International Research Project


Visual Culture of Trauma, Obliteration and Reconstruction in Post-WW II Europe

VICTOR-E is the acronym for Visual Culture of Trauma, Obliteration and Reconstruction in Post-WW II Europe and the title of an international research project that explores non-fiction films about the rebuilding of local, national and transnational communities across Europe in the period from 1945-1956. VICTOR-E raises the following question: How have audiovisual representations of public spaces – and particularly the documentation of war damage and of reconstruction efforts –, shaped the politics, policies and polities of post-WW II Europe?

VICTOR-E is a collaborative research project of Goethe University Frankfurt am Main Germany, Università degli Studi di Udine Italy, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Czech Republic, and Université Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne France, in cooperation with the Deutsches Filminstitut und Filmmuseum Frankfurt, the Centre National de la Cinématographie Paris, the National Film Archive in Prague, the Archivio Nazionale Cinema Impresa in Ivrea, and the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE).

It was selected as one of 21 projects to be part of HERA’s (Humanities in the European Research Area) fourth joint research programme addressing ‘Public Spaces: Culture and Integration in Europe’. Funded mainly within the framework of the EU research funding program Horizon 2020, HERA focuses on developing funding opportunities for leading humanities researchers in Europe

Framing post-war culture as a culture of trauma and transition and looking at public space as a privileged site for the discursive construction of regional, national and supra-national communities, VICTOR-E studies the political iconography of public spaces in non-fiction film from the cessation of hostilities (1944-45) until the Thaw (1956) in a transnational, comparative perspective and with regard to a wider historical visual culture, including photographs, maps or popular culture. This scope encompasses different national experiences of war destruction and post-war reconstruction across Europe as lived, captured and remembered in Germany, Italy, France and Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic. VICTOR-E assumes that through the cinematic configuration of public spaces, non-fiction films contribute towards the formation of distinctive notions of the demos and, by implication, of different and competing visions of democracy.

VICTOR-E unites scholars of non-fiction film from four European countries with film archives and combines archival research, media literacy, oral histories and public history in order to provide context for previously digitized as well as newly digitized content. Apart from scholarly publications and conferences, the main deliverable is a suitable, multilingual (F, I, D, CZ,  EN) virtual exhibition connected with European Film Gateway, which presents the research results to scholars, schools and lay public and furthers our understanding on how audiovisual media shape notions of public space as site of commemoration and political and social action.

News and Publications

Event (31.01.2020)

Gorizia (IT) FilmForum Victor-E Symposium Eyewitnessing the Past? Questioning Film and Media agency in Collective Memory and Public History.; Due to COVID-19 the symposoum will be postponed to November 2020.

The symposium aims at exploring the overlaps and intersections between Memory Studies and Public History by adopting a media-related perspective. The symposium will serve as an occasion to present the partial research outputs and reflect on some of the major methodological and theoretical concerns of the ongoing project VICTOR-E. Other than reconstructing the way in which, in alliance with other media, non-fiction films created a public memory and a sense of shared destiny centered around the representation of iconic public spaces, VICTOR-E also aims at enhancing this often neglected heritage and making it available by a wide audience by digitising original materials, including them in a Virtual Exhibition and in a Teaching Toolkit.

During the morning plenary session a representative of each of the research units involved will present the ongoing research by focusing on a particular methodological angle. The afternoon workshop will be devoted to share and collectively discuss some specific case studies between all of the VICTOR-E group members.

Event (11.08.2019)

HERA JRP Uses of the Past & Public Spaces Conference
European Centre for the Solidarity, Gdansk, Poland, 11-12 September 2019

The European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, Poland is the venue for the HERA Joint Research Programmes (JRP) Uses of the Past and Public Spaces Conference on the 11th and 12th of September 2019. The conference aims to showcase the excellent research being undertaken by HERA funded projects and to raise the profile of the Humanities among national research councils and the EU.


VICTOR-E and The European Film Gateway

The European Film Gateway (EFG) is an online platform run by members of the Association des Cinémathèques Européenes ( that provides access to digitised collections from currently 39 European film archives. The EFG portal was launched in 2011 and today gives you access to over 700,000 photos, posters, programmes, periodicals, censorship documents, rare feature and documentary films, newsreels and other materials. Associated partners of VICTOR-E like Narodni Filmovy Archiv (Prague), DFF - Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum (Frankfurt) and EYE Film museum (Amsterdam) already contribute to the EFG.

Researchers working on the VICTOR-E project collaborate with EFG to make a curated collection of films and contextual materials available. These films have partly already been digitised, other will be digitised in the course of the project. The selected films will be made searchable through the EFG portal where they will be featured in a dedicated area.

In addition, excerpts from relevant films will be presented in a Virtual Exhibition, which presents the research results to scholars and the general public and helps further our understanding of how audiovisual media shape notions of public space as a site of commemoration and political and social action. VICTOR-E invites archives holding films that document public spaces, particularly after war damage and during reconstruction efforts, to make these films available to a wider public on the EFG portal or in the Victor-E Virtual Exhibition.

Find more information on EFG at 

The EFG already contains a comprehensive online collection of film related to the First World War provided by film archives from around 15 European countries.


PDF document: The European Film Gateway and VICTOR-E