Photos from the Front (2009)
DVD / Color
48 min / Full Screen
Directed by Martin Luksan

Produced by Petrus van der Let
ISBN 978-0-8026-1096-6

To be obtained of Alibri Publishers,
Price appr. € 27.-


As the war in Europe escalated, German commanders anticipated the anxiety their troops were feeling as they braced themselves for conflict. In a strategy to distract soldiers from thinking too much about their ultimate purpose, they were encouraged to take up photography. Cameras were relatively inexpensive, and taking pictures allowed the men to cope with their hardships by viewing war almost a hobby. After the war, the pictures were saved in photo albums, many of which later became common items for sale in Viennese flea markets.

In Fotos from the Front, several of these Photographs have been collected, capturing a perspective of World War II that has rarely been seen before. With intimate views of the 1940 Blitzkrieg in France and the attack on Russia in 1941, rank-and-file soldiers as well as press photographers preserved their experiences, while also trying to present World War II as one big adventure. In this film, images, newsreel clips, historical analyses and interviews with surviving soldiers focus not on battles but instead on the soldiers' day-to-day routine and provide a rare – and sometimes graphic – glimpse into the workings of the German war machinery.

     Critics Reviews / New York

Austrian filmmaker Martin Luksan approaches the well-worn subject of World War II from an unusual angle: amateur photography created by German soldiers on the front lines. Inexpensive cameras coupled with do-it-yourself photo-developing kits enabled soldiers to capture their own distinctively human view of life during wartime. Many of the images iIIustrate the camaraderie of the troops – good-natured clowning for the cameras that seems far removed from the master race propaganda spewed by the official Nazi media. Other photographs offer a surprisingly positive portrait of how some German troops displayed kindness to people in the occupied villages of France and Russia. In contrast are the startingly graphic shots showing the destructive nature of war, including cruesome pictures of dead civilians and images of once-grand buildings reduced to rubble. In interviews, surviving soldiers speak freely about life at the front and how their photos helped them stay connected to loved ones, while newsreel clips and historical analyses are used to supplement their commentary. Photos from the Front provides a glimpse of humanity in the midst of war’s cruelty and horror. Recommended.

P. Hall, Video Librarian