German History Intersections is a source-based digital project that examines three broad topics – migration, knowledge and education, and Germanness – from 1500 to the present. By charting these topics across centuries, the project offers an alternative to traditional histories that focus on discrete historical periods.
The tranquilizer gun that Michael Grzimek used while filming the documentary Serengeti Shall Not Die shows how users change technology by introducing new practices that expand, or even subvert, the original intentions of inventors – driving home a point that historians of technology have made time and again in recent years. I chose to include this photograph in the project because it shows a complete reinterpretation of the tranquilizer gun. Grzimek’s modifications turned a device originally intended for hunting and killing into an instrument for protection and conservation – he stunned wild animals not to kill them, but to mark them and give them veterinary care.
Christopher Neumaier, Leibniz Center for Contemporary History, Potsdam, and Helmut Schmidt University, member of the “Knowledge and Education” working group