Jewish Identities and Photography

  • Maiken Umbach
  • Scott Sulzener
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Migration History book series (PSMH)


Much of our knowledge about the German-Jewish experience of National Socialism has been derived from written sources. Private photography provides a novel perspective on this history. In our analysis, documenting personal lives and experiences in photographs—and collating the results into lavish, usually captioned albums—was, first and foremost, a means of staking out a German identity. For the Salzmann family, these claims to belonging were grounded in service during the First World War, shifting towards their participation in both traditional and new forms of leisure and conspicuous consumption in the interwar years. Underpinning each series of photos was the aspiration to perform membership in an educated German middle class, or Bildungsbürgertum. This habitus was not disrupted by Nazism’s rise; if anything, 1933 provided an incentive to intensify this ‘performance’ of belonging.


Jewish identity History of private photography Travel photography Bildung German nationalism Jewish life in Nazi Germany 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maiken Umbach
    • 1
  • Scott Sulzener
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Department of HistoryUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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