It's suggested that this deceptively simple photo by August Sander provides a link:
The subject's uniform and helmet grab the modern viewer's attention. But the background -- the specific context (perhaps his home village?)-- is also a vital part of the image. And the young face can be interpreted in many ways. As for the fate of this individual, what do we know?
Writing in 1931 -- some years before this picture was taken, of course -- Walter Benjamin dryly observed of the early stages of Sander's great project:
Work like Sander's could assume an unlooked-for topicality.Benjamin also quotes Goethe:
There is a delicate empiricism that so intimately involves itself with the object that it becomes true theory.
P.S. 30 Dec: In the NYT, A.O. Scott is sniffy about this film:
Forget about Weimar inflation and the Treaty of Versailles and whatever else you may have learned in school: Nazism was caused by child abuse. Or maybe by the intrinsic sinfulness of human beings.But the film allows for, indeed encourages a more complex view: not a case of either (historical determinism) or (human weakness), but both.