Karl Hintzer

May 11, 2018

Karl Hintzer, an Estonian photographer, took pictures in several refugee camps in Germany after the war. Geislingen was one of the camps he visited. Geislingen was overcrowded, however, when you look at the pictures Karl Hintzer took of the streets you wonder: where is everybody?

How is it possible he could take pictures as if it was the most quiet place you could think of? Empty streets, or just a few people walking around. The feeling of an early Sunday morning, when everyone is still asleep.

After reading about Geislingen, about the amount of people living in one house, guessing at the numbers of people living in one street, the pictures form an enigma. At the same time they tell a story: of a small undisturbed town, where the wartime years had left the surroundings untouched.

In the pictures there is no sign or hint of a before and after, a period so decisive for the refugees. It is an aesthetic point of view, maybe a moment to forget what had been, to show what is still there and could be the future for the Estonians in Geislingen: living in a peaceful place.

There are other photographers like A. Kalme who shows streets full of people, waiting, walking, talking. There are also school pictures by other photographers, family pictures, pictures of events, but also the official portraits to be send to sponsors in other countries, or to use for official documents.

All pictures tell a different story, all direct the view in a specific way, neither right or wrong – just different. Sometimes I wonder what is outside the frame, what is left out, what is not told. What does the photographer want us to see, but also: what not?

The same question can be asked with a story, a newspaper article, but also with a documentary film. The answer would be a multitude of other stories.  

The next question would be: on what grounds was this decision made to choose one image, one story, one point of view rather than the other. I can tell from my experience that the decisions are not made easily but are the outcome of a continuous struggle.