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Lukas Meissel

Junior Fellow (10/2020 – 8/2021)


The Perpetrator‘s Gaze. SS Photographs Taken at Concentration Camps


Web MeisselThis PhD project focusses on perpetrator photography in Nazi concentration camps, specifically photographs taken by SS men and developed at Erkennungsdienste (identification departments). The images produced there include portraits of deportees, photos of prisoners conducting forced labour, construction sites and buildings in the camps, corpses of murdered inmates, events such as ceremonies or visits by delegations and Nazi officials, as well as private photographs of SS personnel. The aim of the project is to investigate not only what these pictures show, but to interpret them as visual perpetrator narratives of the concentration camps. The photographs highlight how the camps were supposed to work according to the SS, therefore they represent an idealised reality that never actually existed. A central argument of the project is that the photos played a decisive role in legitimising the camps within the SS and at certain points beyond the inner circle of perpetrators.


Lukas Meissel is a PhD candidate at the University of Haifa. His doctoral project analyses photos taken by SS men at concentration camps. Prior to his studies in Israel, he worked as a historian for the Jewish community of Vienna and as deputy chairperson of the Verein Gedenkdienst. He also worked on projects on behalf of Yad Vashem and guided numerous study trips. Meissel has held fellowships in Israel, the USA, Germany, and Austria and has published on visual history, Holocaust studies/education, and antisemitism.


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July 2024
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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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