“Home Story” launches the Berghof Project
“Home Story” draws its inspiration from the book “I was Hilter’s Maid” written by Pauline Kohler and published by John Long, London in 1940. The American edition from the same year was called “The woman who lived in Hitler’s House”.
Kohler’s narrative is set in the Berghof in Berchtesgaden, a key site related to the Hitler story, and a place that achieved a mythic status in the minds of both the Germans and the Allies during World War Two. The book is the supposed biography of an ex-employee named ‘Pauline Kohler’ who apparently worked at the Berghof in the years leading up to the WWII and after it began. Between 1940 and 1948 the story was published world-wide in at least seven different languages including Chinese.
I came to this project after being invited to create a work for an exhibition in Melbourne based upon books censored in Australia from before the turn of the 20th to the beginning of the 21st century. I chose this title from a long list because it related to Munich where I was living at the time and gave me an opportunity to engage with the history of my new environment.
“I was Hitler’s Maid” became the starting point of my conceptual journey through the architecture of the Third Reich.
During my research I discovered this book was potentially developed by the British War Office as part of a black propaganda campaign supposedly giving an insider’s view on the life of the German dictator. In the light of this suggestion the question of who the “real” Pauline Kohler was became another focus of my project.
“Home Story” seeks to reimagine the spaces in which numerous important international diplomatic meetings took place in the lead up to the Second World War and where Kohler’s pre-war story is set.
This work was inspired by a censored book and was exhibited in the exhibition “Banned Books in Australia” exhibition at Melbourne University during 2010.