Visualising the Eastern Front: Heimatschutz and Survey Photography During the First World War

Ewa Manikowska



This article discusses the photographic surveys undertaken on Polish occupied lands in the framework of the German war-time Landeskunde and Kunstschutz research projects. It presents the photographic collections produced in the General Government and Ober Ost, held in larger and smaller archives, widely popularized both on the front and at home by means of the press, albums, scientific and popular publications, postcards, lantern lectures and exhibitions. It argues that the advancement of the front provided a unique opportunity for such explorations and that the German surveys were the first of such reach and scale to cover all of Polish territories. The article also traces the possible close collaboration between German and Polish scholars, photographers and institutions. In particular it juxtaposes the survey initiatives undertaken by the Warsaw civic societies with the projects of the Landeskundliche Kommission and the Warsaw Hofbauabteilung. In addition, it focuses on the close collaboration between Jan Bułhak and the German art historians in Vilnius.


survey photography; cultural heritage; First World War; Poland; German Occupation

Full Text:



Applegate Celia, A Nation of Provincials. The German Idea of Heimat (Berkeley, 1990).

Edwards Elizabeth, The Camera as Historian: Amateur Photographers and Historical Imagination, 1885–1918 (Durham, 2012).

Evans Andrew D., Anthropology at War: World War One and the Science of Race in Germany (Chicago, 2010).

Holzer Anton, Die Andere Front. Fotografi e und Propaganda im Ersten Weltkrieg (Darmstadt, 2012).

Joschke Christian, Les yeux de la nation – Photographie amateur et société dans l’Allemagne de Guillaume II 1888–1914 (Paris, 2013).

Kauffman Jesse, Elusive Alliance: The German Occupation of Poland in World War I (Cambridge MA, 2015).

Koshar Rudy J., Germany’s Transient Pasts: Preservation and National Memory in the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill, 1998).

Kott Christina, Préserver l’art de l’ennemi? Le patrimoine artistique en Belgique et en France occupées, 1914–1918 (Bruxelles et al., 2006).

Lekan Thomas M., Imagining the Nation in Nature. Landscape Preservation and German Identity 1885–1945 (Cambridge MA, 2004).

Levey Evonne A., ‘The German Art Historians of World War I Grautoff, Wichert, Weisbach and Brinckmann and the activities of the Zentralstelle für Auslandsdienst’, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, lxxiv (2011), 373–400.

Liulevicius Vejas G., War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity and German Occupation in World War I (Cambridge MA, 2000).

Störkuhl Beate, ‘Art Historiography during the World War I. Kunstschutz and Reconstruction in the General Government of Warsaw’, Kunstideadusilkke Uurimusi, xxiii (2014), 157–81.

Swenson Astrid, The Rise of Heritage. Preserving the Past in France, Germany and England 1789–1914 (New York, 2013).

Wardenga Ute, ‘German geographical thought and the development of Länderkunde’, Inforgeo, xviii–xix (2006), 127–47.

Partnerzy platformy czasopism