Lothar Beck & Max Dans, Beerdigung (Funeral), 1978

Cover back and front

Cover back and front

 

 

It was the cover of this small, landscape format book which initially grabbed my attention. Each photograph (placed mostly on the right) is accompanied by a short explanatory text on the opposite page. Intermittently there are double pages, bare of images, with a text taken from a contemporary newspaper report.

On 27th October 1977 photographer & pedagogue Max Dans attended the funeral of Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe. He was one of the many photographers and journalists that day, hoping to get some good shots to sell to news agencies. Baader, Ensslin and Raspe were the founders and leaders of the Roten Armee Fraktion (Red Army Fraction), also known as the Baader-Meinhof Group who allegedly committed collective suicide while in prison. They were accused of several bombings, which caused the deaths of four people.
Most media coverage of the funeral excluded and ignored the fact that a massive police force were present, in and around the Stuttgart-Degerloch graveyard. Max Dans wanted to show his perspective of the funeral. While later looking through the photographs with priest friend Lothar Beck, they came up with the idea of making this book.

The book opens with a statement by the authors: Gewidmet allen noch lebenden Widerstandskämpfern des Dritten Reiches mit der dringenden Bitte um die rechte Vermittlung ihres freiheitlichen Geistes ehe sie von uns gehen (dedicated to all (still-) living resistance fighters to the Third Reich, begging them urgently to pass on their spirit of freedom before they pass away). We are then shown the open graves, and the graveside one and a half hours before the funeral takes place. The closer it gets to the funeral, the more the space around the graves fills up with journalists and photographers. The funeral becomes a public spectacle.

For me the point the book makes is that a State should not fight terrorism with terrorism, or in other words: violence creates more violence. It is a complex theme, and an almost angry book, making a strong political statement. It certainly has its place in the history of protest photography books.

30 photographs (including the cover image) by Max Dans

2 pages text by Lothar Beck & Max Dans

2 pages text by the publisher

Published by Internationalismus Verlag in 1978

Soft cover

App. 24.6 x 17.7cm

80 pages

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