Every Friday The Psychogenealogist shares a "Pic of the Week." The intent is to encourage thought and imagination about the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge.
This week's photo caught my eye on eBay. The only description was: "Workers Industrial Shop Workshop Office Machine Vintage 1920s." I liked the composition and the stern, somewhat somber faces of these men.
Upon closer high resolution inspection there was another detail that I became curious about. If you look above the head of the man on the left you'll see something hanging on the wall. On the top of that wall hanging appears to be a swastika. See the enlargement below.
Given the association of the swastika to German Nazi party, and the man's icy stare, the photograph takes on a more sinister feel. The swastika is so instantly associated with evil, given the atrocities leading up to World War II and beyond, it is hard to imagine the symbol meaning anything else.
That said, my cursory research led me to this wikipedia entry: Western use of the swastika in the early 20th century. I found another interesting BBC News article: How the world loved the swastika - until Hitler stole it.
You'll also notice a Fairbanks Springless Dial Scale to the man's left. In 1919 a catalog was published detailing some of the different models of Fairbanks scales and examples of how they were used across a variety of businesses. You can click on the image to explore the catalog.
The only other identifying detail I could find in the photo came from a high resolution scan of the calendar to the left of the man in the middle. It appears to say "First National Bank" Followed by "Cimmaron - Kansas". See below. Cimarron is a city in Kansas that was settled in 1878. Today it has a population of about 2200. Was this the First National Bank in Cimarron that the calendar refers to?
I love a good photo mystery like this one. I could use your help in fleshing out some of the details. Let me know what you think. Email me if you want me to send you a high resolution filed so you can examine for yourself. There may be some other details that I haven't been able to decipher.
In the meantime, here are some questions to consider:
- When was this photo taken and what kind of shop is it?
- How is the swastika being used?
- What are the words below the swastika?
- Are their Nazis in your family tree?
- Are their holocaust survivors in your history? Victims?
- How has tragedy and trauma in your history impacted you today?
- What are the psychological impacts of antisemitism, both current and historical?
Do you have an old photograph or a genealogical story that you would like to share? I am happy to consider guest submissions for possible Pic of the Week or other blog posts in the future. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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