Curator: Katarina Jurjavčič
In 1952, the Current Materials Collection instituted the Fototeka of the National Museum of Contemporary History. The collection was the first to be systematically collected and curated. The photographs of the Current Materials Collection are limited to events of World War II, thematically divided into Partisan, anti-Partisan, German and Italian sections. The material comprises about 150,000 negatives and 15,000 glass plates.
At the beginning of the war, field photography spontaneously emerged among Partisan units. In 1942, most photographs were taken by the Partisan units’ leaders (Mirko Bračič, Jule Sočan, Jože Kotnik). Photography boomed after the capitulation of Italy, when the photographic activity slowly began to be more organized. Then artistic expression can be observed even in the documentary photography as more professional photographers joined the Partisan army. The cultural scene relocated to Kočevski Rog, and with it Božidar Jakac, whose photographs, mostly Leica negatives, are also part of this collection. In regard to military units, the Cankar Brigade was mostly photographed by the amateur photographer and history professor Fran(jo) Veselko. As the head of the Photography section of the Information and Propaganda Department at the Presidency of the Slovenian National Liberation Committee (SNOS) between April 1944 and the end of the war, Veselko significantly contributed to the organization and the principles of the development of photojournalism during the war. In the winter of 1943/44, most of the photographs were taken by Vinko Bavec, Mirko Trobec, Miloš Brelih and Gojko Pipenbacher, as well as Marjan Masterl in Upper Carniola. The march of the 14th Division was recorded by Jože Petek, while Iztok Lipar, Stane Lenardič, Miroslav Lilik worked in Styria, and Ciril Brvar in Kamnik. Additionally, not much would be known today about Partisan healthcare without the efforts of Dr Janez Milčinski. Best known among the professional photographers are Edi Šelhaus (Dolenjska, Bela Krajina), Čoro Škodlar in the Slovene Littoral, the member of the SNOS photo section Alfred Kos, who photographed cultural gatherings, two other members, Stane Viršek and France Cerar, and also Milan Štok, member of the photo section of 7th Corps. Photographic footage of the overseas brigades represents a special set of photographs that supplemented the collection in the 1950s.
Photographs of the Anti-Partisan Formations
The Current Materials Collection also holds a small number of photographs depicting village militia, Chetnik detachments or Yugoslav Army in the Homeland. Photographs of the Slovene Home Guard represent a more sizable part of photographs of anti-Partisan formations; there are some photographs of Slovenian National Defence Corps also known as the Slovene Littoral Home Guard, and Upper Carniolan Home Guard. These segment of the collection mostly depicts oath-taking, awarding of orders, various celebrations, funerals, and commemorations; the rest are portraits.
The origin of the majority of photographs is unknown, however, some bear the inscription of Ivan Pavlovčič, a member of the Organisational Staff of the 4th Detachment of the Slovene Home Guard.
Photographs of the German and Italian Occupiers
This section of the collection is organised according to locations and events. It consists of photographs depicting various events, from the arrival of Adolf Hitler to Maribor, Hitlerjugend (Hitler’s Youth) rallies, NSDAP (The National Socialist German Workers' Party), to celebrations, and hostage shootings. A special segment features photographs of the exiled (547 photographs).
Photographs of the occupier are also divided thematically: the arrival of the Italian army, the Emona Company, the fort and bunkers, the barbed wire fence around Ljubljana, the council, the raids, the Italian organizations, life in Ljubljana, etc. At this point, some ten photographs shot in Ljubljana and its surroundings between 1941 and 1943 by the Italian officer Diego de Henriqez should be mentioned.
Permanence and quality of the negatives and glass plates were compromised as they were made during World War II in unfavourable conditions for taking and developing of photographs. In April 1953, a photo-laboratory was added to the Fototeka, enabling the reconstruction of the decaying negatives and creation of negatives from newly-acquired material. The lending of the originals was terminated.14 The aforementioned copies are also stored in the collection of negatives, which contains as many as 7,107 items.
The Current Materials Collection is the main source of visual material for the research of World War II.