World War II photographs from the collections of the National Museum of Contemporary History
13. 3. 2020 – 31. 12. 2020
Authors: Katarina Jurjavčič, dr. Monika Kokalj Kočevar, dr. Miklavž Komelj
The Camera and War: World War II photographs from the collections of the National Museum of Contemporary History showcase selected works by famous and unknown, professional and amateur photographers and offer an insight into an invaluable part of Slovenian visual cultural history. Photos by partisan reporters show footage from partisan units and liberated territories, in which a vibrant political and cultural life took place. Photographers in occupation units and photographers working in occupation administrations recorded activities of military units and events held by various organizations. The motifs captured by the photographers are mostly documentary. Few have upgraded them with an artistic component. Most of the photos were taken for propaganda purposes. The photographs of the partisan resistance movement are by far the largest number of surviving photographs, while those of the other parties involved are only fragmentary. The thematically arranged photographic images of the exhibition transcend their temporal dimension and emphasize the central motifs of war photography. Motifs of the arrival of occupying units, civilian life in cities and rural areas, and escalation of violence are highlighted. Motifs of military life depict everyday life, unit movements and preparations for fighting. The importance of culture was emphasized by all parties involved in the conflict. The role of women became more complex during the Second World War, as expressed by the motifs. During the war, photographic services organized within propaganda services collected and distributed material on a systematic and central basis and placed them in archives. The extraordinary visual heritage created under difficult circumstances has thus been preserved and remains a fundamental pictorial resource for exploring World War II. The collections of photographs of the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia from the Second World War contain approximately 165,000 units of material. Photographs in the exhibition are complemented by museum objects, fine art, posters and audiovisual material.