“What Remains of the Day – Memories of World War II” explores the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust on contemporary life by grappling with time and memory through images of places and people. I photograph places that evoke the horrors of the Nazi regime by overexposing the photos so that only traces of the resulting images are recorded. I overexpose the images for one second for every year since the war ended in Europe on May 9, 1945. For example, photos taken in 2016 (71 years after the end of World War II) were overexposed for 71 seconds. Much like memory, the photographs are fragmented and ambiguous, and some are in color, others in black and white.
The places I photograph include concentration, labor and death camps, the Reich Aviation Ministry, the House of the Wannsee Conference, and the D-Day Beaches in Normandy, France, or the Atlantic Wall fortifications in Brittany, France.
I explore people through portraits and interviews. I select people who experienced the war in diverse ways: including Holocaust survivors, Germans, and Allied veterans. These interviews present personal perspectives on the war and the Hitler regime. I have interviewed and taken portraits of 21 people. The photos were taken in Germany, Poland, France, and the UK.
I was born and raised in Germany, so I have a personal relationship to the aftermath of WWII and my family’s involvement in the war. I now live in the U.S., which enables me to view my home country through a different lens. My background as urban planner, visual sociologist, and photographer qualifies me to both interview and photograph people and places. With this project, I offer an approach to place, history, and personal trauma that is historical but still resonates in contemporary U.S. and European politics where anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim sentiments have risen. The photos encourage the viewers to think about how the horrors of fascism and World War II are still relevant today. What will happen to Europe as anti-immigrant right-wing parties become stronger? Is U.S. democracy weakening and heading towards authoritarianism? “What Remains of the Day – Memories of World War II” inspires critical thinking and engages its viewers by forming a bridge between the past and the present.