotic as Afghanistan or Paraguay for me.” One is struck by the satisfaction that emerges from the portrait of these three women, withdrawn into themselves, each in their hairdressing helmets. Does exoticism lie in this deaf-and-mute well-being in the backdrop of an economic miracle, a few years after what in Germany is officially called a “rupture of civilization”?
In a lecture given at the 34th IPA Congress in June 1985, Anita Eckstaedt, a German psychoanalyst, noted that it took two generations – that is to say, forty years – after the end of the war for speech concerning ancestors involved in National Socialism to come to the couch. This implies that the perceptible satisfaction in the photo of the hairdressing salon – taken in the 50’s or 60’s – is the opposite of that which is obtained at the end of an analysis; on the contrary, it bears witness to the repression at work.
Would the German Historical Museum wish to emphasize, by the choice of this photo, the Unheimlichkeit or uncanniness of prosperity on a backdrop of muteness, or even to suggest the persistence of this impression beyond the accomplished work of the obligation to remember? This image expresses the instant of the call to speak up, and it is this that makes it current and relevant. Germany remains this “urgent case” which is waiting until opulence is finally dissociated from the silenced thing, without being able to ask for it. It is a disjunction that could eventually allow for the good economic health of the country being perceived otherwise, and not as a threat.
Translation: Arunava Banerjee
1 “Two complementary cases of the identifying destinies of children of the fathers of the 3rd Reich”, in Nationalsozialismus in der zweiten Generation, Suhrkamp Verlag, 1989, p. 137.