Deutsches Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte - Bildarchiv Foto Marburg
Bildarchiv Foto Marburg is Germany's documentation center for art history. The archive contains around 1.7 million images. More...
Gallery of Special Image
After World War II: So-called ruin campaign undertaken by the Image Archive Foto Marburg to document destroyed towns in Bavaria 1946/47.
In March 1946, the Image Archive Foto Marburg was commissioned by the Office of Military Government for Bavaria, Monument and Fine Arts Department to document destroyed towns in Bavaria and Franconia. This was done with the help of a “list of protected documents” issued by the art protection division of the American occupant government, which was amended in Marburg according to art historical criteria. Using historical image material as a model, damaged monuments were meant to be photographed wherever possible from the same angle as before the war. The recruitment of photographers as well as the entire organisation of the campaigns, including procurement of material, was assigned to Foto Marburg.
Starting in April 1946, three teams of photographers were formed, photographing as Gruppe München, Gruppe Nürnberg, and Gruppe Würzburg primarily in these badly-hit cities. Furthermore, destroyed but also intact monuments were documented in over 200 places in this artistic territory. Thus by March 1947, 7,500 black-and-white photographs were produced, a third of which were large-format glass plates, the rest small-image format.
These photographs, taken by art historically versed photographers such as Carl Albiker or Max Hirmer under academic supervision, are indispensible visual records of the years directly following the war. Produced under most adversary conditions, these photographs impressively show the extent of the damages the war did to individual buildings and entire towns within this rich artistic territory.
The photograph taken in autumn 1946 of St. Peter’s Church in Würzburg captures the devastating bombing damages done to this significant Baroque building, which nevertheless was reconstructed between 1953 and 54. Just as all campaign photographs, this image is an important source for research on the significance and iconographic value of the photographs of the years of ruins and reconstructions. Furthermore, it provides valuable material for research within the history of architecture, monument preservation, and urban design.