The small town of Weimar has become synonymous with German culture. As the home of some of Germany’s most famous poets and musicians, as the place where the Bauhaus was founded and where, with the Weimar Republic, Germany first attempted to become a democracy, it holds unparalleled importance for the country’s national identity.
Yet it is also here, only a few kilometers outside the city gates, where in 1937 the National Socialists built the Buchenwald concentration camp, hidden in plain sight from the townsfolk of Weimar. Until it was freed by the American army in 1945, thousands of people were tortured and killed here. "Nowhere is the most beautiful and sublime that people have achieved so close to the most evil and terrible that they have committed.“, the Holocaust survivor Ivan Ivanji wrote of Weimar and Buchenwald.
This unique and tragic coexistence is the reason why today countless school trips are undertaken every year, where young students are confronted with the good and the bad side of German history and where they are encouraged to question such simple dichotomies.
In this on-going work, I photograph these young visitors in both Weimar and Buchenwald, as they move through these spaces and try to make sense of the past that is presented to them. Consistent with themes found in my previous work, this project is at once a meditation on the interweaving of past, present and future and an observation of a younger generation, as they confront both the burden and potential of history.