The Frog Prince

Work in progress

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By spring 2024, five sound illustration works have been concluded in the IN-R project since 2020. We warmly thank HK-Dir for the support that enabled us to make these artistic research projects. From July 2024 I retire from my position as Professor of Illustration at the KMD Faculty in Bergen in order to still develop certain parts of the project.

As in the other branches of IN-R I will not work alone: Marek Woloszyn has been involved in the archive research, documentation, sound and video recording in many parts of the project. He is also my husband, and a fellow illustrator. This is the first time we work together, where our artistic expressions will be intertwined.

The archive research is finished, but some artistic research remains, even if we now must rely on other sources of funding. In previous works, we have explored Polish, Norwegian and Soviet identities in various illustration-as-sound project. We have now come to the question of representing a Nazi-German identity: Hans Aumeier was a German SS-Commander assigned by Himmler to oversee the construction and administration of the planned consentration camp at Momarken, Norway.

Frottage illustration 

With the graphic novel The Frog Prince, we step closer to a traditional definition of illustration: Frottage illustration and QR-codes are applied to tell a story in a visual language and through sound. 

All though frottage is often associated with the Surrealist movement and Max Ernst in particular, frottage has been used in cultures all over the world for centuries. The purpose [of frottage, e.r.] is to transfer the underlying material's contours, pattern and relief to the paper. The process is often repeated so the finished image can consist of a combination of prints from several different substrates, writes Erik Mørstad. Could frottage hold abilities to shed light on aspects of  historic material in a particular way? Our aim is to explore how the Nazi ideological content, the ethetics and  beliefs may be visible as reliefs in our work. This dark cultural heritage should be scrutinized with a certain consideration. It would be naïve to overlook the dangerous power that the Nazi ideology and esthetics hold on postwar popular culture. 

Visual representations of the Nazi era; playing with fire? 


We question the consequences of bringing up over and over representations of Nazi-German war criminals, their ideology and cultural elements (uniforms, symbols etc.) - and whether such work can lead to wiping out the borders between fiction and true events. Nazi chic.


Steven Heller unearthed the Nazi Party's official design and branding guidebook (2011). Acknowledging the dark attraction that these elements contain, would it not be better to let it fall into the dustbin of history? There is something about fascist esthetics that tends to come back again and again, every time we think these things have been buried. I remember the fashion scene in the early 1980-ies, which led me to discover Susan Sonntags essay on how these ideals thrived in contemporary art and fashion (1974).

[... A]fter the collapse of the Nazi regime, the symbols, mythologies, and themes of this disturbing era still pervade popular culture (Abbenhuis,  Buttsworth & Rosenfeld, 2010). In the seventies, rock bands such as Sex Pistols ( Today Show, Bill Grundy, ITV. December 1976) and The Sweet (Kidd, 2011) used inspiration from the black SS uniforms designed by SS-Oberführer Prof. Karl Diebitsch and graphic designer Walter Heck (McNab,  2013, p 90). 


Film makers behind war films  have been accused of toning down the most cruel aspects of some of the Nazi perpetraitors.  Steven Spielberg portrayal of Amon Goeth in Schindler's List has been criticized the antagonist that makes the audience buy the portrayal of Oscar Schindler as a 'protagonist', despite his many flaws. Spielberg has argued, that if he had explicidly shown the most cruel known war crimes committed by Goeth, the audience would have left the cinema.


With this project, we have come to the conclusion that by shedding the light on the thoughts these symbols and brand actually contain, people get an opportunity to reflect om the ideological ideas embedded, and make their own choices accordingly. 


Exploring representation of a Nazi-German perpetrator through illustration


Is it possible to avoid falling into the trap of stereotyping when illustrating Nazi-German identities? Aumeier's arrival to Norway happened only days  before the Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz. The mission he had been given by Heinrich Himmler, was to construct and run a fullscale consentration camp on Norwegian territory.

He was a man of experience: In Auschwitz, he had been second in command to Rudolf Höss, and he was known as a brutal thrug, who among other war crimes ordered the execution of female prisoners by shooting. Aumeier is by many considered the biggest Second World War criminal caught in Norway, but when the Allied forces interrogated him after the Nazi-German defeat, they found no monster, writes reporter Alf R. Jacobsen (2015). Instead they saw an illiterate, previously unemployed blockhead. Jacobsen implies Aumeier never showed any remorse for the many crimes he was convicted for. However, reading the court documents from the trial in Krakow in 1947, we would like to nuance this image. When asked about how he felt about killing children, Aumeier did make a comparishment to his own daughter, who was still a child at the time. It is easy to hate a person who may be dismissed as a thug or brute, a drunk and thief (according to his superior in Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss). But eighty years later, should we not go through the material once again to try to see all facets of this story?

What if there are past experiences in a persons life, that make them gravitate towards evil, can we then understand them better. Should they be forgiven for their crimes due to a difficult back story? This is not only a question relevant to history; we should ask the same question when we study the lives of Harris and Klebold, who planned and executed the school shootings in Columbine, the mass murderer Breivik in Oslo and Utøya, Torrent, the murderer behind the Christchurch mass shootings, Manshaus who murdered his sister before he failed at pulling through a mass shooting in a mosque in Norway, Manapourd

By travelling to the places we know Aumeier has been during his war years, we will record site-specific sounds in these places, to use in sound design for additional material in the project. This has previously been done in the main project Sound as Illustration, where we made an archive of sounds from Momarken horse racing ground and its surroundings.  




REFERENCES (Work in progress)

Abbenhuis, Maartje & Buttsworth, Sara & Rosenfeld. (2010). Monsters in the Mirror: Representations of Nazism in Post-War Popular Culture.

Heller, S. (2011), Iron Fists: Branding the 20th Century Totalitarian State. Phaidon Press. 

Jacobsen A.J. Dagbladet May 16th 2015

Den største krigsforbryteren som ble tatt i Norge i 1945: 18000 jøder ble gasset ihjel i hans nærvær


Kidd, L. K. (2011). "Goose-Stepping Fashion: Nazi Inspiration"(PDF)Paideusis - Journal for Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Studies


Manchel, F. (1995). A Reel Witness: Steven Spielberg’s Representation of the Holocaust in Schindler’s List. The Journal of Modern History67(1), 83–100.


 McNab, C. (2013). Hitler's Elite: The SS 1939–45, Osprey.

Sonntag, S. (1980) Fascinating Fascism. Essay in the collection Under the Sign of Saturn. Penguins Modern Classics.

Above:  Click image to see film of a frottage process. In this test we used a lasercut template, but one can rub surfaces like cement, wood, plants, gravestones etc.

Above:  Click on arrow to the right to see more visual content.

Visual research

What will the graphic novel look like in  its final stage? Probably nothing like the images you see here in the left columns. This is our starting point, and our discussions on visual language has already uncovered many paths to explore. While we have probably gone through the most important sources regarding Aumeiers war crimes in Norwegian, German and Polish, in recent weeks we have begun exploring image material available online about Amberg, where he grew up.  Born in 1906, he would have been a young boy during First World War. Amberg does not appear in many articles about this war, but we came across a strange image with the title German Military Activities, World War I. (Right to this column). The image seems to belong to National Museum of U.S. Navy, but we have so far been able to retrieve only limited information. Who were the war prinsoners? According to information found in the web page of the Western Michigan University [1], the prisoners in this camp were French and Russian. Were the prisoners participating in the play? Or is the image simply taken  - in the Casino (!) in the camp? At this stage we do not know.

What the photo provides, is the information that in the relatively small city where Aumeier spent his childhood, there was a war prisoner camp. Western Michigan University also has a photo taken of baraques and soldiers in the camp, taken in 1915. Other sources estimate the camp had about 5000 prisoners [2]




A postcard showing a panorama of Amberg  dated 1906, the same year Aumeier was born. The city center appears to still have many of the histroic buildings intact.  

“Prisoner of War Casino Camp at Amberg, Germany. Performance of “The Marmoset Kid”. Photograph by F.J.M. Reshe, Munchen, Germany. 



Enamel factory in Amberg in the early 0th centory


Amberg history 1870-1910


Lokal industry /professions in his childhood (1907)

Agriculture/Forestry: 5,3 %

Industry/Mining: 55,1%

Trade/Transport: 10%
Changing services/wage work (without housing?) 0,5%
State/municipal/church service: 14,7%

Without profession: 14,4%
 (Source above, p. 42)




Archive research 

Forsvaret, Forsvarets overkommando II, RA/RAFA-3915/D/Db/L0001: CI Questionaires. Tyske okkupasjonsstyrker i Norge. Tyskere., 1945-1946, s. 431Forsvaret, Forsvarets overkommando II, RA/RAFA-3915/D/Db/L0001: CI Questionaires. Tyske okkupasjonsstyrker i Norge. Tyskere., 1945-1946, s. 431

 Click on arrow to the right to see more visual content.


Full name: Hans Aumeier

Born in Amberg 20.8.1906 

Parents: Josef and Anna Aumeier

Address: Steinhauserstrasse 1, Amberg (the building no longer exists)

Married to Berta (nee Schmid) born 1910

Child: Erika, born 1931.

German saying: 

„Lerne was, dann kannst du was;


Kannst du was, dann wirst du was;


Bist du was, dann hast du was“


1912-15 Elementary school 

1915-1918 Secondary school 

1918 Fitter apprentice with small private firm

1919 Turner and fitter in a rifle factory

1923-24 As above, but as qualified craftsman

1924-25 Unemployed

1925 After unsuccessful attempt to join the army returns to former rifle factory 

1925-26 Unemployed

1926 (summer) unemployed

1926-29 Casual (wandering) laborer all over Germany

1929 Unemployed

1931 February Main office SA worked in card index

1931 Transferred to SS where he worked in a garage

1934 January 15 Joined the Totenkopf Verband in Dachau.

1934 Promoted to Unterstormbannführer

1935 Promoted to Overstormbannführer. After training he became isntructor for new recruits. 

1936 Himmler visiting Dachau - Aumeier to the left?

1937 Spring Posted to SS Kp WEIMAR, Guard Reichsstatt halterei and Home Minestry

1937 July Burg Vogelsang Guard squad leader

1938 January Returned to Dachau to finish his Führer course.

1938 In Austria during Anschluss.

1938 October with the same units in Auschwitz, Franzenbad and Eger (Hungary)