Zeppelin Nights

For this week, I have gone for a picture related to my dissertation on the civilian responses to Zeppelin raids in Britain. While there seems to be a wealth of information and focus on the battles of the First World War for the centenary commemoration, little has been considered about the home front and the response to the war there. Particularly poignant today as the anniversary of the first Zeppelin raid on Britain.

Throughout the war many took up writing diaries, aware of the future historical importance of the events unfolding around them, but also as a way of displaying their own personal testimony in the light of what I can only imagine was an overwhelming situation. Is it possible that those taking pictures during the war were equally aware of their future importance? And their use as discussion points in our seminar?  Capturing a snapshot of events as they unfold, the timing and composition probably more of a fluke than due to careful planning, it is unlikely the photographer could foresee the use of the picture in the narrative of the Great War.

For me this picture evokes the full multiplicity of responses that manifested during the raids. The excitement of the light show, the helplessness that civilians felt until  technological advances allowed Zeppelins to be effectively gunned down, and the fear from threat of bombing. While all present, the aesthetics detract from the reality of the situation. The scene appears almost staged; a puppet Zeppelin in a sky of streamer lights. The air ship itself is almost hiding in the beams of the search lights, attracting the viewer’s attention to the chaos of beams rather than the enemy Zeppelin.  Equally with very little ground shown in the pictures, only the tops of trees being visible, it is detached from its civilian target, almost appearing harmless. Trapped in the beams of light rather than appearing a menace the Zeppelin becomes a harmless curiosity. I do not envy them swinging beneath their explosive balloon!

While I have not used pictures in my dissertation, looking for a picture for the blog has made me reconsider this, it may even save me a few words.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/uknews/9153063/The-worlds-biggest-collection-of-airship-memorabilia-goes-on-sale.html?frame=2171590

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One Response to “Zeppelin Nights”

  1. Hi, it’s Rick! I seem to be unable to post on the blog (I might not have been added) but I’ve posted my thing at the address below
    https://remmerich.wordpress.com/

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