Looking beyond the act of Raising a flag over the Reichstag: the visualization of an epochal changeover and fabrication of a national myth

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Looking beyond the act of Raising a flag over the Reichstag: the visualization of an epochal changeover and fabrication of a national myth

Type: Master thesis
Title: Looking beyond the act of Raising a flag over the Reichstag: the visualization of an epochal changeover and fabrication of a national myth
Author: Bernshausen, Falk-Hagen
Issue Date: 2017-08-31
Keywords: war photography, 1945, Reichstag, Soviet Union, GDR, national myth, Schlagbild,
Abstract: The images of photographic sequence, which show two or sometimes three Soviet soldiers raising the red Soviet banner on the burn-out Reichstag, Germany’s landmark building in Berlin, captured in early May 1945 by the Red Army photographer Yevgeny Anan'evich Khaldei, have become one of the most emblematic pictures of the ending World War Two and the final defeat of the Third Reich. As Schlüsselbild (key picture), a photographic image with national, cultural and political symbolic characteristic, these photographs play as Bilderakte (image acts) play a crucial and active part in the designing and representing history for future interpretation, based remembering of the World War Two and the collapse of the Third Reich and the national reconstruction of post-1945 identity and narrative. This thesis analyzes the compositional appeal of this particular photographic sequence, consisting of several icon key pictures, which have been reproduced in schoolbooks, films, exhibitions and historiography, among other publication platforms. In an examination of documentation of this particular event and its rhetoric importance and the functioning of photography in visualizing and co-design/co-influence the discourse of future representation of the event, the national narrative and myth creation, this thesis addresses beside the compositional appeal and classification of the photographs as Schlüsselbild or Schlagbild (pictorial slogan) on the traditional function of such victory images, it explores the function of such photographs in context of war and to allocate ‘pre-images’ of visualizing epochal changeovers or beginning of new political time periods. The specificity and functionality of ‘documenting’ visually historical changeovers from the perspective of politics, shows secondly in a case study of two reproductions of the Reichstag icon in the context of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the formative power of photography in the political argumentation process of the ‘liberation’ myth the function of image between the ‘documentary’ evidence and the ‘symbolic’ political message that is argued by the elites of the GDR. The analysis examines one of the possible interpretation of the photographs in the post-1945 political context and the construction of the mythological national narrative and collective memory. Taking the example of the official GDR’s official functionalization and interpretation of the iconic Reichstag sequence, this thesis is an attempt to demonstrate one example of the long pictorial tradition of visually capturing history in order to actively shape and co-determine the reception of the past event influence the future national identity construction and political argumentation communicated and generated by historical key images.
Supervisor: Ruiter, Martine de
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Media Studies (Master)
Specialisation: Film and Photographic Studies
ECTS Credits: 20
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/52540
 

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