Dean O'Brien's Blog

Book Review: ‘I Believe In 88’ by Pieter Wisse

with 3 comments

Twitter has been a god-send to me in many ways, but none other than the ability for me to come across photographer’s and their work.  This is where I first discovered the work of Dutch photographer, Pieter Wisse.

On 20th April 1995 Pieter was stabbed by skinheads in Vienna, Austria.  14  years later Pieter decides to confront what has happened to him and travels to the former Eastern Germany to document the lives of various neo-nazis.  The result was the production of a book called ‘I Believe In 88’.  Pieter states ‘I Believe In 88 is a photography book thats shows a different perspective to the neo-nazis than the usual fighting and alcohol consuming icons we have in our minds.  It is a document about the day to day life of a neo-nazi within their own environment’.

Producing this book took a lot of courage I have no doubt of that.  Facing past demons and turning a negative experience into something positive.  It documents the lives of these individuals.  Pieter states ‘I went to former Eastern Germany to document the lives of various neo-nazis.  I tried not to limit myself with all the prejudice I had, concerning this group of people that live on the boarders of our society, but to look with an open mind’.  It is with a narrative like this that I feel the book is more than one would first imagine it to be.  We all have our own pre-conceived ideas as to what skinheads and neo-nazis are and how they live their lives.

The book achieves what it has set out to do.  To give an insight and un-biased view into this world.  A world not a million miles away from any european city.  As well as images taken by Pieter there is a a great introduction written by journalist Klaus Farin who takes us deeper into the background of this scene.  Not only the background of the subjects, but it probes deeper into what it means to be a neo-nazi today.  He states ‘Being a member of the right wing extremist scene is no hobby.  It requires total engagement, not only at all times but also with the involvement of one’s total personality’.  He goes on to state  ‘The thesis ‘once a nazi, always a nazi’ is false.  People change – and this holds true for neo-nazis’.

The hardback book is very high quality and contains 90 images.  It can be purchased HERE

More work of Pieter’s can be seen at and if you are on Twitter you can follow him HERE

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Written by Dean O'Brien

June 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with , , ,

3 Responses

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  1. Great book. Great project. Great confrontation.

    Bert Teunissen

    June 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

  2. I totally agree. Superb project with such a strong sense of narrative.

    Dean O'Brien

    June 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

  3. Congratulations Peter! You did an excellent work with this project. Hope to find your book on a bookstore in Portugal!
    Keep up the good work you are doing also with the 500 Photographers blog.

    Hugo Santos

    June 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm

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