Targets - Nobel Peace Center

Nobel Peace Center


  1. Photo: Johannes Granseth / Nobel Peace Center
  2. Photo: Johannes Granseth / Nobel Peace Center
  3. Photo: Johannes Granseth / Nobel Peace Center
  4. Lebanese soldiers on shooting practice.

    Photo: Herlinde Koelbl / Agentur Focus
  5. The first target Herlinde Koelbl shot 30 years ago.

    Photo: Herlinde Koelbl / Agentur Focus
  6. Targets from Germany.

    Photo: Herlinde Koelbl / Agentur Focus
  7. A target from a Norwegian military camp.

    Photo: Herlinde Koelbl / Agentur Focus
  8. A target photographed by Herlinde Koelbl in Germany.

    Photo: Herlinde Koelbl / Agentur Focus


25 Sept 2015–22 May 2016

Targets is a photo exhibition that show how images of the enemy are created. The German photographer Herlinde Koelbl has travelled the world to take pictures of the targets soldiers use when they are training to kill. 

On a cold winter’s day 30 years ago, the German photographer Herlinde Koelbl visited a military camp in her homeland. As she walked across the shooting range, she saw a silhouette full of bullet holes. The early morning light was shining through the perforations. It was a beautiful sight, but also an illustration of power and aggression. Koelbl took a picture of the target. It was never published, but the idea for the exhibition Targets was born.

Over the past few years Herlinde Koelbl has visited military training camps in 27 countries, and photographed the targets that the soldiers use when they are training to kill. She has been in Europe, the USA, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, China, Russia, Turkey and Israel. Only North Korea denied her access.

I never felt guilty about killing people who deserved to die. In my eyes they deserve to die because they are the enemy. I am trained to think that way.

(Anonymous soldier, interview from exhibition)

“I wanted to show how the enemy is depicted in different parts of the world,” she says. “Some targets have faces and look like real people. Some look like children, or your neighbour. The enemy has many faces and a different appearance, depending on where in the world you are.”

Herlinde Koelbl has also taken portraits of those who may themselves end up as living targets: the soldiers. A video installation and excerpts from Koelbl’s conversations with the soldiers accompany the photographs. They provide a glimpse of the challenging position the soldiers are in.

War is the chess game of the politicians,
and we are the figures.

(Anonymous soldier, interview from exhibition)

Targets opened at Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin in 2014. It is shown for the first time outside Germany at the Nobel Peace Center from 25 September 2015.

“I think it is a very good place to show this project. Some of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates were called terrorists in the beginning. Who is a terrorist, who is a freedom fighter?” asks the photographer.

Watch a short interview with photographer Herlinde Koelbl: