Whenever I go visit my mother at her booth at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, I stop by to say hello to friend Eric Chaim Kline. He has a vast inventory, including photography, architecture, Judaism, Weimar German and Third Reich, foreign language works in German, Hebrew, Polish and Yiddish. He’s usually busy with customers, but we take some time to talk. Going to Eric’s booth reminds me of the 1000+1 dissertations I could have written. The visual erudition at Eric Chaim Kline Books is immense.
This year, these Nazi election broadsheets were for me the stand out items at his booth. The objects in this particular group are not your run of the mill Nazi propaganda. Eric thinks they were intended as newspaper inserts. You can open them up and flip through several pages. Alas, I did not have the opportunity to take pictures of the inside pages. Eric was busy and I wasn’t going to bother him. But what struck me was the sophisticated graphic design. I think you can see how the layout is up-to-date super-modern.
I always figured that it was the Communists who pursued this kind of aesthetic. But here it is, Nazi montage. The difference between the two totalitarianisms was grossly overstated by Walter Benjamin in his essay on “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Here, at least, the communist polticization of aesthetics is pretty much the same, visually, as the aesthetic aestheticization of politics.
As for anybody working on any of the aforementioned areas of scholarly interest would do well to check out Eric’s website: http://www.klinebooks.com/cgi-bin/kline/index.html. If your library has deep pockets, have them buy some books for their special collections.
like you, I initially associated montage with progressive politics and Russian Constructivism. One interesting place where it occurs in posters and albums produced by Jews in the Lodz Ghetto; these celebrate Rumkowski’s governance and are made as evidence of successful productivity. I think the stylistic modernism might have been re-assuring to viewers that there was some truth to the Nazi lie, ‘work makes you free.” Fascinating to see this style appear on both sides of the political divide.
Rumkowski and montage? Brilliant! Thanks so much, Carol.