Aus der Lebensgemeinschaft des Waldes – The German Forest in 3D

RAUMBILD WARNING: This post contains stereographic images from Raumbild-Verlag Otto Schönstein, a company that was largely controlled by the Nazi party between 1936 and 1945. If you are offended or disturbed by imagery containing Nazi symbols, leaders, salutes, or the like, please click away. In no way do I personally, nor this blog as a forum, support Nazism, and any comments which appear to do so will be removed and their posters blocked.

Aus der Lebensgemeinschaft des Waldes

Some time during the year 1939, Raumbild-Verlag Otto Schönstein released a somewhat strange folio. I say “strange” not because the content itself (the German forest) is weird; it’s obviously comparatively pedestrian. Rather, it’s strange subject matter for Raumbild to choose for publication. It’s also rather strange inasmuch as Heinrich Hoffmann is not the principal photographer for the folio – Dr. Kurt Dieterich took the pictures, many of which are gorgeous macroscopic images. Like all of Raumbild’s Nazi-era releases, the photographic quality is excellent. Unlike most Raumbild folios, which contain 100 stereoviews, Aus der Lebensgemeinschaft des Waldes contains 150.

The impetus for scanning these was an upcoming lecture series planned for August. However, due to issues of censorship and loss of total creative control with the host organization, I have backed out, and will be looking for another venue in which to present. Stay tuned for more information as I reschedule the talks, which include roughly 400 stereoviews as well as a ton of great information and three primary theses which will be controversial to say the least.

“Beauty Propaganda” and the German Forest

While this tome is unique in that it describes, with its many photos, an outdoor region, it has the same purpose as almost every Nazi-era Raumbild volume: to sway people towards accepting the Nazi regime and its principles. Take a look at the following stereoview:

Aus der Lebensgemeinschaft des Waldes - Bild Nr. 7: Tannenhochwald im Nordschwarzwald
Bild nr. 7 – Tannenhochwald im Nordschwarzwald (Fir forest in the northern Black Forest)

A beautiful fir forest, with the ground carpeted in growth. All of which pops out at the viewer in stunning 3D – even more impressive if the viewer is unfamiliar with the format. I don’t know about you, but I’d be booking my ticket as soon as I could. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few days traipsing through the Black Forest, especially if they’d never seen it before? Dr. Kurt Dieterich makes the forest look like an incredible – and weird – landscape, somewhat reminiscent of the meat mincer in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker:

Scene from Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker".
Imagine how many amazing movies we’d had if the Third Reich had decided to stop being dickheads obsessively invading countries, and started focusing on making arthouse films. Incidentally, The Soviet Union created a trove of amazing arthouse films after the war.

At the same time, the reader is given a thick, detailed manual outlining the various species found in the pictures. Of course, as with any stereographic volume, reading the text is not necessary. The point is that, just like the Raumbild albums on various cities (Prague, Nürnberg, München), Aus der Lebensgemeinschaft des Waldes is designed to both show the beauty of the subject (the German forest) and to make it stand out against other subjects. I’d say it succeeds better than most Raumbild albums, but then I did just spend a day scanning and editing the images I plan on using for the lecture and some others.

Thus I’m going to post the images that I’ve finalized as a slideshow with no particular context – I don’t speak German, so I’ll reproduce the caption text, but I’m not going to get into the book here today. You can enjoy these rather amazing (one gross) images without text like me, or buy yourself a copy – they practically give this book away given its low average sale place, which is a fraction of that of the more sought after books. In any case, enjoy the gallery as it is, still beautiful after 81 years:

And of course, an anaglyph gallery for those who can’t free view:


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