International Research Project


Frames of Reconstruction.
Realities and Visions of Recovering Europe. Documentary Film in Postwar Visual Culture

Developed in the framework of the international research project "ViCTOR-E: Visual Culture of Trauma, Obliteration and Reconstruction in Post-WW II Europe" the online exhibition tells a visual history of the European postwar reconstruction that was unfolding across the continent from 1944 until 1956. It does so through the powerful medium of non-fiction film that became a witness, a political agent, and a crucial tool of communication of the transformative era. Audiovisual sources like newsreels, short documentaries, and amateur films are accompanied by other telling media like posters and photos as well as memories of eyewitnesses from Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, and Italy.


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, 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. Furthermore, a larger thematic collection of films relevant to the project will be accessable via EFG.

Want to learn more about ViCTOR-E?

Watch our shared presentation at the Visible Evidence Online Event on Dec 18th, 2020

Browse the still growing thematic collection on EFG and watch more than 400 films from various European archives online




News and Publications

Event (29.09.2022)

The German unit of ViCTOR-E is launching the Online Exhibition

with a film screening at the DFF - Deutsches Filminstitut und Filmmuseum, Friday, 30.9.2022, 18h

Documentaries on the Reconstruction of Europe

Film program with introduction
1944-1956. div. 75 min.

For the launch of the "Frames of Reconstruction" online exhibition on European reconstruction in documentary film and as a conclusion to the ViCTOR-E international research project, we are showing a program of films digitized during the project. The documentaries LA VIE À BERLIN (FR 1945), AU REVOIR KALOVY VARY (CS 1949), LA FRONTIERA (BRD 1953), CONFINI AL NORD (IT 1954) have in common that they direct the view on and over new and old borders in Europe. As a project partner, the DFF also contributes DAS JAHR 48 (DE 1948), a film from its own archive: 100 years after the first German National Assembly, the Paulskirche lies in ruins. Documentary filmmaker Curt Oertel takes this as an opportunity to shoot a 'missed history lesson' about German democracy.


Publication (29.09.2022)

Special Issue of Iluminace, 22/1,

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

is out in print now!

This issue is the proceeding of our mid-term conference.

It will be available in OA in a few week as well! We keep you posted

Go to Illuminace:

Event (25.09.2022)

Workshop for teachers in Prague, Friday, 30th September

ViCTOR-E's Czech team offers  in cooperation with the project Ústav pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR, v.v.i. a workshop on Sept 30th for teachers on the role of visual media in teaching history

See Czech info here:

Final Conference Paris 22

Final Conference in Paris!

"The Reconstruction of Post-World War II Europe Through the Visual Arts"

Paris, INHA, 20-22 April 2022

Having survived World War II and the bombings of the Liberation gave a new impulse to a whole post-war generation. The innovative modernity of the architects who rebuilt the destroyed cities, the commitment of the construction workers who worked in perilous conditions, and the establishment of new, temporary peaceful diplomatic relationships inspired a rich visual and artistic production. Various patterns and aesthetic representations circulated between film, photography, architecture, painting, and the visual arts. Correspondences and influences were woven between these different artistic expressions during the pivotal period of the mid-twentieth century, some traces of which are still present in contemporary visual culture. ‍ This international conference brings together historians, art historians, film historians, architectural historians, historians of photography, painting, and other visual arts whose research takes place during the post-World War II Reconstruction period in Europe. It concludes the work conducted within the framework of the HERA-funded ViCTOR-E project (Visual Culture of Trauma, Obliteration, and Reconstruction in Post-World-War II Europe) whose research in Czech Republic, France, Germany, and Italy focused on non-fiction cinema (documentaries, newsreels, and amateur films) produced between 1945 and 1956. Finally, it is complemented by the presentation of the virtual exhibition created in partnership with the European Film Gateway portal, which explores how cinema represented and shaped post-war Europe.

Full programme here:


Migrating Archives 2020

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.

All panel presentations und roundtables are still available on the website.


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.

You can now access ViCTOR-E's still growing thematic collection here: Browse thematic collection on EFG and watch more than 400 films from various European archives

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