The Volkskorper Photographs of Erich Retzlaff 1929-1945

Christopher Peter Webster

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Proceeding (Non-Journal item)


This paper explored the photography of Erich Retzlaff (1899-1993) from a metaphysical and physiognomic premise. Retzlaff was a German photographer who has become at best a footnote in all the varied histories of photography due largely to the approbation he received from Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist government. This general neglect is unfortunate as Retzlaff's work is highly significant in relation to his experiments with the innovative Agfa colour films of the 1930s, his studio portraits and his ambitious ideological catalogue of the German working classes (and agricultural workers in particular) that he made between the two world wars. By examining Retzlaff’s own photographic works, the paper assesses Retzlaff’s use of photography to physiognomically deliniate the notion of Volkskörper, that is, the visualisation of the National Socialist folk-community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHISTART 13
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2013
EventHISTART 13 - Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 29 Nov 201330 Nov 2013


ConferenceHISTART 13
Period29 Nov 201330 Nov 2013


  • ideology
  • photography
  • Erich Retzlaff
  • national socialism
  • physiognomy


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