This essay demonstrates that Kurt Tucholsky’s and John Heartfield’s photobook Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles (DD), published in 1929, aimed to unveil the actual condition of the Weimar Republic by addressing and educating the working class. The worker-readers of DD are supposed to see themselves differently with the help of the photobook’s combinations of texts and images that imitate an assembly line – a view familiar to the worker. This essay shows that, what I call “functional montages” – an extension of the photomontage that combines industrial and cinematic montage – allow worker-readers to both recognize themselves in DD, while at the same time gaining the ability to take a critical stance on their position within the German public sphere. This shows not only how Tucholsky and Heartfield are educating workers by employing the technique of montage; DD also exemplifies how the idea of intermediality is not just a procedure of translating images from one medium to another. Instead, it is the images’ potential to create visual narratives that allows for a juxtaposition of photographs and texts in the target medium, following a combination of cinematic and industrial montage principles. This shows that intermediality is less a transfer of media elements than a transfer of their narrative potential.
Intermediality, montage, photobook, Kurt Tucholsky, John Heartfield