Toothing of past and present
A dog is being walked in front of the SS headquarters; the former villas of the SS camp administration have been renovated and are inhabited. These two impressions of my first visit to the Flossenbürg concentration camp a few years ago kept coming back to me and were the motivation to photographically investigate the question of how relics of the Nazi atrocities reach into the present, how they are dealt with and what effect they have today to have.
Flossenbürg in the Upper Palatinate, first mentioned in a document in 948, with a population of 1,600 today, shows this interlocking between past and present particularly clearly, since the camp was built in 1938 in the immediate vicinity of the town and the granite quarry. The prisoners had to quarry the granite for the National Socialists' building projects under inhumane conditions. After morning roll call, the prisoners moved to the quarry or armaments factories within sight of the village. Out of 100,000 prisoners, 30,000 were maltreated to death.
After the war, the site continued to be used pragmatically, for example as accommodation for prisoners of war, the homeless and displaced persons. However, a targeted appropriation also took place in order to erase the memory of the crimes. In 1950, the community built their own homes on the foundations of the prisoner barracks. Until 1998, the few structural remains of the camp and the granite quarry were deliberately left to decay.
Today the site encloses the former camp and current memorial. The way to the quarry leads through the village, past a kiosk, the former gate building of the quarry.
Wolfgang Zurborn, Lichtblick School, Theater of Real Life Vol. 6:
With his photographs from Flossenbürg in the Upper Palatinate, Eckart Bartnik shows the interlocking of history and the present. The horrors of the Nazi past of this place with its concentration camp in a central location cannot be made directly visible, but extremely precise observations of everyday reality create a sensitivity for the remaining traces of this inhuman system. We don't see objectively neutral depictions of village scenes, but cuts in space and time that decode social structures with a precise awareness of the historical context. Without any bold symbolism, unspectacular places become meaningful scenarios in extremely condensed compositions, since everything depicted is placed in a peculiar tension with one another. A distrust of the village idyll inevitably creeps in.