|Product Details |
Harry N Abrams
From Publishers Weekly
Five years ago, Eller, a German artist and editor, received a treasure trove: some 500 snapshots taken by his great-uncle, Willi Rose, a veteran of World War II. In this volume, Eller reproduces 200 of these photographs, and at first glance they present an eloquent visual testimony of Rose's wartime experiences. Or do they? A closer look reveals that although Rose had an eye, his pictures feel strangely detached and anonymous. The photographs of Dunkirk, for example, suggest that it is interesting to ponder the massive British retreat from the victor's point of view, but the pictures of smiling German soldiers at the beach add little to our understanding of the war or the photographer. Similarly, an upended locomotive is presented as if the destruction itself is what caught Mr. Rose's eye, and not the human cost. One wonders, then, why Rose photographed a dead Soviet soldier with his legs still clinging to the flanks of his dead horse. Was it sympathy? Pride? Or merely the bizarre coincidence of the pose? Only one sentence in the acknowledgments hints at Rose's own personality, when Eller writes that his great-uncle's "vision, and not his morality, is the foundation for this book." But can the "morality" of those who fought for Nazism be so easily put aside? Much of the text, in fact, will leave the reader with discomfiting questions. Petra Bopp's essay on Nazi-era photography is informative, but she also juxtaposes Rose's picture of barbed wire with art about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict-a strained, and in this context, perhaps offensive comparison. All in all, Rose's unexceptional work seems to do little more than to confirm Hannah Arendt's well-worn report on the banality of evil.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Shadows of War presents an astonishing collection of previously unpublished, unknown photographs of life at the front lines in the German war machine during World War II, taken by a common foot soldier. The work of a gifted amateur, Willi Rose's images present a powerful vision of a largely suppressed aspect of the war. These fractured glimpses of the world at war-from quotidian tasks and moments of leisure to scenes of death and destruction-reveal one man's experience of the epic flow of history.
A miller in the years before World War II, Rose was drafted into the German army in October 1939 and served as a motorbike messenger on the front, first in France and then in Russia. He was wounded twice and was later captured by the Polish army, eventually returning home in June 1946. Throughout his military service, Rose sent home photographs that he took of the action, mostly along the Eastern Front. Discovered by his widow after his death, these images form a unique photographic document of one soldier's war. AUTHOR BIO: Thomas Eller, an artist based in Berlin, is Willi Rose's great-nephew. Petra Bopp is an art historian and a professor at the University of Hamburg, Germany.
About the Author
Thomas Eller, an artist based in Berlin, is Willi Rose's great-nephew. Petra Bopp is an art historian and a professor at the University of Hamburg, Germany.