Trophy, evidence, document: appropriating an archive film from Liepaja, 1941

Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Many German soldiers filmed with their private cameras during World War II, but only lately have some of these private films become part of public archives and begun circulating in documentary films and historical television. An early example is an archive film depicting mass shootings in the Latvian town of Liepaja in July 1941, recorded by Reinhard Wiener, a German marine sergeant and amateur cinematographer. From a wartime trophy, the footage transformed into evidence through its first public screening during the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem. It then migrated into different historical documentaries and films such as Erwin Leiser’s Eichmann und das Dritte Reich (CH/FRG 1961) and Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Das radikal Böse (AUS/GER 2013). The paper describes the context, analyzes the status of the footage, and traces its transformation from wartime trophy to evidence and finally into an archival document.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)509-528
Number of pages20
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IAMHIST & Taylor & Francis.


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