Fuhrer security zone / Obersalzberg
With 300,000 visitors a year, the Kehlsteinhaus at Obersalzberg is among the most popular excursion destinations in the Berchtesgaden area. It attracts hikers and history buffs who come for a small exhibition at the foot of the mountain, but its historic authenticity also means that its appeal to adherents of Nazi ideology is undiminished. For a long time, the book and souvenir store in the building, which the NSDAP gave to Hitler on his fiftieth birthday, mainly sold glossy brochures containing propaganda photographs and keepsakes decorated with Nazi motifs.
In multifaceted and usually serial projects, Tanja Boukal examines the per- ception and truth content of photographic images related to political, historic, or social events. In 2009, she travelled to Obersalzberg to take photographs of tourists in the so-called “Führersperrgebiet,” or Fuhrer security zone. With the help of old land register maps, she also identified the locations of Hitler’s former mountain retreat and the residences of several Nazi grandees around it (with the exception of the Kehlsteinhaus, the build- ings were demolished after the war), where she collected slabs of slate. using digital collage, she then pasted black-and-white photographs by Heinrich Hoffmann showing Hitler in everyday moments – taking a walk hand in hand with a little girl, seated at a table, petting his dog – into her new pictures and applied the composite images directly to the stone slabs. Boukal’s meticulous montages interweave past and present, writing history on a support medium that is not only a witness to its time but also confronts us with the scene of the events, the “Führersperrgebiet.” Just as Hitler, in the images, mingles with the crowds of visitors, his propaganda is indelibly in- scribed in this building and the entire region; World War II is part of our historical legacy.