DER SÜSSE KRIEG (The Sweet War)
Dates2018 - 2022
A series of dreamlike images that show my primal fears of war and the loss of my youngest son who joined the army this year.
Since years I am investigating the effects of war on my family and on myself. My grandfathers Willy and Walter became soldiers of the Deutsche Wehrmacht, leaving their wives and children behind to go to war.
Willy’s first military operation was part of „Unternehmen Barbarossa“, invading the Soviet Union and blockading the city of Leningrad. The Germans destroyed the main warehouses of food supply, in that first winter of the siege 1941/42 alone, 470000 Leningraders died of starvation. Willy was a field cook, he had access to all kinds of food, what may he have felt or done when he saw the misery of the inhabitants? In 1945 Willy got lost in the woods of High Tatra, probably shot by partisans, he is still a „missing person“, his picture can be found on the Red Cross website. The only thing he left my mother is a medal, the soldiers called it „Gefrierfleischorden“, frozen meat medal.
Walter was a vehicle driver, part of Heeresgruppe Nord and the invasion of Russia. In May 1945 he was sent to Soviet labor camps in Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk and Novomoskovsk, where he worked in quarries and road construction. He later noted that he earned 12 rubles for those years. In 1948 Walter returned to his hometown of Hamburg, devastated both mentally and physically. Despite being ill and half-starved, he was still able to father a child. His sixth child. He forced my grandmother to have an abortion, she never got over that pain.
We children have inherited the trauma of war, it seemed unthinkable that a member of my family would ever become a soldier again. But now my youngest son, 18 years old, wants to join the Bundeswehr, he did not listen to his pacifist mother and signed up as a medical soldier. After 3 generations, war seems to be very attractive again.
I made a dreamlike story about it, in which my primal fear of the war, the loss of my child are shown, but which are contrasted with the temptation of adventure, masculinity and community.
„Dulce bellum inexpertis.“ (War seems sweet to the inexperienced.) Pindar, 518 – 438 BC