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Perpetrators

Perpetrators
Perpetrators
Philippe Mesnard
Traduction de Anneleen Spiessens
p. 41-49
Cet article est une traduction de :
Perpetrators

Notes de l’auteur

Perpetrators. Etymology: < post-classical Latin perpetrator person who perpetrates something, especially a crime or evil deed (4th cent.) < classical Latin perpetrat-, past participial stem of perpetrare + -or. Compare Middle French perpetrateur (c1450).

Texte intégral

Courtroom of the Eichmann trial.

Courtroom of the Eichmann trial.

Where the trial of Adolf Eichmann took place in 1961. Originally, it was Jerusalem’s Beit Ha’am (People’s House) theatre.

© All rights reserved.

1Could it be that victims are overly exposed in our society? That they are too present? Endorsing their struggle for recognition, their demands and their hopes, should we be wary of the danger of saturating our collective memory? Of submerging or tainting it? Perhaps victims in general occupy a prominent position  an all too prominent one, according to some  in today’s discourse on and representations of violence. Maybe so. But then again, what are we to make of the visibility of notorious criminals in our culture? They are no less visible than the victims, but strangely enough, they are not targeted by the critics. Their visibility is “natural” to us, so it seems. Their portraits, their smiles, their replications, their presence, their topicality, have been stirring our imagination for centuries, to the extent that we have now become accustomed to a certain level of darkness. For writers, they are a source of inspiration, leading to the publication of a brilliant best-seller every now and then. Criminals also populate the blockbusters of our time. In sum, our culture and everyday-life is permeated by the figure of the perpetrator.

2Some readers might feel uncomfortable with our decision to juxtapose their images, creating some kind of family photo album, as it were. Especially because the album shows them in different situations and postures, making them look more or less flattering or arrogant. Moreover, what is left from them is often not even their portrait but their attributes  SS, swastika, moustache –, which goes to show just how omnipresent Nazi references are in our society. It is through their attributes that these infamous men continue to metonymically impose their presence and keep circulating, from one poster to another. After 70 years of “Never again”, the least we can do is to devote a portfolio to them.

Barbie at his trial in Lyon.

Barbie at his trial in Lyon.

If they have not forgotten, that’s their business.” Klaus Barbie in May 1987, on the opening of his trial in the courthouse of Lyon.

© Sony.

Slobodan Milosevic in Ophuls’ Veillées d’armes.

Slobodan Milosevic in Ophuls’ Veillées d’armes.

You can see whatever you want here.” 1994. The Troubles We’ve Seen: A History of Journalism in War Time by Marcel Ophuls. On the screen: Slobodan Milosevic, President of Serbia.

© Little Bear.

Photo of Saddam Hussein on a poster at the time of his trial.

Photo of Saddam Hussein on a poster at the time of his trial.

2006. Nessuno tocchi Caino (Hands Off Cain), an Italian NGO, published a poster of Saddam Hussein at the time of his trial, asking whether “it is murder to kill a murderer”.

© All rights reserved.

Billboard in Poland for Dani Levy’s film: Mon Führer.

Billboard in Poland for Dani Levy’s film: Mon Führer.
Billboard for Dani Levy’s burlesque film Mon Führer: La Vraie Véritable Histoire d’Adolf Hitler [My Führer: The Real Authentic Story of Adolf Hitler, 2007.

© Philippe Mesnard.

Graffiti on posters of candidates at elections in Poland.

Graffiti on posters of candidates at elections in Poland.

Poznan. Parliamentary elections of 2007. Graffiti on the candidates of the Civic Platform (the party is still in power today and holds a majority in Parliament).

© Philippe Mesnard.

Bus shelter in Berlin indicating the former office of Eichmann.

Bus shelter in Berlin indicating the former office of Eichmann.

2007.Bus shelter indicating the nearby location of the building where Adolf Eichmann held his office, not far from the zoo.

© Philippe Mesnard.

Topography of Terror in Berlin.

Topography of Terror in Berlin.

2008. Permanent exhibition.

© Philippe Mesnard.

Mussolini on a kitchen apron.

Mussolini on a kitchen apron.

2003. Garda, Italy. Kitchen apron with a print of Mussolini, among a vast choice of designs.

© Philippe Mesnard.

Poster of the film Ilsa, la louve des SS.

Poster of the film Ilsa, la louve des SS.

In the 1970s, numerous pornographic films came out that were inspired by the sadistic practices the SS or the Nazis performed on the deported. This film genre is known as Gestaporn or pornonazi. In the photo, we see the DVD of a renowned series based on the legend of Ilse Koch (1974, director Don Edmonds).

© All rights reserved.

Poster of a concert of the group KISS in the metro in Paris.

Poster of a concert of the group KISS in the metro in Paris.

2008. Paris Metro. I have always been a little taken aback by the famous double S of the even more famous American rock band, even though there doesn’t seem to be any neo-Nazi reference.

© Philippe Mesnard.

Mao with a red nose on the cover of Télérama.

Mao with a red nose on the cover of Télérama.

Paris. You are not mistaken: Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong) is actually wearing a red nose on the cover of Télérama.

© Philippe Mesnard.

Bust of Stalin in Moscow, 2013.

Bust of Stalin in Moscow, 2013.

2013. Moscow. Bust of Stalin. Today it is not unusual to find busts, calendars and other decorative objects with Stalin’s portrait, indicative of a discreet but undeniable process of rehabilitation.

© Philippe Mesnard.

Monopoly of the GDR.

Monopoly of the GDR.

Before 1989. Monopoly game called “Stalinallee” (GDR).

© Philippe Mesnard.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Courtroom of the Eichmann trial.
Légende Where the trial of Adolf Eichmann took place in 1961. Originally, it was Jerusalem’s Beit Ha’am (People’s House) theatre.
Crédits © All rights reserved.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 544k
Titre Barbie at his trial in Lyon.
Légende “If they have not forgotten, that’s their business.” Klaus Barbie in May 1987, on the opening of his trial in the courthouse of Lyon.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 168k
Titre Slobodan Milosevic in Ophuls’ Veillées d’armes.
Légende “You can see whatever you want here.” 1994. The Troubles We’ve Seen: A History of Journalism in War Time by Marcel Ophuls. On the screen: Slobodan Milosevic, President of Serbia.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 144k
Titre Photo of Saddam Hussein on a poster at the time of his trial.
Légende 2006. Nessuno tocchi Caino (Hands Off Cain), an Italian NGO, published a poster of Saddam Hussein at the time of his trial, asking whether “it is murder to kill a murderer”.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 260k
Titre Billboard in Poland for Dani Levy’s film: Mon Führer.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 400k
Titre Graffiti on posters of candidates at elections in Poland.
Légende Poznan. Parliamentary elections of 2007. Graffiti on the candidates of the Civic Platform (the party is still in power today and holds a majority in Parliament).
Crédits © Philippe Mesnard.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 236k
Titre Bus shelter in Berlin indicating the former office of Eichmann.
Légende 2007.Bus shelter indicating the nearby location of the building where Adolf Eichmann held his office, not far from the zoo.
Crédits © Philippe Mesnard.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 284k
Titre Topography of Terror in Berlin.
Légende 2008. Permanent exhibition.
Crédits © Philippe Mesnard.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 128k
Titre Mussolini on a kitchen apron.
Légende 2003. Garda, Italy. Kitchen apron with a print of Mussolini, among a vast choice of designs.
Crédits © Philippe Mesnard.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 256k
Titre Poster of the film Ilsa, la louve des SS.
Légende In the 1970s, numerous pornographic films came out that were inspired by the sadistic practices the SS or the Nazis performed on the deported. This film genre is known as Gestaporn or pornonazi. In the photo, we see the DVD of a renowned series based on the legend of Ilse Koch (1974, director Don Edmonds).
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 344k
Titre Poster of a concert of the group KISS in the metro in Paris.
Légende 2008. Paris Metro. I have always been a little taken aback by the famous double S of the even more famous American rock band, even though there doesn’t seem to be any neo-Nazi reference.
Crédits © Philippe Mesnard.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 168k
Titre Mao with a red nose on the cover of Télérama.
Légende Paris. You are not mistaken: Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong) is actually wearing a red nose on the cover of Télérama.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 508k
Titre Bust of Stalin in Moscow, 2013.
Légende 2013. Moscow. Bust of Stalin. Today it is not unusual to find busts, calendars and other decorative objects with Stalin’s portrait, indicative of a discreet but undeniable process of rehabilitation.
Crédits © Philippe Mesnard.
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 928k
Titre Monopoly of the GDR.
Légende Before 1989. Monopoly game called “Stalinallee” (GDR).
URL http://temoigner.revues.org/docannexe/image/1333/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 193k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Philippe Mesnard, « Perpetrators », Témoigner. Entre histoire et mémoire, 119 | 2014, 41-49.

Référence électronique

Philippe Mesnard, « Perpetrators », Témoigner. Entre histoire et mémoire [En ligne], 119 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2015, consulté le 24 avril 2017. URL : http://temoigner.revues.org/1333 ; DOI : 10.4000/temoigner.1333

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Philippe Mesnard

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