Petra Bopp

 Portrait Petra Bopp

Petra Bopp

Art Historian and Curator

In Residence

April 2013, September 2013

April 2014 – May 2014

April 2015 – May 2015

Februar 2017 – April 2017

Research Project

Regards croisés franco-allemands dans l’Europe en guerre (1939-1948)

The many albums of photographs taken by German occupying forces during the Second World War constitute a highly diverse fund of private snaps. Building on the exhibition Fremde im Visier. Fotoalben aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg [Strangers in Our Sights. Photo Albums from the Second World War], which presented photographs taken by German soldiers in Poland and France—the accoutrements of war, action on the front line, daily life in the army, civilians, and prisoners of war—in the upcoming exhibition, Regards croisés franco-allemands dans l’Europe en guerre (1939–1948), the gaze of the cameras of those living under occupation meets the gaze of the cameras of the occupiers. Whereas German soldiers were exhorted by Goebbels at the beginning of the War to bolster official propaganda with their own photographs, Polish and French citizens living in occupied territories—flouting the National Socialists’ ban on taking pictures—often secretly photographed the German occupying forces to support their own resistance movements and, in France, to fulfill official commissions from the Vichy regime. Individuals in Poland and France were called on by their various political organizations to bear witness to the hostilities and their own resistance by taking photographs—“Use your cameras!” as the Mayor of Warsaw put it in 1939.

What is the role of photography as a historical source and as an aesthetic object in this formation of Evidenz? How did these images of alien cultures come about—in public life and in domestic settings, in different political and social contexts? What impact do these images have on us today? What do they tell us of the perceptions, experiences, and mentalities of those caught up in the Second World War? How can opposing views be juxtaposed in an exhibition?

Research Interests

  • Photography and art under National Socialism
  • War photography in the twentieth century
  • Orientalism in photography and the visual arts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries


With Camera in Combat. German Soldiers’ Photo Albums of World War II, in: The Photograph and the Collection, Graeme Farnell (ed.), Edinburgh: MuseumsEtc 2013 (forthcoming).

Fremde im Visier. Fotoalben aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, Bielefeld: Kerber 2009 (2nd ed. 2012).

„Die Kamera stets schussbereit.“ Die Fotopraxis deutscher Soldaten in den beiden Weltkriegen, in: Das Jahrhundert der Bilder, Gerhard Paul (ed.)  (vol. 1), Göttingen: Verlag Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2009, p. 164-171.

Rasse und Schönheit des Orients. Lehnert & Landrocks Fotografien als Widerschein kolonialer Blicke in Postkarten und Bildbänden der zwanziger Jahre, in: Worte, Blicke, Träume. Beiträge zum deutschen Kolonialismus in Literatur, Fotografie und Ausbildung, Sven Halse (ed.), München u. Kopenhagen: Fink 2007, p. 93-164.

Viewing the photographs of Willi Rose, in: Shadows of War. A German Soldier’s Lost Photographs of World War II, Thomas Eller (ed.), New York: Harry N. Abrams 2004, p. 13-23.

Fremde im Visier. Private Fotografien von Wehrmachtsoldaten, in: Mit der Kamera bewaffnet. Krieg und Fotografie, Anton Holzer (ed.), Marburg: Jonas Verlag 2003, p. 97-117.

Les images photographiques dans les expositions sur les crimes de la Wehrmacht ou comment l’histoire devient intime, in: Fictions d’Europe, Sophie Wahnich (ed.), Paris: Éd. des Archives contemporaines 2003, p. 189-209.


Petra Bopp

Center for Advanced Studies BildEvidenz

Arnimallee 10
14195 Berlin