In the Eye of the Storm: Photographs of Russian Prisoners of War in Denmark during the First World War

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Abstract

In 1915 prisoners of war escaped to neutral Denmark from German camps. In 1917, in order to support its politics of neutrality, Denmark opened two POW camps where soldiers from the warring countries were nursed. The proliferation of images in Danish archives shows that the prisoners were photographed frequently. Portraits and group photographs were carried by soldiers, sent home and left with new acquaintances establishing new forms of presence in a landscape of distance and loss. Furthermore, the development of documentary photography and mass media brought the images of prisoners into the historical records of Denmark’s neutrality. In this context the collection of the young academic Ingeborg Stemann plays a key part. While working as an aid worker and as an interpreter in the POW camps she collected photographs and written records in order to document the experiences of Russian POWs. Taking her collection as a starting point this article conducts an analysis of photography as a means to strengthen identity and community across time and place. Along with other photographs from the period, it also tells the story of conflicts and tensions in a period of war and revolution as well as in the act of taking photographs itself.
Translated title of the contributionI orkanens øje: Fotografier af russiske krigsfanger i Danmark under 1. Verdenskrig
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhotography and Culture
VolumeXX
Issue numberXX September
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages31
ISSN1751-4517
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2017

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