VHH Research Seminar – Session 9: Soviet Footage of War Crimes, between Propaganda and Judicial Evidence, 1941–1946

Presentation by Vanessa Voisin

In the ninth session of CERCEC's H2020 "Visual History of the Holocaust" Research Seminar, Vanessa Voisin (Bologna University/Alma Mater Studiorum) discusses the Soviet authorities' policy of producing and showing film footage of Nazi crimes.

Soviet authorities took great effort to shoot film footage of Nazi crimes by incorporating camera crews into the army and giving them detailed instructions. 
Thousands of meters of film have been preserved, constituting an archive of mostly unexplored source material. In her talk, Vanessa Voisin discusses the Soviet policy of filming and showing atrocity footage in the war and postwar years. Footage of war crimes served both judiciary and propaganda purposes, while the historical significance of these ‘documents’ was discussed in the middle of the war itself.

The presentation is based on a chapter recently published in: Defeating Impunity: Attempts at International Justice in Europe since 1914, ed. Ornella Rovetta and Pieter Lagrou (New York: Berghahn Books, 2022), 146–73.

H2020 “Visual History of the Holocaust”. Research Seminar 2021–2022:

As part of the Horizon 2020 project “Visual History of the Holocaust”, this seminar focuses on film documents created by Soviet filmmakers during the liberation of Nazi-occupied territories. The history of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, the literature on mass violence, and the history of still and moving images serve to contextualize this little-known corpus of Soviet film images documenting Nazi crimes. Participants are invited to examine the period from 1941 to 1947, and thus to consider the different phases in which the identity of the victims was explicitly discussed or ignored. The seminar aims to engage in a dialog about the visual traces of Nazi atrocities in Central and Eastern Europe and the USSR. The Research Seminar 2021–2022 is hosted by CERCEC and coordinated by Valérie Pozner and Irina Tcherneva.


For participation please register by sending an email (Subject: VHH Research Seminar Registration) to Irina Tcherneva (irina.tcherneva@palimpsestes.net).

Upcoming Sessions:

Thursday, March 24, 2022, 16:00–18:00 CET – postponed
Janina Struk (Independent Scholar): “Resistance: Securing the Photographic Evidence in Nazi Occupied Poland”

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 16:00–18:00 CET
Clara Royer (Sorbonne University): “Between Fiction and History: Ethical Questions during the Archival Research for the Film Project”

Thursday, June 9, 2022, 16:00–18:00 CET
Christophe Cognet (film director, screenwriter, author of the book Éclats. Prises de vue clandestines des camps nazis and of the documentary film À pas aveugles): “By filming, by writing. Photographic testimonies of the Nazi camps”

Thursday, June 16, 2022, 16:00–18:00 CET
Thomas Chopard (CERCEC): “Writing the history of the Holocaust and of mass-violence in Nazi-occupied Kharkov”

Video Preview Image

VHH Research Seminar – Session 9: Soviet Footage of War Crimes, between Propaganda and Judicial Evidence, 1941–1946

Thursday, 13.01.2022, 16:00

Vanessa Voisin: Presentation in CERCEC's H2020 "Visual History of the Holocaust" Research Seminar.

This event poster shows a film still of a group of men right before their hanging.
Research Seminar
Thursday, 13.01.2022, 16:00
Thursday, 13.01.2022, 18:00
(GMT+01:00) Vienna