Sites of Reality

From: “The Site of Reality".
Constructing Photojournalism in Weimar Germany, 1928-33.” Communication Review. 1:3, 1996, 373-402.

The introduction of a new technology is typically accompanied by a public discourse which reveals the social and political attitudes and cultural values that shape the climate of acceptance. Such climate, however, is frequently enough manufactured by those who organize and control the public sphere, and who hold, in effect, what C. Wright Mills called the "power of initiation" ( 1956, p. 117).
This study addresses the introduction of press photography in Germany during the late 1920s. It is grounded in a cultural materialist perspective from which photographic practices appear as products of cultural and political processes of a specific historical moment. At that time, the newspaper press responded with its own ideological constructions of photojournalism based on political allegiances and on the commercial potential of images confirmed by the success of picture magazines. Simultaneously, individual or collective understandings among photographers of the need to produce a version of social reality were to reflect aesthetic preferences and political tendencies of media ownership.
Photography operates within a system of representations and as part of the cultural and political apparatus of society. Enhanced by what Victor Burgin called its capacity for "resemblance" (1982, p. 11), photography is a means of communication within a theory of culture and communication that locates the media within a society conceived of as a complex relationship of activities and institutions. Photojournalism as a signifying system is closely tied to the economic and political order and may be involved in the reproduction or transformation of the dominant structures. It also functions as a distinguishable new language of journalism which challenged traditional text-based notions of facts or objectivity. This study is located at the boundaries between those regimes of representation, at a time, when the change from word to image or image/text in the public sphere came to represent a shift in cultural practices. Photographs decomposed traditional narratives and created a new awareness of the availability and the potential of visual experiences among photographers and editors. In this context, it is also a study of how the press reacted to the fast and efficient reproducibility of events and the creation of reality through photographs.
The introduction of press photography stands at the beginning of a modern encounter with images, including moving images, the promise of their contribution to public enlightenment, and the fear of their destructive powers; it has reached a point, where "the fantasy . . . of a culture totally dominated by images has now become a real technical possibility on a global scale (Mitchell, 1994, p. 15). At this juncture in the development of visual communication, the study may also be taken as a response to Raymond Williams' (1980) invitation that "the main result of a restated theoretical position should be sustained historical inquiry into the general history of the development of means of communication" (p. 54). Its purpose is to explore the dynamics of social and political practices within the formations of the press that guided or promoted the introduction of photojournalism in the context of different social and political agendas.
While there has been considerable work on the politics and culture of Weimar Germany in recent years (e.g., Barnouw, 1981, 1994; Eyck, 1962/63; Friedrich, 1972; Frisby, 1986; Gay, 1968; Laqueur, 1974; Pachter, 1982; Stern, 1965; Willett, 1978, 1984), including discussions of avant-garde contributions to photography (e.g., Coke, 1982; Lavin, 1993; Mellor, 1978; Neumann, 1993; Pachnicke & Honnef, 1992; Phillips, 1989), research on the emerging role of press or magazine photography in Weimar Germany as a modern means of communication, a new language of journalism, or a contributor to the rise of photojournalism elsewhere, has been limited (e.g., Freund, 1980; Gidal, 1972, 1993; Hardt, 1989; Ohrn and Hardt, 1981; Smith, 1986).
Although some attention will be paid to the contemporary intellectual critiques of images and photographic practices in Weimar Germany, this study is less interested in tracing the critical reception of photography by German readers. Instead, it concentrates on the construction of press photography within the institutional and political boundaries of the print media and in the context of external cultural and political conditions which informed the evolution of press and magazine photography in Weimar Germany. The latter, in particular, provided American publishers, like Henry Luce, with invaluable insights and reveals the relationship between the German experience with magazine photography and the rise of picture magazines in the United States. For instance, the conceptualization of magazine journalism after 1933, as accomplished by the LIFE organization, among others, benefited significantly from contributions by German émigré editors and photographers (Smith, 1986, Hardt, 1989).

The cultural context of photojournalism in 1920s Germany was particularly enhanced by an expanding, free flow of ideas from abroad following World War I. In its path, the potential of photography as a documentary and journalistic tool, was demonstrated with the rise of new aesthetic visions and the course of political developments. They occurred in the Soviet Union and Germany, in particular, and in the United States, where technology and democracy had become synonymous expressions of freedom. Underlying considerations of photography was a recognition of the factual as a central issue concerning functionalism and a need to struggle against the distortion of realism by photographic images. Photography was also recognized as a social and political instrument; it allowed participation and could be used by large numbers of people. Anatoly Lunacharsky, Lenin's commissar for education in 1920, once said that "besides his pocket watch, every progressive Soviet citizen must also own a camera" (Günter,1977, p. 97).1
More specifically, the experience with photography in the Soviet Union had resulted in the rise of documentary expression. It was discussed and implemented by Dzigo Vertov in his Kinoglaz activities, involving the production of newsreels and the "decoding of life as it is" (Michelson, 1984, p. 49) and by Alexander Rodchenko who expanded the traditional use of the camera eye. Vertov rejected the Hollywood version of film as fictional production and insisted on the primacy of the documentary approach. His use of the documentary form demonstrated the impact of a social or political theory of revolution on visual expression. Rodchenko also maintained that social transformations must be expressed in a change of form and content and argued for new possibilities of the photograph, not only to describe the world, but to see it from different points. With the rise of the new photography he criticized and confronted the traditional, century-old, authoritarian perspective of a "psychology of the navel" (Khan-Magomedov, 1987, p. 222). Along with others Rodchenko developed photographic practices that emphasized the defamiliarization of objects, in an effort to confront preconceptions, and noted the danger of conventional photography with its tendency to reinforce habitual ways of seeing through repetition (Watney, pp. 155-66).
Both men stressed the importance of producing images based in fact whose documentary values supported the goals of the revolution and the interest of educating people in the spirit of Socialism. In fact, other Soviet photographers associated with the magazine Novyj LEF (Left Front of the Arts), recognized that the new challenges of daily life required a new form of representation. They problematized and conceptualized the relationship between the development of new social structures and their visual presentation and decided that the camera represented the most adequate medium for the reproduction of revolutionary matter in a revolutionary manner. As Herbert Molderings (1978) observed, "The Russian revolution, which liberated all productive forces, also for a time liberated the art of photography" (p. 91), when technology became the hope of society and camera technology satisfied the need for documentation. But there were significant differences noted between bourgeois and proletarian photography. Writing about the struggle between creative and constructive photography, Walter Benjamin (1977) cited the accomplishment of Russian film, based on the goal of its photography, which was not "appeal and influence, but experiment and instruction" (p. 63).
Max Alpert and Arkady Shaikhet who worked for the Soyusfoto agency (founded in 1926), among others, dominated photojournalism in the Soviet Union. They raised the level of professional performance and created expectations about the role of photography that pushed beyond charges of formalism to express their commitment to the cause. One result, which influenced the work of German photographers, was the creation of serialized images in the form of picture stories, including, "Twenty-four Hours in the Life of the Filippov Family." About 80 photographs depicting the typical life of a Russian worker and his family toured Vienna, Prague, and Berlin in 1931; the story was republished in Willi Münzenberg’s weekly picture magazine, Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ), a very successful publication of the left founded in 1925 (38/1931). The project inspired a German version, "Die deutschen Filipows," produced by a workers' collective in Berlin that was published in the AIZ (48/1931). Its form and function became a new and alternative type of photographic practice in the service of political propaganda.
The success of Soviet photography in Germany spread through exhibitions and books; it also suggested that the rise of a new technology under conditions of development and the direction of specific ideological interests, informed the work of others whose aesthetic sensibilities rather than political convictions responded to the challenge of a new photography. One did not have to be a Communist to understand the potential of photography as a new way of seeing the world or to join in the experimentation with images and texts, in an effort to challenge the authority of conventional practices. Thus, considerations of Soviet photography were also part of a more general intellectual and creative exploration of the post-war culture which surfaced in German journalism of the 1920s. It involved increasing demands for facts and objective presentations of the world. Information became a central force behind movements in literature and journalism signaling the end of a social and political era and emphasizing the power and attraction of immediacy and actuality of experience as a journalistic event.
The primacy of the factual, or objectivity, also reflected an admiration for the United States with its technological progress and democratic tradition, and constituted a shared feeling beyond the political boundaries of the Soviet Union, or even Weimar Germany. As Grigori Konsintsev and his Soviet colleagues (1988) suggested, "Yesterday -- the culture of Europe . Today -- the technology of America. Industry, production under the Stars and Stripes. Either Americanization or the undertaker" (p. 58). These sentiments were reflected in Weimar Germany, where despite the recent war, "Americans were welcomed as the best of friends" (Villard, 1933, p. 16). Germans were informed in 1926 that an "intense yearning for America" could be answered with chewing gum which "is the cheapest way to Americanize oneself" (Lorsy, 1994, p. 662). But the popularity of American culture and its influence on Weimar Germany must also be placed in the context of specific technological developments. For instance, the rise of broadcasting in the United States, closely monitored by German authorities, was celebrated by radio amateurs, who hailed the idea of "freedom of the air" in their publications (Lerg, 1980, p. 65).
There was also an increasing transmission of cultural productions, including films and photographs, with the establishment of U.S. distributors and press agencies. For example, a 1927 content analysis of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung" observed an American influence in photography, which wants to be a means of grasping visual reality" (Büssemeyer, 1930, p. 47). In addition there was the expedient translation and publication of U.S. literature, and the cultural mobility of idols, like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. Indeed, Thomas Saunders (1994) considered the popularity and criticism of Hollywood films, in Weimar Germany, a form of Americanization. There was also an affinity with American press practices of separating fact from opinion. They were identified and sometimes imitated, particularly by the liberal German press, representing a desirable accommodation of commercial interests and societal responsibilities (Hardt, 1989). The print media, especially, adopted U.S. journalistic practices in content and layout. They included human interest stories, sensationalism, and the frequent use of illustrations, especially photographs, which punctured the layout of newspapers and spread across the pages of magazines. For instance, the concept "yellow" press was applied to the Ullstein press in 1932 by Carl von Ossietzky in the Weltbühne (Koszyk, 1972, p. 256), while "Americanisms" became a concept in Max Weber's anticipated social scientific study of the German press (Hardt, 1979, p. 172).
Neither the influence of Soviet or American cultural practices were universally welcome. However, there was a climate of reception in a general atmosphere of experimentation and creativity in Weimar Germany, which supported the flow of ideas across political and cultural boundaries. Photography became a cultural practice of the popular press.
Specific developments of photojournalism were problematized and legitimated by a more general discussion of the role of language and the power of images; they were most dramatically captured by the Dada movement and the political photomontages of John Heartfield. There was also the appeal of the photo book as a creative statement and a prominent and important source of social and political information that represented yet another form of documentary expression. In addition, intellectual debates about language and images by individuals ranging from Martin Heidegger (1962), Benjamin (1969), and Siegfried Kracauer (1977) to Hugo von Hoffmannsthal (1921). They addressed the cultural demands of a democracy following a long period of censorship, that had ended after World War I. At that time, demands for news and entertainment spread to new and vast audiences of socially and economically deprived individuals. The commercial media responded with a flood of inexpensive reading materials, including serialized novels in existing newspapers and magazines, dime novels, paperbacks, and picture magazines.
The Weimar press reflected the specific cultural milieu and reacted, as will be shown below, to the consequences of a photojournalism that profited from the political practices and commercial applications in the Soviet Union and the United States. On a more practical level, photographs delivered powerful statements; they also produced readers and, therefore, guaranteed increasing revenues. The latter was an important consideration for all sectors of the press, regardless of their political affiliation,

Photojournalism in Weimar Germany was the supplier of visual information; an increasing picture coverage of events at home and abroad aimed at satisfying the curiosity of readers. It also helped reintegrate post-war Germany visually into the world community. Photojournalism demonstrated access to visual resources, regardless of origin, and promoted the idea of a liberated and, therefore, unobstructed gaze. It also reinforced a notion of the reader as observer and participant in the world, while the coverage of traditional German social and cultural practices reaffirmed the past and validated the power of history. On the other hand, the uses of photographs by the political press of the left or right, for the purposes of enlightenment and propaganda, served to control or counteract visual statements by the popular press and directed readers towards a different kind of truth. Rather than redirecting attention away from the social and political conditions of everyday life in Weimar Germany by focusing on the exoticism of distant realities, these institutions insisted on returning to the "real" conditions of contemporary society.
Photographs catered to the need for facts, reinforced the professional ideology of objectivity, and became sites of reality in the world of Weimar journalism. More specifically, editors treated photographic images in their publications as objective representations of people and events. Photographs were assigned the power to establish the real conditions of society, either in the form of middle class conceptions of tradition and survival, or in the provocative style of social criticism in its attacks on the social and political establishment. Photographs served to document different truths and different understandings of everyday life and assumed an increasingly important role in the conceptualization of news and news coverage; they were products of the "camera eye" that observed and recorded under the creative guidance of a "lensman," who was recognized for "taking" pictures everywhere and under the most imaginative circumstances.
Thus, photography in Germany was energized by the social and political conditions in the post-war era and emerged as a "new vision," built on an awareness of the new technology and its aesthetic potential. Magazine photography, in particular, celebrated the new vision under the leadership of editors like Kurt Korff and Stefan Lorant; photographers such as Laslo Moholy-Nagy, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Erich Salomon and Felix Man helped articulate the autonomy of photography vis-a-vis art and its possibilities as a technological means of representation. Through series of photographic expressions that ranged from the experimental uses of the camera technology to straightforward realism, they addressed artistic/philosophical issues of space and time as well as the concrete conditions of social change. It was the glorification of the object, in particular, that was the product of Neue Sachlichkeit photography as well as the application of constructivist ideas, emerging from the work of Rodchenko, that reappeared in the documentary or journalistic work of German photographers, published in the magazines of liberal bourgeois publishing houses, like Ullstein or Knorr & Hirth, for instance.
There could be no doubt that photography in all of its forms had become a new and significant structural element of social expression and was used to provide social and scientific evidence of the political and natural environment. The press had a particular stake in the discourse concerning facts and the representation of reality, since its historical understanding of news or information was seriously challenged by a visual medium that promised to be more direct, more powerful, and quite different in its conceptualization of social reality than traditional textual treatments by reporters. Not since the beginning of the modern press had a new technology threatened to alter the face of newspapers and magazines as radically as did the use of photographs.
But the introduction of photography required more than a new outlook on journalistic practices by editors and publishers, or even reporters; it also required a new form of reception from a potentially large audience. The news was to be seen not read, and was intended to provide an immediate encounter with reality. These changes involving aesthetic and material aspects of production and consumption relied on questions of culture, including professional expectations and reader satisfaction. Thus, while individual creativity, often channeled through picture agencies, contributed to the popularity of photographic narratives, reader demands or tastes were constantly being created and sustained by the press. The goal was to reinforce editorial policies concerning visual presentations and direct the flow of pictures by references to reading habits, cultural preferences, and issues of cultural consumption. In other words, German editors and publishers were deeply involved in the cultural construction of photographs as journalistic expressions.
The construction of the image as information by those in control of the uses of photography, within the daily press, involved more immediate organizational and administrative problems. Issues ranged from business arrangements with picture agencies and professional considerations of staffing picture desks, while redefining news to accommodate the flow of photographs, to dealing with the competitive pressures for more picture coverage, while struggling to comprehend the powerful social and political impact of images and the commercial and political consequences of photojournalism. Beyond these concerns loomed even more fundamental questions, however, regarding hegemonic issues of controlling technological change and maintaining political power over the process of defining reality in which the press competed for the supply of visual information about a rapidly changing cultural and political environment.
By the beginning of the twentieth century the demand for more photographs were met by the establishment of photo agencies, particularly in Berlin. A host of German press agencies began to compete, mostly with exclusive picture material, for the domestic market which included the daily press, picture magazines, and the little magazines by the 1920s. The latter had been successful in the United States, combining novels, reportage, and feature photographs, which provided yet another outlet for photographers. In addition, some agencies, among them Dephot (Deutscher Photo-Dienst) and Weltrundschau, initiated work on photo stories rather than on single images to supply magazines with visual narratives. Their contributions were fueled by the creative capabilities of the new photographers and encouraged by the increasing demands for unique story ideas from picture magazines. They constituted the raw material for defining the nature of photojournalism which also effected considerations of the daily press concerning style, content, and quantity of visual presentations.
A photographer who worked in the Berlin bureau of Pacific & Atlantic Photos (later Associated Press) recalled the role of agency personnel and how rapidly news photos were distributed to clients around the city and abroad. A typical daily routine consisted of preparing a set of seven to fifteen photographs (subscribers had access to a minimum of seven pictures per day), adding feature photographs, if necessary quotas could not be reached, and producing 80 copies of each set of photographs for general shipment and an additional 30 copies for the London, Paris, and New York offices of the Associated Press and for some special customers (Kerbs, 1983, pp. 26-28). Photographs were also circulated through other outlets; for instance, in 1927 the Illustrations-Verlag Wagenborg in Berlin offered subscriptions for weekly deliveries of stereotype plates to daily newspapers. The service provided photographs to cover news events (40), sports (2), and fashion, architecture, and film (1 each), besides various graphics (Deutsche Presse, 1927, p. xxi).
Photo agencies catered for some time to a rising demand for visual information which continued to threaten conventional forms of public communication. Between 1924 and 1930, besides picture magazines, however, movie houses and broadcasting came onto the social and political scene in Germany and offered yet another opportunity for altering traditions of communication in society. Thus, the newspaper industry of the Weimar Republic confronted the effects of photography on the nature of public communication. Since pictures as reproductions of reality appealed to many people who responded to them intuitively or experientially, rather than as members of an expert (educated) audience, photography extended the process of reception to different and larger audiences. For example, in an effort to provide a broad spectrum of illustrated information by 1928, the Berliner Tageblatt, offered its readers several illustrated supplements each week, including Der Weltspiegel, Illustrierte Film-Zeitung, Photo-Spiegel, and Modenspiegel (de Mendelssohn, 1959, p. 248).
The ensuing flood of magazine pictures, however, was met not only by the photo-documentation of the AIZ, which tried to subvert the process of distraction, but by cultural critics, like Kracauer, who questioned the surface qualities of the medium and its illusion of being the real. Writing in 1927, Kracauer (1977) saw the illustrated magazine press as a source of contradictions and its photographs constituting a fragmented reality. "In the illustrated magazines the public sees the world whose perception of it is hindered by the illustrated journals themselves." In fact, "American illustrated magazines, which are being imitated often by those in other countries, equate the world with the embodiment of photographs" (p. 34).
In the meantime, the German press approached photojournalism with predictable trepidations, due, at least in part, to the nature of the industry. The lack of a strong national press in Germany was offset by a system of large regional and local newspapers, ranging from district newspapers, which relied on syndicated material, to a sophisticated urban press in cities like Berlin and Frankfurt, with relatively large circulation beyond its geographical regions. In addition, there was the Generalanzeiger type of newspaper that offered news rather than views. Although Germany boasted more newspapers than any other European country, most newspapers were small; the so-called Heimatpresse represented the stereotypical notion of local ownership. Oron Hale (1964) reported that in the late 1920s 81 percent of the newspapers were family owned and over half of them claimed to be neutral and independent; the press was a business proposition rather than a political calling for many publishers, including those in large metropolitan areas (pp. 3-4), where the encounter with modern photography was strongest due to the publication of national or regional magazines. Many local newspapers were organized in their respective provinces and represented by the Association of German Newspaper Publishers (Verein der deutschen Zeitungsverleger or VDZV), although its leadership of the organization was in the hands of the elite press. Only Nazi and Communist publishers remained outside the association. The VDZV was particularly concerned with business and technical aspects of the press, but as Hale (1964) observed, "To a greater extent than was customary with trade organizations it was inspired by a sense of high past achievement, of service and obligation to the public and the nation, and of standards that transcended the business balance sheet and the profit and loss statement" (pp. 7-8). These values clearly informed the discussion of an emerging practice of press photography among organized newspaper publishers.

In Germany, throughout the late 1920s, the discussion of photographs in the service of newsrooms was particularly interesting, since by that time most newspaper proprietors became convinced that photography was a legitimate medium of public communication. According to VDZV estimates, between 600 and 800 newspapers used photographs and texts regularly (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1928a, p. 637). Magazine journalism in Germany, which had already embraced photography as an attractive and powerful way of creating a different visual experience for its readers, had begun to compete successfully for advertisers against a press that had been slow in adopting this new technology as part of its regular news gathering process.
In fact, the invasion of images during the 1920s and the actual and regular use of photographs by newspapers prompted a series of responses from newspaper publishers. They addressed the position of the press in the cultural milieu of Weimar Germany and articulated the authoritative claims of publishers over definitions of the press and its relations with readers. They also reflected the nature of traditional German journalism, which insisted on an ideologically driven dialogue with educated readers rather than on acknowledging the existence of ordinary readers, whose encounter with picture magazines may have left them with a desire to be informed by other than textual treatments of events.
Although financial considerations, unfamiliarity with fairly recent technical advancements, and the specific conditions of producing newspapers (often under collective arrangements and with the help of boiler plate services, for instance) seemed relevant reasons for a slow adoption of photographs by many newspapers, the major arguments concerning the status of photographs in the press focused on their cultural meaning. These arguments seemed to address publishers of magazines and newspapers, like Ullstein, who had acted on the realization that with the introduction of photographs, readers preferred the visual imagery to texts. As Korff (1994), editor of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, explained, "Without the picture the things going on in the world were reproduced incompletely, often implausibly; the picture conveyed the strongest and most lasting impression" (p. 646).
Photography had been used by these illustrated magazines to construct and reflect a middle class world view that had often little to do with the actual conditions of society. Newspaper publishers must have been well aware of this tendency; their own discussions of the role and function of press photography reflected the outcome of these professional practices of magazine editors and their cooperation with photographers, whose own projects could only have been as successful as they were because of their ideological proximity to the unwritten demands of the industry. Thus, German photojournalism attracted many photographers who produced series of picture essays under the guidance of editors and picture agencies and helped bourgeois magazine journalism succeed commercially. The result was that photographers produced and published extraordinary photographs of an untouched world of Tradition and Kultur at the expense of critical and socially and politically relevant photographs or photographic stories.
However, German newspaper publishers remained particularly sensitive to the significant flow of foreign images into the press and weighted the consequences of any uncritical use of such photographic material by editors and their effects on readers. They argued for careful editorial choices, expressing their preference for the work of certain picture agencies, and particularly for those with a firm understanding of what constituted an acceptable photographic image for the German press. Their arguments about picture editing were informed by a narrow, ethnocentric understanding of culture as high culture, relying on a traditional notion of Kultur to explain reader expectations. As a result, rising public demands for exotic (foreign) images -- and therefore potential profits -- were met by some German newspaper publishers with resistance basedon cultural grounds.
These debates within the newspaper establishment culminated in a series of articles and letters in the official VDZV publication, Zeitungs-Verlag, that began in March 1928, with a discussion of "the cultural meaning of the newspaper picture" by members of the German publishers association (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1928a, pp. 637-40). Although they were framed amidst considerable confusion or ambivalence concerning the actual use of photographs, the articles constituted an official acknowledgment of photographs in newspapers.
A preliminary and rather cursory review of several provincial newspapers of the early 1930s by this author revealed that photographs were used primarily in advertisements, for identification (mug shots) and to provide feature material; there were few, if any, that served news purposes and even sports photographs were often dated. Weekly illustrated supplements consisted mainly of feature photographs. Nevertheless, photographs were considered extremely important, because they could be easily and effectively understood by more readers, particularly those who were slow to assimilate the news. Two reasons emerged for selling VDZV members on the idea that photographic technology and picture-editing competence would be necessary and worthwhile acquisitions: first, the increasing competition from illustrated magazines and newspaper supplements, particularly in the metropolitan press, and second, the need to cater to reader interests in photographs. Thus, the incorporation of photographic practices into everyday journalism would not only improve form and content of newspapers, but would increase their public appeal and might lead to increased circulation.
After the war the periodical press had already begun to satisfy the general hunger for images, especially in response to the increasing pace of modern existence; but magazines were constrained to deliver mere memories of past events. In fact, Korff (1994) suggested that weekly picture magazines. among other functions, were to provide the visual evidence of events that had occupied daily newspapers to provide information and extend public knowledge of current events through the publication of visual material. At the same time it was also the expressed editorial policy of the magazine that the election of photographic images be based not on the importance of the event, "but solely on the allure of the photo itself" (p. 646). On the other hand, only daily newspapers could provide an effective combination of visual immediacy, timeliness, and textual explanation to serve their readers with a clearer interpretation of events through photographic images rather than traditional texts.
In this context there was a recognized need for experienced editorial staffs to handle the professional demands for better picture coverage. After all, the news and information value of the photograph, rather than its usefulness as an illustration, and the requirements of truthful and accurate visual and textual statements, demanded the journalistic expertise of picture editors. The acknowledged autonomy of editorial decision-making, however, included the obligation to protect business interests, which were typically couched in terms of readership requests for quality products ((Zeitungs-Verlag, 1928c, pp. 901-904; 1928b, p. 1617).
There were more fundamental problems, however. For instance, newspaper publishers also complained that many photographers seemed to know little about journalism, the specific needs of editors, and the speed of the daily press. Instead of responding to criteria like immediacy and newsworthiness, photographers submitted seemingly arbitrary and frequently irrelevant selections of feature material, adding to the supply of "ridiculous" and "tasteless" photographs received from England and the United States. Furthermore, discussions among newspaper publishers assigned a cultural task and a specific cultural meaning to picture coverage, which would uphold expectations of Kulturbewußtsein (cultural consciousness) and thereby eventually strengthen the influence of the daily press on the public and private spheres of society. At the same time, the presence of so-called "destructive" tendencies among sensational newspapers and their mode of visual presentation was considered dangerous; it was certainly rejected by the mainstream press, whose editors were simply expected to act on the importance of the "cultural will" of pictures (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1928a, p. 638).
The rhetoric of acceptance by the official organ of Germany's newspaper publishers culminated in the observation that any cultural and technological progress or political action will spread and be remembered longer, when journalistic texts are enhanced by explanatory and stimulating pictures. (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1928a, p. 637). Such a statement suggested at least an acquaintance with the potential power of images and their use or abuse in magazines like the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung or the AIZ; it also indicated a reclassification of the importance of texts in newspapers which reinforced the expressed fears among writers and reporters that the emergence of a visual culture would result in the demise of the word.
More seriously, perhaps, was the reigning definition of cultural responsibility that reinforced a conservative argument for the deployment of photographs and revealed the political nature of photographic practices by the press. It was expressed in terms of a German solution to pictorial presentations in an effort to counter what was perceived either as creeping propaganda by foreign countries, like England or the United States, or as a flood of "tasteless" photographs that continued to reach German newspaper offices from these countries. VDZV members met photographic accounts of social, technological, or political developments from abroad with suspicion; on the other hand, German editors acknowledged that about two-thirds of their photographs were supplied by foreign sources (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1928b, p. 1617).
In an effort to develop a more patriotic alternative and, therefore, rely on domestic picture sources, editors were called upon to provide pictorial coverage of German accomplishments, and the presence of German culture in the lost territories of East Prussia, the Ruhr, or South Tyrol, for instance. (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1928a, p. 639). This practice already prevailed among weekly picture magazines which published photographic series celebrating the cultural achievements of the arts and sciences in Germany. In fact, when the New York Times gained the exclusive rights to photographs of the 1930 Passion Plays in Oberammergau, the advice to editors was to boycott the use of photographs and to force management to reconsider the decision to restrict the use of "German property" to Americans (Stiewe, 1930, p. 168).
While Korff hailed the unique contribution of the photograph to the magazine press was based on its "impact" rather than its content (1994, 646), daily newspaper editors were admonished to demonstrate that the selection of photographs did not depend on their visual impact or on their usefulness as fillers, but rather on their cultural mission. Publishers insisted on upholding the tradition of their newspapers as bearers and multipliers of German cultural labor. Thus, editors were reminded of the presence of sensitive readers whose sophisticated knowledge of the value and importance of photographs as representations of German culture would ultimately damage the credibility of newspapers acting irresponsibly in their selection and publication of pictures.
The creative insights and commercial instincts of German magazine editors, on the other hand, co-determined the direction and content of photojournalism. After all, institutional support of photographic projects, including the activities of enterprising picture agencies like Dephot or Weltrundschau, relied on the interests and commitments of editors like Korff or Lorant and others, like Paul Feinhals (Kölnische Illustrierte). Although magazines attempted to provide a broad range of images, there was a decidedly strong emphasis on photo stories. They typically consisted of four to seven photographs across a couple of pages to deliver a visual narrative in combination with supplementary texts. These stories resembled the story lines of movies and may have been attempts to compete against the visual attraction of film. Editors preferred a wide range of topics; most of them avoided contemporary political issues, or dealt with them retrospectively, and instead concentrated on the broader issues of social and cultural developments, international events, sports, and fashion.
The result was a celebration of German culture. Typical topics ranged from concerts and theatrical performances, including film studios, to inside reports from schools, monasteries, or sports events to travelogues and expeditions, while photostories describing unemployment, working conditions, poverty, or issues like rearmament or political extremism were rare or non-existent. (Hardt, 1989). Lorant, for instance, claimed proudly that he had never used a photograph of Hitler before 1933 (1983). This was in stark contrast to the editors of the AIZ, who opted for documentary photography that exposed the social and political conditions of society and remained confrontational rather than inconsequential with photographs that had been provided by workers rather than photojournalists who were simply identified as worker-photographers.
In spite of these developments in photojournalism and their public acceptance, primarily because of the editorial inexperience or mismanagement of pictures, as late as 1931 some German publishers still rejected the idea that photographs had enriched the German press. Their assessment of press photography repeated well-worn references to poor taste and phrases about the unsatisfactory quality of photographs, despite the recent addition of well paid picture editors (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1931, p. 99).
There may have been some reason for skepticism, particularly, if one listened to Bert Garai, "the man from Keystone," who talked much about his success in faking events, photographs, and deceiving personalities to have their picture taken (Garai, 1966). His practices confirmed the complaints of some German publishers or editors about the falsification of visual material.
Indeed, there were repeated discussions -- and rebuttals by editors -- related to the use of "false" photographs, photographs taken at different times under different circumstances, for example, and how to control the accuracy of each image. It was an issue that pitted the reputation of photographers and picture agencies against the trust of newspaper staffs, and picture editors, in particular.
However, it was also acknowledged that editorial staffs should have known better and were to be blamed for acting carelessly, in bad taste, or without political instincts in the course of selecting and treating photographs and texts. Consequently, they were accused of a lack of professional conduct, which was seen as effecting not only the quality of their own newspapers, but also as endangering the prestige of the German press (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1931, pp. 99-100).
Indeed, the lack of political instinct among editors, regarding their choice of photographs, was a frequent criticism; it was reinforced by the publication of a letter to the editor of Zeitungs-Verlag which complained about the picture coverage of international political meetings and questioned the priorities of the press to act in the national interest. The writer charged that when photographers engaged in candid photography during informal meetings, coffee or lunch breaks, and other equally innocuous events, they ignored their mission, which was to respond to Germany's vital interests. They also misunderstood their professional responsibility towards the (national) interests of readers, who expected meaningful photographs (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1932, p. 528).
This letter was an obvious response to the candid political photographs by Salomon, whose work appeared mostly in national picture magazines and frequently in the context of photo essays which had the expressed purpose of amplifying the political events of the week. Its publication in Zeitungs Verlag merely supported the official opinions of German publishers concerning the quality and status of photographs in the press. Their critique was related to the cultural mission of the press, the influence of foreign taste cultures, and traditional journalistic practices. It was also combined with a critique of editorial staffs and their handling of photographs and texts. But their comments also included a suggestion that foreigners and their business practices had introduced culturally undesirable photographs. Their lack of education (Bildung) and their ignorance of German culture and the cultural requirements for supplying appropriate images, had somehow effected, if not confused, the editorial selection process (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1931, p. 99). Such remarks contained the seeds of contempt and disrespect for anything foreign within a concrete historical situation in which thousands of foreigners contributed effectively and prominently to the cultural life of Berlin and Germany.
Under these circumstances, newspaper publishers showed a peculiar reaction to the political and cultural changes in Germany; it was the response of a press establishment that was not only conservative by nature, and, therefore, inclined to preserve traditional practices, but also particularly responsive to its own historical consciousness specifically to the aftermath of the war, including Germany's treatment at the hands of it former enemies, the struggle over the meaning of a democratic society, and finally, to the specter of modernity.
In fact, the official reaction of German publishers to photographic practices in their publication expressed the chauvinism of a narrow, provincial outlook on the cultural developments in society. But it was also the conservative voice of commerce which expressed its fears about a secure place in society; thus any references to expectations and abilities of readers related to the condition of picture journalism were also the expressions of anxiety over the consequences of technological change and cultural diversification for the press. It was the voice of a press that had been prepared for its own demise by industrial interests. These interests never completely appropriated the press, but succeeded in corrupting the press economically and in discrediting democratic institutions with the aid of newspapers (Koszyk,1972, p. 169). At stake were major issues of social and political progress and the impact of modernity -- with its interest in the visual -- on the power of the press to define reality authoritatively and exclusively. George Orwell once suggested that language suffers when the political atmosphere is bad; interestingly enough, there were signs of bad times in these official comments about pictures and the press. After all, only a few years later Nazi press laws responded successfully to similar dilemmas in a language of authority that was directed at journalists and spoke of the common will, culture, and strength.
Thus, the popular bourgeois magazine press had promoted a modern visual culture in Weimar Germany with the help of creative editors and a large number of talented photographers. Their accomplishments, however, were noted by the newspaper press, especially when magazines claimed to provide news and information. It resulted in an awareness of the potential of photographic coverage. Appropriate photographs were sought to help maintain and reinforce the cultural mission of the press against increasing efforts to introduce foreign, that is, non-German material, and unconventional professional judgments regarding the uses of photography. There was already an old generation of press photographers in the 1920s which needed to adjust to contemporary standards of speed and versatility within a changing industry; they must have wondered about the growing number of magazine photographers, in particular, who had accomplished a considerable degree of professional freedom and were able, even under increasing competition, to produce exemplary work.
By 1932 the criteria for photojournalists were well established and equaled those of reporters: journalistic instincts, the ability to see and act quickly, and a solid education together with good manners. At the same time, there was the realization that the German press (and the profession of photo reporters) lagged behind similar developments in the United States and Britain, and that photojournalism had remained, by and large, a small business rather than advanced to become an industrial enterprise since it had emerged from studio photography (Lachmann, 1932, p. 75).

Photographs became part of an ideological/political struggle, when the left, primarily through the work of Münzenberg, recognized the potential of images as means of propaganda against the background of a burgeoning popular picture press. The reaction was not only a critique of photography as a technology of reproduction in the hands of bourgeois publishers, but also an intensive, purposive, and successful exploration of photography as a weapon in the hands of the working class. The function of photography, like the function of art, was politicized. Photographs served not merely to reproduce the surfaces of everyday life, but to expose the conditions underneath the ordinary and familiar representations of society. Münzenberg's AIZ, in particular, became a forum for a type of photography that identified with the documentary style of Soviet photography and applied it to construct an alternative reality through combinations of text, photographs, and photomontage. But while it encouraged an ideological perspective and the political engagement of photographers, the AIZ also served German bourgeois editors and photographers as a professional guide and creative resource; it allowed them to respond successfully to freeing photographic expression from pre-war conventions while still satisfying the specific institutional demands of the middle-class press.
There was public support expressed for the critical documentary work that appeared in the AIZ, whose circulation rose from 200,000 in 1925 to 500,000 by the early 1930s (Büthe, 1977, p. 15). For instance, the tenth anniversary edition in 1931 included an appraisal of photojournalism by Bertold Brecht (1975) who suggested that
"the incredible development of the picture reportage has hardly been a victory for truth about the conditions in the world: photography in the hands of the bourgeoisie has become a cruel weapon against the truth. The immense picture material that is spewn out by the printing presses every day and that seems to have the characteristics of truth, serves, in reality, only to obscure the facts. The camera can lie as well as the linotype machine. The task of the A-I-Z to serve the truth and to restore the facts is of immense importance and is being solved brilliantly, it seems to me" (p. 125).
There were also letters of solidarity from American readers (for instance, Der Arbeiter, The Federated Press, a press service, and the Daily Worker, all of New York), including Upton Sinclair, who sent "birthday greetings and best wishes for your labors in defense of Soviet Russia, which I consider the most interesting and important phenomenon which has so far appeared in the history of the world." (AIZ 10/41, p. 816).AIZ's rising popularity resulted in requests to help establish similar magazines in France (Nos Regards) and Czechoslovakia (Svet v obrazech).
The uses of photography by the AIZ were part of a cultural network, which included publishing houses, film production and distribution companies, magazines, and newspapers to counter capitalism and to break the bourgeois media monopoly, including social democratic practices. These developments included the organization of a picture agency, Unionfoto (later Union-Bild), which began on May 1, 1930, in cooperation with and financed by Russ-Foto, the largest Soviet photo agency at the time. The agency supplied press photographs of the USSR and distributed the photographic output of worker/photographers from many countries (Beiler, 1967, p. 22).
Münzenberg's contacts and his cooperation with Soviet institutions was well known; his published reports about the Soviet Union were uncritical, however. They created the impression of a worker's paradise, despite contrary reports from the German left about the miserable living conditions and the economic plight of millions of Soviet citizens. For instance, Babette Gross (1991) commented on the deliberate use of the "Filipow" photo story in the AIZ, which was a blatant, cynical, and rather well known (among Soviet officials) propaganda effort that became a hit among German workers (pp. 238-39).
But while Münzenberg used photography in various publications since 1921, e.g., Sowjetrußland im Bild and Sichel und Hammer, the organized left had been slow in recognizing the importance of photographs for their newspapers. For instance, the 1921 Third World Congress of the Communist International in Moscow also dealt with how a progressive revolutionary working-class press could use photographs, among other visual materials, to gain and hold readers, especially, since the Communist press had been less than successful (Journalistik, 1958, p. 65); in 1925, the Communist Party in Germany pleaded with its editors to use illustrations more frequently in their newspapers. Even the central organ of the party, the Rote Fahne, still carried few illustrations during the mid-1920s (Büthe et al, 1977, p. 13). Münzenberg (1977) also lamented the lack of photographs in Communist publications through the mid-1920s, especially since "the picture influences children, youth, and the yet unorganized masses of workers, farm workers, peasants and similar groups, whose thoughts and feelings are simple" (p. 51).
Similarly, the moderate political left also remained cautious about the use of photographs. When the Social Democratic Party, in an attempt to strengthen its own press, debated how readers could be attracted by reducing the political content in favor of more reader-friendly material, there was an immediate fear of "Americanizing" the party press. Moreover, there seemed to be more interest in the aesthetic qualities of the material than in the ideological consequences of change. These discussions included the introduction of photographs, which had been sparingly used before and were typically provided by bourgeois press agencies rather than social democratic sources (Koszyk, 1972, p. 311). In fact, the first news photograph in the central organ of the Social Democratic Party, Vorwärts, did not appear until August, 1927 (Matthies, 1987, p. 70).
As photographs were reconceptualized to serve the specific political interests of the party, so were press photographers instructed to serve the cause of the working class. Under Münzenberg's influence by the end of the 1920s, photographs had become part of a new form of production, which allowed amateur photographers to help articulate the reality of working-class life. It involved teaching workers the use of cameras and the importance of documentation in support of political struggle; it also resulted in the subordination of the individual to the application of technology to political practice.
The Arbeiterfotograf, published between 1926 and 1933, provided workers not only with technical or conceptual information, but also engaged in theoretical discussions and supplied the foundations of a socialist theory of photography. Thus, worker/photographers were recruited from among amateurs, whose interests in photography were identified with their social or political mission rather than with professional prestige or income. In fact, the particular social-economic status of photographers as laborers or unemployed workers was a strategic position in the fight against the ruling class, since they were already on the front line of the struggle. As worker/photographers they joined artists like John Heartfield to produce a magazine similar to the AIZ that revealed the other side of life in Weimar Germany, the conditions of labor, and the fight against injustice. An understanding of press photography as agitation and propaganda defined their missions to uncover and control manipulation and fabrication of facts by the bourgeois press. Also, the preoccupation with technological aspects related to the latest cameras and equipment, and typical among middle-class photographers, was absent among worker-photographers. To their benefit, old Leica cameras without rangefinders were inexpensive, they cost 80 to 100 Marks and worker photographers began to use them in 1932; also, "Peggy" Kraus, Stuttgart, and "Contax," Zeiß Ikon, offered more inexpensive 35mm cameras used by worker-photographers (Arbeiter-Fotograf, 1932, p. 194).
Worker-photographers were concerned about making any equipment work to produce effective photographs.They sought to provide visual evidence of economically or politically significant events and combat the trivial or sensational picture coverage that distinguished bourgeois press photography in Weimar Germany. They followed their social and political instincts to confront bourgeois culture with a style of photography that was to reveal the harshness of proletarian life and the corruption of the middle class. Edwin Hoernle (1978) had called on workers to be the eye of the working class and to produce images that "show class consciousness, mass consciousness, discipline, solidarity, a spirit of aggression and revenge" (p. 49).
Thus, the discovery and deployment of photographs on the left was informed by the spirit of the documentary tradition in the Soviet Union, at least in Münzenberg's publications. But it was also a necessary reaction to the success of the bourgeois media, whose creative use of photographs had increased the popularity of illustrated magazines among the working class and threatened the demise of a party press (Communist and Social-Democratic) which had remained overly politicized, dull, and unattractive for many readers. Nevertheless, the decentralized activities of the left, particularly by the Münzenberg media, provided an alternative use of photographs as instruments of counter-propaganda, to influence the bourgeois public, and to direct the working class towards recognizing the potential of photography as a weapon. The Nazi press, on the other hand, did not tolerate journalistic practices that were not centrally conceived and subsequently ordered.

Theoretical insights into the power of photographs and editorial developments concerning the application of photographs were highly suggestive to the political far right. However, the employment of photography rather than language and texts for political purposes by the Nazi press was another matter. The Nazi press never participated in the conception of photography as a commercial product or social documentation until after 1933. It was delayed, if not disregarded for several reasons, most of them related to the hierarchical structure of the party press, funding, and the availability of photojournalists. According to Koszyk (1972), the lack of capital and the absence of journalists in the provincial Nazi press had marginalized these publications and reduced many of them to propaganda pamphlets (p. 384).
A 1931 review of the spread of Nazi newspapers accounted for 97 publications (among them 46 dailies), most of them located in Bavaria and Prussia (Deutsche Presse, 1931,p. 69). After the 1930 elections the number of daily newspapers rose quickly to reach 86 with a circulation of over 3 million by 1933 (Koszyk, 1972, p. 385). At that time, the record showed 120 Nazi publications (most of them weekly newspapers) among 4,700 newspapers in Germany with 7.5 percent of the total circulation. Eleven years later, however, 82 percent of the 970 remaining newspapers were owned by them (Wulf, 1966, p. 7). At that time, press photography was regulated and take-overs of the press and magazines resulted in a massive exploitation of images for political purposes.
Until then, the existing Nazi press had not been very effective in its use of photographic images. Even after Hitler had ordered the establishment of the Illustrierter Beobachter in 1926 by Heinrich Hoffmann, his personal photographer and the chosen "Bildberichterstatter" of the party, and Max Amann, Nazi publications from theVölkischer Beobachter to provincial weeklies did little to exploit the power of photography. Because of a general lack of adequate funding in the 1920s, the Nazi press was not only visually impoverished; according to Z. A. B. Zeman (1973), “technical equipment at the disposal of Nazi propaganda was rather primitive" (p. 24). In addition, the Nazis had initially restricted their propaganda efforts to political meetings and face-to-face encounters. They celebrated the success of their rhetorical skills. In Mein Kampf Hitler had already insisted on the priority of the spoken word, and a neglect of the written word in the Nazi press had been acknowledged as late as 1932 (Stein, 1987, p. 49). Instead, oratory became identified with the success of the Nazi party and was credited with the final victory. "In the Nazi beginning was the word -- print reinforced it, but in an ancillary capacity," according to Richard Grunberger (1971, p. 391).
There were individual attempts to improve the situation of the party press. For instance, Otto Strasser, who eventually left the NSDAP, in 1926 criticized the poor journalism of the party press as sensational and editorially thin; he also suggested improvements to attract and keep readers, including the use of news photographs (Stein, 1987, p. 71). Although his conceptualization was successful with his own newspaper, he had violated party policies. Instead, the press continued to be run by party functionaries, needed advertising revenue, and was circulated mainly among party faithfuls. The major publications were guaranteed a monopoly position within the ranks of the party press, including the use of picture supplements or the establishment of rival illustrated papers. Even after the 1930 elections, when the Nazis tried to gain control over the bourgeois press through infiltration rather than competition, their success was rather modest. In general, the Nazi press was considered an outcast with its extremist editorial messages, which did not fit the German experience of a party press; its content was controlled through directives of the party leadership, and its journalists were forbidden to work for other publications (Koszyk, 1972, p. 383).
An exception was Joseph Goebbels' Der Angriff by the beginning of 1933. It used single photographs to comment on social and economic issues, not unlike the practices of the AIZ, and to identify and attack Jewish businesses. In one case, the newspaper provided extended photographic coverage to report the murder of a popular SA man with a series of ten two-column photographs, spread over two pages, to visualize his funeral (Der Angriff, February 6, 1933).
Generally, however, the press lacked the support and talent of professionals, like photographers and picture editors, who probably never sympathized with the Nazi cause. In fact, Gidal reports that most of the important photojournalists had refused picture agencies the permission to offer their work to the Nazi press (1972, p. 26). Also, the conception of press photographers was ruled by centralized considerations and governed by the organization of the party press. The role of journalists in the party organization was contained within the definition of the Nazi press (by Hitler and Goebbels) as a political instrument of agitation and with strictly political goals; journalists, including photographers, were to serve as mobilizers under Goebbels' goal "not to inform, but to stimulate, incite, prod" (Stein, 1987, p. 101).
Also, during the early 1930s an anticipated party press service was supposed to include a picture service; but the photographic coverage, particularly of Hitler, continued to be directed by the party leadership. In this case, it belonged exclusively to Hoffmann by directive to editorial staffs throughout the country (Stein, 1987, p. 270). After 1933, however, there was a discussion of the wider use of Hitler photographs, based on the argument that images were powerful factors in creating public opinion (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1933c, p. 447).
With the time of the Nazi victory in 1933, the production and selection of photographic material was to be governed by the notion of responsibility to people and state which also defined the nature of journalistic work, including press photography, and controlled access to the profession. In the meantime, German publishers struggled against their own demise. But it was too late. They were denounced by Hitler who accused them of having betrayed his cause. The press law of 1934 changed the media landscape significantly.
Once in control of the German press through emergency decrees and new laws, the use of photographs for propaganda purposes became widespread. At that time press photography was redefined as a necessary instrument of Nazi enlightenment. A Nazi writer argued that its power of representation and appeal had popularized and reinforced the idea of race among large numbers of people and had aided the efforts to rally the population around specific causes (Wulf, 1966, p. 126). Willy Stiewe (1933b), one of the most visible writers on photography at that time, suggested that the future belonged to images. "We have experienced the powerful effects of the picture on the minds of the ordinary man, when the picture, falsified and retouched, was used deliberately as a weapon against Germany by dark sources." He also credited the power of photographs with the possibility of starting new, large newspapers, since the attractiveness of photographic images would effectively increase advertising revenues (pp. 3-4). Elsewhere he was among the first to demand a "cleansing" of the profession from photojournalists who acted irresponsibly towards the interests of Germany and whose profit motives were more important than their ethics. He also urged that the activities of German picture sources and their uses abroad be studied carefully (Stiewe, 1933a, p. 77).
But more importantly, when the control of the German press through state directives became a standard practice of the Nazi government, a series of specific and concrete recommendations about the use of photographs, issued on a daily basis or whenever needed, restricted news and documentary photography. They also provided editors with immediate government feedback to photographic practices. Official reactions ranged from reminders that Hitler portraits could only be published with his approval and through registered picture agencies (Wulf, 1966, p. 107), to detailed comments and criticisms that resembled movie scripts. There appeared one-paragraph notices in July and September 1933 that only German enterprises and Arian photographers were allowed to do business, foreigners were exempted (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1933a, p. 458; 1933b, p. 618). One of the reasons German photographers had liked working for foreign picture agencies after January, 1933 was that it was safer for those persecuted by the Nazis than any employment by domestic agencies -- but not for long (Kerbs, 1983, pp. 26-28).
Official guidance of photographic content did not occur until January 1934. At that time it was forbidden to publish photographs showing members of government and leading politicians at public functions, such as banquets. Violators were closed down (Toepser-Ziegert, 1985, p. 18). Since there were no earlier official restrictions, or official complaints to editors, this could be taken as a sign that initially photographs were not seen as dangerous or subversive. Obviously their regulation did not play a major role during the initial phase of press control by the Nazi bureaucracy.
Later, however, picture editors, particularly of magazines, were summoned to attend special conferences, like in September 1936, when the use of photographs against Bolshevism and in support of the party rally in Nürnberg was decided. At that time, the publication of tasteless and upsetting photographs, usually not found in the German press, was promoted to document poverty, forced labor, and atheism, and specific topics were assigned to be covered by illustrated magazines (Koszyk, 1972, p. 374). On another occasion in 1937, Goebbels expressed his anger over the use of boring photographs by the press. He promoted the use of lively and interesting photographs, condemned the use of clichés in the coverage of public events, and urged photographers to spend more time capturing interesting scenes (Koszyk, 1972, p. 378).
As a result, the Nazi press seemed to act conservatively in the adoption of photographs, but was actually short of funding while it was guided by central party orders and the consequences of Hitler's preference for speech, pure propaganda, and pamphleteering at the expense of journalistic practices. Thus, with some exceptions, the propaganda mission of the press did not include the widespread and consistent use of photographs. After 1933, however, and with the acquisition of much of the mainstream press and its editorial staffs, photographic images became welcome and essential instruments of propaganda. Indeed, as became apparent after 1945, the Nazis used photographs (and film) to meticulously document their atrocities.

The introduction of photojournalism during the Weimar Republic was the result of a collective awareness of the new potential of photographic practices that reached across different ideological territories and were influenced by developments abroad. It was applied effectively in producing commercial and political images while setting professional standards of the field.
However, with the exception of the magazine press, particularly of the left and the liberal and conservative mainstream, newspaper publishers, including political parties, were cautious about the use of photographs. The debate among organized publishers about the cultural mission of the press and its responsibilities towards an educated readership suggests a deeply conservative, if not reactionary attitude towards cultural innovation and technological progress. The discovery and deployment of photographs seemed more like a necessary, even unavoidable reaction to the increased popularity of illustrated magazines among all classes of German society. It was accompanied by a fear of losing readers and advertising revenue. In addition, the increasing popularity -- and the real or imagined effectiveness of visual representations of reality -- created a new threat to marginal publications. Among them were party newspapers, particularly regional and local publications with a lack of funding and personnel, but also with a tradition of an unrelenting orthodoxy in matters related to the definition of a party publication. Thus, the offerings of Communist, Social Democratic, or National Socialist newspapers remained highly politicized and unattractive to many readers, despite the fact that editors and party leadership knew better. The practice of photojournalism, notwithstanding the uses of photographs particularly in larger publications, magazines, or supplements, was never fully explored and utilized by newspapers before 1933. Its variety, however, suggests the presence of alternative productions of photography as journalism based on different social and class interests vis-a-vis the dominant social order.
The treatment of photographers paralleled the construction of photographs as journalistic or propagandistic means of communication. While the mainstream press discussed the needs for appropriate sources of picture material, recognizing photographers as journalists with cameras, newspapers on the left and right either counted on the potential of amateur (worker) photography or insisted on a controlled, politically motivated entry into the profession through selection.
In the end, political change rather than poor editorial judgments or bankruptcy accomplished the death of the left press and many bourgeois liberal and conservative newspapers and magazines. With it came the loss of opportunities for adaptation and innovation. Until then, and in the realm of magazine journalism only, the left had creatively employed photography in an effort to confront the pictorial representation of bourgeois reality. Although it catered to the interests of an enlightened working class and attracted the attention of professional colleagues and progressive readers, it may be assumed that it also served the Nazi press as an example of effective propaganda.
For instance, Hitler had watched the election posters of the Communist Party very carefully and the NSDAP successfully copied letters and forms of these posters in working class districts. Hitler also admitted that "we have selected the color red for our posters after careful and formal considerations, to tease and upset the left to come to our meetings, even if only to disrupt them, to be able to talk to these people" (Fischer, 1989, p. 65). Likewise, Goebbels must have observed the success of the AIZ, since an analysis of "Der Angriff" revealed many similarities in the production and use of photographs for propaganda purposes.
And finally, the Nazi party embraced the importance of the visual statement as an effective and necessary weapon in its propaganda efforts that followed its victory in 1933 without much delay, and as soon as the Weimar press, including its picture editors and photographers, was completely under Nazi control. For instance, in a report about press photography, a writer boasted by the end of 1933, that the number of picture stories was rising in daily newspapers and that the Völkischer Beobachter carried 500-600 photographs per month (Zeitungs-Verlag, 1933d, p. 44). Also, several top Nazi officials besides Hitler (Heinrich Hoffmann), including Hermann Göring (Eitel Lange), Robert Ley (Kurt Boecker ), and Joachim von Rippentrop (Helmut Laux) obtained their own photographers, (Kerbs, 1983, p. 30).
Prior to these developments, however, the climate of acceptance of photojournalism was produced by a challenge of traditional practices, notions of culture, and definitions of form or style of communication. It was characterized by the (political) strength of conventional interpretations of journalism and a reluctance to shift control over definitions and access away from the newspaper industry or political organizations to outsiders. They included individual photographers or picture agencies, particularly foreign ones, which provoked ideas about cultural domination.
In fact, the discourse about photography as journalistic practice was caught between the commercial and political intentions of newspaper publishers and the success of visual representations of reality in the public sphere. It was conducted in a general atmosphere of distrust among competing ideological interests, which became transparent in the application of photographs to making sense of the social, political, and economic conditions of Weimar society. Hence, the history of photography as cultural history permits not only a close look at the policies and practices of photojournalism, but also considers photographic images to provide context and content of being in the world.


1. Translation of German texts by the author unless indicated; the spelling of names in the text follows U.S. usage, although original references (in German texts ) contain different spellings (for instance: Rodchenko/ Rodschenko).


Arbeiter-Fotograf. 1932. Notice. 6:9 (September), 194.
Barnouw, D. 1988. Weimar Intellectuals and the Threat of Modernity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Barnouw, D.1994. Critical Realism. History, Photography, and the Work of Siegfried Kracauer. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Unversity Press.
Beiler, B. (Ed.). 1967 Berichte, Erinnerungen, Gedanken. Zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterfotografie, 1926-1933. Berlin: Deutscher Kulturbund.
Benjamin, W. 1969. The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. In H. Arendt (Ed.),Illuminations (pp.217-251). New York: Schocken.
Benjamin, W.1977. Kleine Geschichte der Fotografie. In Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit (pp. 45-64). Frankfurt: edition suhrkamp.
Brecht, B.1975. An der Schwelle des zweiten Jahrzehnts. In H. Willmann, Geschichte der Arbeiter-Illustrierten Zeitung, 1921-1938 ( p. 125). Berlin: Dietz.
Burgin, V. (Ed.).1982. Thinking Photography. London: MacMillan.
Büssemeyer, M.1930. Deutsche Illustrirte Presse. Ein Soziologischer Versuch. Dissertation. Heidelberg: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität.
Büthe, J. et al. 1977. Der Arbeiter-Fotograf. Dokumente und Beiträge zur Arbeiterfotografie, 1926-1932. Köln: Prometh Verlag.
Coke, V. D.1982 . Avantgarde Photography in Germany 1919-1939. New York: Pantheon.
de Mendelssohn, P.1959. Zeitungsstadt Berlin. Menschen und Mächte in der Geschichte der deutschen Presse. Berlin: Ullstein.
Deutsche Presse. 1931. Wieviel nationalsozialistische Zeitungen gibt es? 22: February 6, 68-69.
Deutsche Presse. 192.7. Wagenborg advertisement. 17:22-33, xxi.
Eyck, E.1962/63. A History of the Weimar Republic. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Fischer, G.1989. 'Wir stehen schon wieder mitten im Wahlkampf' - eine Analyse der Wahlpropaganda in der Weimarer Republik unter besonderer Betrachtung der NSDAP. Dissertation. Osnabrück: Universität Osnabrück.
Freund, G.1980. Photography and Society. Boston: David R. Godine.
Friedrich, O.1972 . Before the Deluge. A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s. New York: Harper & Row.
Frisby, D.1986. Fragments of Modernity: Theories of Modernity in the Works of Simmel, Kracauer and Benjamin. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Garai, B. 1966.The Man from Keystone. New York: Living Books.
Gay, P. 1968. Weimar Culture. The Outsider as Insider. New York: Harper & Row.
Gidal, T. N. 1993 .Chronisten des Lebens. Die moderne Fotoreportage. Berlin: edition q.
Gidal, T. N. 1972. Deutschland -- Beginn des modernen Photojournalismus. Luzern: C. J. Bucher.
Gross, B. 1991. Willi Münzenberg. Eine politische Biografie. Leipzig: Forum Verlag.
Grunberger, R.1971. The 12-Year Reich. A Social History of Nazi Germany. 1933-45. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Hale, O. J.1964. The Captive Press in the Third Reich. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Hardt, H.1979 . Social Theories of the Press. Early German and American Perspectives. Beverly Hills: Sage.
Hardt, H.1989. Pictures for the msses: Photography and the rise of popular magazines in Weimar Germany. Journal of Communication Inquiry 13:1 (Winter), 7-29.
Hardt, H.1992. Social uses of radio in Germany: An American perspective, 1924- 30. Journal of Communication Inquiry 16:2 (Summer), 7-20.
Heidegger, M. 1962 Being and Time . New York: Harper and Row. Originally published in 1927 as Sein und Zeit.
Hoernle, E.1978. The Working man's eye. In D. Mellor (Ed.), Germany. The New Photography. 1927-33 (pp. 47-49). London: Arts Council of Great Britain.
Journalistik, Fakultät für.1958. Geschichte der Deutschen Presse. Lehrbrief 10. Berlin: VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften.
Kerbs, D., Uka, W. & Walz-Richter, B. 1983. Die Gleichschaltung der Bilder. Zur Geschichte der Pressefotografie, 1930-36. Berlin: Fröhlich & Kaufman.
Khan-Magomedov, S. O. 1987. Rodchenko. The Complete Work. V. Quilici. Ed. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Korff, K.1994. Die Illustrierte Zeitschrift. In A. Kaes, M. Jay & E. Dimendberg (Eds.), The Weimar Republic Sourcebook. (pp. 646-647). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Koszyk, K.1972. Deutsche Presse. 1914-1945. Geschichte der deutschen Presse. Teil 3. Berlin: Colloquium Verlag.
Kozintsev, G., Trauberg, L., Yutkevich, S., & Kryzhitsky, G.1988. Eccentrism. In R. Taylor & I. Christie (Eds.), The Film Factory. Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents. (pp. 58-64). Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Originally published in 1922.
Kracauer, S.1977. Das Ornament der Masse. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.
Lachmann, I. 1932. Die Zukunft der Bildberichterstattung. Deutsche Presse 22/7: Februar 13, 75-77.
Laqueur, W.1974. Weimar: A Cultural History, 1918-1933. New York: G. Putnam.
Lavin, M.1993 .Cut with the Kitchen Knife: The Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Höch. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Lerg, W. B. 1980. Rundfunkpolitik in der Weimarer Republik. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag.
Lorant, S.1983. Interview with Stefan Lorant. Lenox, MA, May.
Lorsy, E.1994. Die Stunde des Kaugummis. In A. Kaes, M. Jay and E. Dimendberg (Eds.),The Weimar Republic Sourcebook. (pp. 662-663). Berkeley:University of California Press.
Man, F.1984. Man with Camera. Photographs from Seven Decades. New York: Schocken.
Matthies, J. 1987. Zur Entwicklung des SPD-Zentralorgans"Vorwärts." Berlin, 1923-1933. Diplomarbeit. Leipzig: Karl-Marx-Universität, Sektion Journalistik.
Mellor, D. 1978. London-Berlin-London: A cultural history. The reception and influence of the new German photography in Britain 1927-33. In D. Mellor (Ed.), Germany: The New German Photography 1927-1933. (pp.113-130). London: Arts Council of Great Britain.
Michelson, A. (Ed. 1984. Kino-Eye. The Writings of Dziga Vertov. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Mills, C. W.1956. The Power Elite. New York: Oxford University Press.
Mitchell, W. J. T. 1994 . Picture Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Molderings, H.1978. Urbanism and technological utopianism. In D. Mellor (Ed.), Germany: The New German Photography 1927-1933. (pp. 87-94). London: Arts Council of Great Britain.
Münzenberg, W. 1977. Propaganda als Waffe. Frankfurt: März.
Neumann, E. (Ed.).1993. Bauhaus and Bauhaus People. New York: Van Nostrand.
Ohrn, K. & Hardt, H.1981. The eyes of the proletariat: The worker-photography movement in Weimar Germany. Studies in Visual Communication 7:3 (Summer
1981), 46-57.
Pachnicke P. & Honnef, K. (Eds.)1992. John Heartfield. New York: Harry N. Abrams.
Pachter, H. 1982. Weimar Etudes. New York: Columbia University Press.
Phillips, C. (Ed.).1989. Photography in the Modern Era. European Documents and Critical Writings, 1913-1940. New York: Aperture.
Roland, G.1977. Fotografie als Waffe. Geschichte der sozialdokumentarischen Fotografie.Hamburg: VSA.
Saunders, T. J. 1994. Hollywood in Berlin. American Cinema and Weimar Germany. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Smith, C. Z. 1986. Black Star picture agency: Life's European connection. Journalism History 13:1 (Spring), 19-24.
Stein, P.1987. Die NS-Gaupresse 1925-1932. Forschungsbericht--Quellenkritik--neue Bestandaufnahme. München: K.G. Saur.
Stern, F.1965. The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology. Garden City, NY: Doubleday/Anchor.
Stiewe, W.1933a. Das Zeitungsbild in der Staatspropaganda. Deutsche Presse 23:7 (April 15), 76-78.
Stiewe, W.1933b. Der Kampf um das Bild. Zeitungs-Verlag. Fachblatt für das gesamte Zeitungswesen. 4: November 4, 3-4.
Stiewe, W.1930. Schacher mit den Passionsspielen. Deutsche Presse 20/17 (April 26), 168.
Toepser-Ziegert, G. 1985. NS-Presseanweisungen der Vorkriegszeit. Band 2: 1934. München: K. G. Saur.
Villard, O.G.1933. The German Phoenix. The Story of the Republic. New York: Harrison Smith & Robert Haas.
von Hofmannsthal, H.1921. Der Ersatz für die Träume. Das Tagebuch 2, 685-87.
Watney, S.1982. Making strange: The shattered mirror. In V. Burgin (Ed.),Thinking Photography. (pp. 154-176). London: MacMillan.
Willett, J. 1984. The Weimar Years: A Culture Cut Short. London: Thames & Hudson.
Willett, J.1978. Art and Politics in the Weimar Period: The New Sobriety 1917-1933. New York: Pantheon.
Williams, R.1980. Problems in Materialism and Culture. London: Verso.
Wulf, J. (Ed.).1966. Presse und Rundfunk im Dritten Reich. Eine Dokumentation. Hamburg: rororo edition.
Zeitungs-Verlag.1928a. Die kulturelle Bedeutung des Zeitungsbildes. Zeitungs-Verlag. Fachblatt für das gesamte Zeitungswesen 29: March 31, 637-640.
Zeitungs-Verlag.1928b. Ein neuer journalistischer Berufszweig: der Bildredakteur. Zeitungs- Verlag. Fachblatt für das gesamte Zeitungswesen 30: July 28, 1617.
Zeitungs-Verlag.1928c. Der Presse-Photograph. Zeitungs-Verlag. Fachblatt für das gesamte Zeitungswesen 18: May 5, 901-904.
Zeitungs-Verlag.1930. Die Verflachung der Bildberichterstattung. Zeitungs-Verlag. Fachblatt für das gesamte Zeitungswesen 29: July 19, 1181-84.
Zeitungs-Verlag.1931. Bildsünden der deutschen Presse. Zeitungs-Verlag. Fachblatt für das g esamte Zeitungswesen 32: February 7, 99-100.
Zeitungs-Verlag. 1932. Die Bilderfrage und die Tageszeitungen. Zeitungs-Verlag. Fachblatt für das gesamte Zeitungswesen 31: July 30, 528.
Zeitungs-Verlag. 1933a. Nur deutshe Unternehmungen für Bildberichterstattungen. Zeitungs-Verlag. Fachblatt für das gesamte Zeitungswesen 34: July 15, 458.
Zeitungs-Verlag. 1933b. Nur noch arische Pressephotographen. Zeitungs-Verlag. Fachblatt für das gesamte Zeitungswesen 34: September 23, 618.
Zeitungs-Verlag. 1933c. Führerbilder - Freie Benutzung oder Nachbildung? Zeitungs-Verlag. Fachblatt für das gesamte Zeitungswesen 34: Juli 8, 447.
Zeitungs-Verlag. 1933d . Sondernummer zur Ausstellung DIE KAMERA, Presse-Photo. Zeitungs-Verlag 34: November 4, 44.
Zeman, Z.A.B. 1973 Nazi Propaganda. London: Oxford University Press.