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.

Want to learn more about ViCTOR-E? Watch our shared presentation at the Visible Evidence Online Event on Dec 18th, 2020




Conference webseite now online!

Migrating Archives of Reality . Programming, Curating, and Appropriation of Non-fiction Film

6/7 May 2021

The digital turn, which has created new modes of access and circulation for films, underscores and amplifies what has been the fate of non-fiction film since the beginning of its existence – it has always been, and continues to be, a migrating archive of reality. Driven by the mass digitization of cultural heritage and possibilities of content sharing platforms and new streaming services, which enable non-fiction film content to constantly migrate across venues, platforms, but also cultures, geopolitical barriers, artworks etc., these movements intensified in the digital media ecology.

Even though looking to the past, the presence and the importance of contemporary social, economical, political and geographical frames in interpretation of visual archives of the past are acknowledged. In the same way, a shifting formation of an infrastructure of distribution and circulation of these archives is seen as a key game changer transforming our understanding to our own past. The emergence of these two aspects in the research, curation and interpretation of the visual sources of the past, has lead to inviting researchers, media analysts, historians and artists to contribute to the conference programme, whose outcome is presented in an online form and hopes to enrich a dynamically developing field of critical visual history and the intersection of political and social history with film studies.

About the program

All panel presentations are available as pre-recorded videos on this website.

The audience is expected to watch all presentations beforehand.

All panel discussions will be held on Zoom for a registered audience and will start with the respondent’s address.

Keynote lectures and the roundtable are live Zoom events directly attended by a registered audience and will be streamed online via Facebook VictorE.HERA for all interested viewers.

Registration will be open soon!

CFP MigratingArchives 2021

News and Publications

News (25.03.2021)

The Academy called (not that Academy, the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature, which was co-founded by Alfred Döblin) and we responded in a podcast about our research on wartime destruction, post-war reconstruction and non-fiction film.

Listen to the podcast here (in German):

Publication (18.01.2021)

Our French researcher Perrine Val is featured in the last issue of  #1257, the  in-house research magazine of the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne with a report on her research trip with fellow researcher Ondřej Haváč from Prague for the oral history part of our project: "Sure les routes des France avec Perrine Val, Historienne du Cinema"

Read article below (in French):

Event (03.12.2020)

Our Principal Investigators and researchers Johannes Praetorius-Rhein, Lucie Česálková , Paolo Vila, Francesco Pitassio and Perrine Valnwill contribute to the virtual conference

MemWar – Memorie e oblii delle guerre e dei traumi del XX secolo

with a panel on

Rubbles and Vaults. Making Use of the Non-Fiction Film Heritage for Reassessing Trauma and Reconstruction Culture

on Thursday, December 10th

09:00 Panel Victor-ERubbles and Vaults. Making Use of the Non-Fiction Film Heritage for Reassessing Trauma and Reconstruction Culture

Modera: Elisa Bricco 

Johannes Praetorius-Rhein: The use of digitized non-fiction footage in local memory cultures – Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main 

Perrine Val: Reconstructed towns: symbols of trauma overcome and contemporary urban challenges – Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Lucie Česálková: Tanks among Lilacs. Visual Memory of the Liberation of Prague – Institute of Contemporary History (Akademie věd).

Francesco Pitassio, Paolo Villa: Mediating Memories.  Bridging Gaps Between Non-fiction Film Heritage, Public History, Media Studies– Università di Udine

More info on the whole conference and how to attend here

Or register directly per Email

Online Seminar

In November 2020 the four research units of ViCTOR-E organised an international online seminar for students from the universities of our project (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Università degli Studi di Udine, Italy and Sorbonne Panthéon, France).

The seminar focused on issues of film and media history, visual culture, curatorial practices, trauma studies, archive platforms and digital humanities and presenting case studies from the ongoing project.

For more info about the online seminar: go to seminar page


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.


Download PDF for more info: ViCTOR-E and European Film Gateway