baltermants

Soviet soldiers in a building in Breslau March 1945Germany.

Photo by Dmitri Baltermants.

Dimitri Baltermans (1912 – 1990) was a Soviet photojournalist, born in Warsaw, Poland. He reported the battles in Stalingrad and Ukraine. He was twice wounded, because he followed the army of very close.

The photo depicts a 1942 Nazi massacre in the Crimean village of Kerch. Village women searched for the bodies of their loved ones. The contrast between the oversaturated sky above and the bodies haphazardly strewn in the foreground underlines the poignancy of the moment, but for the same reason, the photo was censored in the Soviet Union where authorities only published the photos that could help boost morale; ‘Grief’ reflected nothing but harsh tragedies of war, and it wasn’t seen by the general public until the 1960s.

The photo was allegedly cropped, and oversaturated sky itself was either the result of studio error or deliberate manipulation by Baltermants. Like so many tales originating from behind the Iron Curtain, these stories were of course unverified.

Photo by Dmitri Baltermants.

Dimitri Baltermans (1912 – 1990) was a Soviet photojournalist, born in Warsaw, Poland. He reported the battles in Stalingrad and Ukraine. He was twice wounded, because he followed the army of very close.

Dmitri Baltermants, “Behind Enemy Lines,” 1941

A formation of Soviet cavalrymen is in fact of partisan units, risking their lives by riding out in the open. Baltermants’ photograph edifies the partisans, who played an important role in undermining the German occupation of parts of the Soviet Union. During and after the war, partisans were heralded as the bravest fighters against Nazi fighters, and the only ones living under German occupation untainted by the possibility of collaboration. (via TIME)

This photograph is part of the Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust exhibition, based on David Shneer’s book of the same name, on view at the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage until April 7, 2013.

GERMANY. Breslau. May 1945. “All Quiet on the Oder River”. Soviet soldiers overlooking the last major European city to fall under the control of the Allies after a three-month-long siege (February 13, 1945 - May 6, 1945) and two days before the end of the war in the West.

Breslau was transferred to Poland after the war and rebaptised Wrocław. 

Photograph: Dmitry Baltermants