#1: Unknown photographer, 1942, “The mine detection test. From the Donez to the Don”, No. 74, Heer 481, Archiv Reiner Moneth, Norden
#2: Walter Gerloff, 1940, German soldiers on Arc de Triomphe, Paris
#3: Numbered list of 142 photos / “Vom Donez zum Don”

The surprising discovery of part of a numbered list of 142 photos (see picture #3) led to efforts to track down an album depicting the advance of a special infantry division in the Ukraine in June/July 1942. Identical photos of this section of the front have since been found in five collections of differing origins.

Among the typical depictions of advancing army forces, battle scenes and pictures of destruction, there is one photograph (#1) that at first glance does not fit into this context of war images. It leaves the viewer feeling slightly disturbed without knowing precisely why. The number 74 is written on the back of the photograph, however this number is missing from the torn picture list.

The context was only revealed when the identical photograph with a description on the reverse was found in another album. The caption reads: "Die Minenprobe. Vom Donez zum Don 1942" ("The mine detection test. From the Donez to the Don 1942"). The picture shows the deadly implementation of the order to use the so-called mine detection device 42:

As enemy mines are to be expected, sufficient numbers of mine detection device 42 (Jews or captured members of partisan groups with harrows and rollers) are to be made available.

More than seventy years after the outbreak of World War II the following generations negotiate more than ever the consequences and memories from that time. How are often secretive photo archives, stored in cabinets and drawers, handled?

EXHIBITION „Fremde im Visier”

The pictures above are part of the exhibition Fremde im Visier (private photos of Wehrmacht soldiers in World War II) at Universalmuseum Joanneum in Graz, Austria.

Exhibition dates:
Oct. 20, 2012 - Sep. 01, 2013

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