Rank-and-file soldiers or press photographers, they all tried to present World War II as one big adventure: this is reflected in the photo albums of privates – a staple of Viennese flea markets – but also in the wealth of press images that are stored in archives. Martin Luksan has studied the image material available in Vienna and compiled it into a film that provides an intimate view of the Blitzkrieg in France in 1940 and the attack on Russia in 1941. The images, interviews and newsreel clips that make up his film are not concerned with battles or their analysis: they give a glimpse of the soldiers’ day-to-day routine and the workings of the German war machinery.
“Photos from the Front” does not aim at explaining to viewers the psychology of the commanders, but rather at prompting them to imagine the unimaginable. The film shows the different phases of war, the destroyed world of the enemy, as well as moments of idyll at the height of war. When the privates stopped taking photographs in 1942, the press corps photographers, aided by the SS, continued to take pictures. Historian Michaela Pfundner explains the background of this frenzied photographic activity. A critical, dense film about the ambivalence of war photography in general.