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Thursday, 05 June 2008


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As one of Jewish faith I take extreme exception to calling Nazis "fun-loving." We all know how they took their "fun." Please delete this book and the comments from this article. Thank you.

It appears that any mention of the word "Nazi" will lead to controversy.

I would like to know if Mr John Brewton has actually looked at the mentioned photo book before requesting the mention of it be removed from Martin Parr's article.

Yes, history tells us that the Nazi regime committed terrible atrocities. Nevertheless, I suspect that Prus and Jones didn't have the intention of compiling a book of Nazi propaganda. All armed forces are composed of regular people from all walks of life being ordered around, and I don't think the German army at the time was any different. I think it's important that works such as the one mentioned are important ones in adding some historical insight (just like any other journalistic work).

On the "fun-loving Nazi" question -- the point of this book isn't that Nazis were okay and lovable. This kind of thing points toward the juxtaposition of great evil and banality. I haven't seen this book, but I've seen similar snapshots recovered from Auschwitz and displayed by the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum (excerpts are on-line at the NY Times website). The photos depict the Nazi SS officers having picnics, playing with dogs, lighting Christmas tree lights -- having fun. The Holocaust Museum certainly didn't display these to celebrate Nazis, but to point to the banality of evil.

As has often been noted, if we all assume that only very bad people can be led into great evil, that only people who are really subhuman can do terrible things or allow terrible things to be done in their names, we are wrong. In being wrong, we run the risk of letting evil grow unrecognized. We need to be reminded of that.

The notion that someone of a particular faith, any faith, can make an appearance in a venue, accuse someone of sympathizing with the enemy of that faith and then make demands of innocent people who are discussing that enemy, is ludicrous.

The Nazis had fun at times, at times not at the expense of anyone. They were people. People have fun at times. They did evil things collectively. People do evil things at times. This does not mean that they are not people. This does not mean they are not worth looking at as people. Indeed, that is what makes such photographs particularly chilling: that a person can have a picnic at one moment and, an hour later, report for duty at the ovens.

As Lynn Teague pointed out (although I'm not in agreement about the idea that Nazis having fun points to the banality of evil), the line between those who do evil and those who have not can be very fine. To say this is not to defend Nazis or to engage in anti-Semitism. It is to recognize the potential for evil in us all and the potential for good.

I would certainly say that Gerry Badger's "The Genius Of Photography" should be on every photographers book self. The TV series was brilliant, but the book was better.

Martin Parr's and Gerry Badger's Five Favorite Photobooks from PDN on-line


Does anyone happen to know why there seem to be two versions of "Magnum Magnum" on Amazon UK, one with a £40 price tag and one with a £95 one?



"Hitler and Mussolini were only the primary spokesmen for the attitude of domination and craving for power that are in the heart of almost everyone. Until the source is cleared, there will always be confusion and hate, wars and class antagonisms."
— Jiddu Krishnamurti

"The Genius of Photography", the series, is really good. I would highly recommend it to any aspiring photographer.

Jon Leighton,
There is a full hardcover edition (which is very large) and a compact edition (apparently also hardcover but smaller). I believe that the larger "full" version is now out of print, although Amazon in both the U.K. and U.S. is currently just listing it as "temporarily out of stock." (That designation frequently turns into "unavailable" after Amazon orders more from the publisher and the order can't be filled.) Martin's list was originally published last December.

Mike J.

Nobody makes documentaries like the BBC; but I have to say that I was a little disappointed by the series. You have to admire the BBC for making the series and they had a lot of ground to cover, but it felt a little rushed for me. Hopefully the book will address that

Don Mcullin's book is a true gem

There’s a very interesting interview with McCullin, here.



Dear John Brewton,

If a few more people understood that the National Socialist party contained a very, very large number of people who were just like you and me, it would do a great deal of good to the chances of humanity avoiding further criminal moral catastrophes of the sorts suffered by Armenians, Soviet Citizens, your co-religionists, Cambodians and others.

"Fun-loving Nazis" is indeed a horrible, shocking phrase, whatever your degree of separation from that particular evil might be.

I contend that that shock is easily worthwhile bearing if it helps a few more to unlock the truly horrible secret of how close the greatest evils can come to the simplest hearts, and therefore what our personal responsibilities must be.

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