VOVA POMORTZEFF PRESENTS A DOCUMENTARY PHOTO PROJECT
The Woe of the Vanquished
Impressive and almost unknown memorials to the fallen German soldiers documented by photographer Vova Pomortzeff
Vova Pomortzeff
photographer
British or French war memorials are taken for granted. At the same time, there is little known that German war memorials even exist. Although almost every German town or village has its own memorial to the locals who have not returned from the war, and some of them are unbelievably amazing. Documentary photographer Vova Pomortzeff spent four years travelling to and fro across Germany to find the most impressive examples of German war memorials.
Memorial to German soldiers fallen during the First World War on the wall of the town hall in Ettlingen near Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Sculptor: Oscar Kiefer, 1923.
Most of the German memorials to the fallen at the front lines of the First World War were erected in a difficult period of the German history. The Weimar Republic was turning inexorably into the Third Reich. Jugendstil and expressionism in art were gradually giving way to Nazi aesthetics. The result was an absolutely incredible mix of deep sorrow, post-war loss and heroic pathos with elements of Nazi propaganda and, paradoxically, even the visible traces of homoeroticism. The centenary of the First World War provides an excellent opportunity to rediscover this forgotten cultural phenomenon, almost unknown even to art historians.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Murg in Baden-Württemberg, South Germany. Sculptor: Hugo Knittel, 1938. The monument designed by one of the most prominent representatives of Nazi art was erected until recently in the main square of this small German town on the border with Switzerland. Three years ago, the statue was moved to a less honourable place to the side facade of the town hall.
German war memorials are still partly a taboo subject in German society. Although in the absolute majority we are talking about memorials to the fallen during the First World War, a fine line between mourning for the fellow citizens and justifying for German militarism and Nazi ideology looks too ephemeral. Other nationalities also perceive the German war memorials through the lens of the events of World War II. For example, most of the Russians, who grew up on Soviet war movies, clearly identify a German Stahlhelm as a typical attribute of the Wehrmacht. Although German soldiers during the First World War wore almost the same steel helmets, and it was this helmets depicted in the most of the memorials.
Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 4th Queen Augusta Guards Grenadier Regiment of the Imperial German Army who died during the First World War at the Columbiadamm Cemetery in Berlin, Germany. Sculptor: Franz Dorrenbach, 1925.
The setting in which the German war memorials were created was well described by Erich Maria Remarque in his novel The Black Obelisk. Memorials in the provincial German towns were designed mainly by local amateur artists. Even to find out the name of the sculptor is not possible in many cases today. At the same time, the most prominent representatives of German art also worked on the monuments to the fallen. One of the most impressive German war memorials was carved by Ernst Barlach, the great German sculptors of the 20th century. Although the memorial for the Magdeburg Cathedral dates back to 1929, ironically, the bandage on the wounded head gives to the central figure a striking similarity to Adolf Hitler.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in the Magdeburg Cathedral in Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Sculptor: Ernst Barlach, 1929. Right: Memorial to German soldiers fallen during the First World War on the wall of the town hall in Ettlingen near Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Sculptor: Oscar Kiefer, 1923. The dates of World War II were added under the coloured relief in 1995.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Odenheim near Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Sculptor: Karl Wahl, 1937.
Left: Memorial to the gymnasium students fallen at the front lines during the First World War in front of the Dionysianum Gymnasium in Rheine, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Albert Mazzotti, 1933–1934. In the centre: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers at the Biebrich Cemetery in Wiesbaden, Hesse, West Germany. Sculptor: Fritz Gerth, 1907. The memorial was devoted later to the soldiers who died in two world wars. Right: The death playing the drum depicted on the side panel of the memorial to the fallen German soldiers near the parish church in the town of Gutach in the Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, South Germany. Sculptor: Curt Liebich, 1923.
Memorial to German soldiers fallen during the First World War in the memorial park in Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany. Sculptor: Fried Heuler, 1931.
The absolute majority of the German war memorials originally commemorated soldiers fallen during the First World War. Most of them were extended later to show the names of locals who died at the front lines of World War II in addition. Separate memorials to Wehrmacht soldiers are extremely rare. Usually, it is just a frame with black-and-white photographs of the dead fellows in the parish church.
Memorial to German soldiers fallen in two world wars near the parish church in Kollnau, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Sculptor: Erwin Krumm, 1935.
Photographs of the villagers fallen at the front lines during World War II placed in the memorial box next to the entrance to the parish church in the village of Oberteisendorf near Teisendorf, Bavaria, Germany.
Graves of Wehrmacht soldiers fallen during World War II at the Lutheran cemetery in the village of Bärenburg in the Ore Mountains on the border with the Czech Republic near Altenberg, Saxony, East Germany. The birch tree crosses covered with the German Stahlhelm helmets dated from the time of World War II mark the graves of Gefreiter Gebhard Moser, who died on June 15, 1945 at the age of 21 and Gefreiter Willi Wilde, who died on June 16, 1945 at the age of 27. Both were wounded in the last days of World War II and died in a hospital at the local Lutheran church. The graves with typical WWII wooden crosses covered with helmets were preserved even during the GDR time.
Left: Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 2nd Kaiser Franz Guards Grenadier Regiment of the Imperial German Army who died during the First World War in Kreuzberg district in Berlin, Germany. Sculptor: Eberhard Encke, 1924. In the centre: Neue Wache Memorial, the central German memorial for the victims of war and dictatorship in Unter den Linden boulevard in Berlin, Germany. At the personal suggestion of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the enlarged version of the sculpture Mother with her Dead Son by German artist Käthe Kollwitz was placed inside the memorial hall in 1993. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Hüllhorst, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Hans Dammann, 1929.
Naked and Armed
With a thorough and comprehensive examination of German war memorials the amount of male nudity is bit too conspicuous. It is not just a naked man often, but a rather extravagant character of a completely naked soldier wearing only a steel helmet, but armed with a sword. The cult of naked body, very typical for the European art of the first half of the 20th century, transformed into this pretty comical images in German memorial sculpture. Although the contemporaries, of course, perceived the statues of naked soldiers just as a personification of sorrow, today it is difficult not to notice homoerotic connotations in these powerful muscular figures.
Memorial to the gymnasium students fallen at the front lines during the First World War in the vestibule of the Walther-Rathenau-Schule Gymnasium in Berlin, Germany. Sculptor: Hans Dammann, 1928.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers near the parish church in Eschenbach in der Oberpfalz in North Bavaria, Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s. Right: Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 5th Guards Grenadier Regiment of the Imperial German Army who died during the First World War in Spandau district in Berlin, Germany. Sculptor: August Schreitmüller, 1922. The same sculptor designed the statue on the tower of the Dresden City Hall, featured later by German photographer Richard Peter in his famous photograph of the ruined city.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Sandkamp near Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German artillerymen at the Steglitz Cemetery in Berlin, Germany. Sculptor: Felix Kupsch, 1933. The monument was originally erected in front of the artillery barracks nearby and was seriously damaged during World War II. The bronze statue was moved to the Steglitz Cemetery in 1957. Until recently, the memorial was the place of annual meetings of German veterans of the Battle of Stalingrad. In the centre: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Rüsselsheim, Hesse, West Germany. Sculptor: Ludwig Spiegel, 1930. The memorial was paid by Wilhelm von Opel and his son Fritz, the founders of the German automobile manufacturer Opel. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Sebnitz in Saxony, East Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, 1922.
Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 2nd Kaiser Franz Guards Grenadier Regiment of the Imperial German Army who died during the First World War in Kreuzberg district in Berlin, Germany. Sculptor: Eberhard Encke, 1924. The same sculptor designed two statues of the naked Dioscuri for the building of the German Embassy in Saint Petersburg, Russia, which were destroyed by enraged crowd shortly after Germany declared war on Russia in 1914 and the First World War began.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Lüdenscheid, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Willy Meller, 1935. The same sculptor is known for his work for the Olympic Stadium in Berlin and the Vogelsang training camp, built by the National Socialists as an educational centre for future leaders. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in front of the parish church in Niederau near Dresden, Saxony, East Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 20th King William I Uhlans Regiment (2nd Württemberg Regiment) of the Imperial German Army fallen during the First World War near the garrison church in Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Sculptor: Erwin Dauner, 1926.
Left: Memorial to fallen German soldiers in the main square in Merkendorf in Bavaria, Germany. Sculptor: Wilhelm Riedel, 1921. In the centre: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers on the facade of St John's Church in Ansbach in Bavaria, Germany. Sculptor: Georg Müller, 1926. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in the medieval historical centre of Neustadt an der Weinstraße in Rhineland-Palatinate, West Germany. Sculptor: Hermann Hahn, 1924–1925.
The Legacy of the Nazi Era
Nazi Germany turned war memorials into an element of state propaganda. Monuments to the fallen at the front lines of the First World War were becoming more pretentious and elaborate, and militaristic aesthetics was appearing more and more clearly in them. The best sculptors of the Third Reich were working on the gigantic statues of heroic German soldiers. Today, the surviving war memorials dated from the second half of the 1930s are actually the only examples of Nazi art still visible on the streets of German towns.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Murg in Baden-Württemberg, South Germany. Sculptor: Hugo Knittel, 1938. The monument designed by one of the most prominent representatives of Nazi art was erected until recently in the main square of this small German town on the border with Switzerland. Three years ago, the statue was moved to a less honourable place to the side facade of the town hall.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers on the medieval town gates in the historical centre of Marbach am Neckar in Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Sculptor: J.B., 1934. Right: Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 79th Infantry Regiment (3rd Hanover Regiment) of the Imperial German Army in Hildesheim in Lower Saxony, Germany. Sculptor: August Waterbeck, 1939. The memorial was unveiled on June 11, 1939, literally just few weeks before World War II began.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Oespel near Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, 1934-1935.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in front of the parish church in Wilgartswiesen, Rhineland-Palatinate, West Germany. Sculptor: Richard Lenhard, 1938. One of the red sandstone relieves has clearly visible traces of bullets.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers near the parish church in Kollnau, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Sculptor: Erwin Krumm, 1935.
Even decades after the end of World War II, German society does not have an unequivocal attitude towards the war memorials created under the National Socialists. Some Germans believe these Nazi monuments should be preserved as a reminder of history. Other people, on the contrary, insist on the immediate removing of all war monuments of that period considering on an unacceptable presence of militaristic aesthetics in the public areas. Some Nazi war memorials are also victims of vandalism quite often.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Furtwangen im Schwarzwald in the Black Forest in Baden-Württemberg, South Germany. Sculptor: Hugo Knittel, 1937. The central figure of the memorial was damaged and destroyed by unknowns at night on May 1, 1977. Right: Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 2nd Guards Reserve Regiment of the Imperial German Army at the Columbiadamm Cemetery in Berlin, Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1930s.
Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Guards Pioneer Battalion of the Imperial German Army on the facade of the garrison church in Kreuzberg district in Berlin, Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, 1929. The pineapple was placed instead of the broken head by unknowns in September 2017.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers at the Großholthausen Cemetery in Löttringhausen near Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Fritz Richter-Elsner, 1935. The bronze statue of a soldier has traces of bullets. In the centre: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Enger, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Hans Dammann, 1930s. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Hüllhorst, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Hans Dammann, 1929.
Nazi Frescoes in the Baroque Chapel
The Holy Trinity Chapel near the Bavarian town of Waldsassen next to the border with the Czech Republic was built by famous German Baroque architect Georg Dientzenhofer. The chapel was badly damaged in a fire in 1880, all wall paintings were lost. In 1934, German artist Oskar Martin-Amorbach was assigned to paint the church again. He finished the last mural in 1940, when World War II already began, therefore the artist depicted Wehrmacht soldiers in the classical Biblical scene of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. German art historians list this scene as the allegory of mercy. Apparently, the German soldier is sharing water or schnapps with an Italian, Spanish, and French soldier in the mural, thus showing mercy. Two Wehrmacht soldiers bury their dead comrade in the next scene.
German Wehrmacht soldiers depicted in the fragment of the ceiling mural painting "The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles" in the Holy Trinity Chapel (Wallfahrtskirche Kappl) near Waldsassen in Bavaria, Germany. Painter: Oskar Martin-Amorbach, 1934–1940.
Holy Trinity Chapel (Wallfahrtskirche Kappl) near Waldsassen in Bavaria, Germany. Architect: Georg Dientzenhofer, 1685–1689. The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles depicted in the ceiling mural painting in the Holy Trinity Chapel. Painter: Oskar Martin-Amorbach, 1934–1940.
The Second World War
There are almost no separate monuments to German soldiers fallen during World War II. The author managed to find only three such memorials, when working on this documentary project. Generally the names of the fallen Wehrmacht soldiers were just added to the existing memorials to the soldiers of the First World War.
Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 18th Cavalry Regiment of the Wehrmacht who died at the front lines during World War II in the resort town of Bad Kanstatt near Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Sculptor: Irmgard von Puttkamer, 1961.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers at the village cemetery in Elsenbach near Neumarkt-Sankt Veit in Bavaria, Germany. The wooden cenotaph with naïve painting has the list of the villagers fallen during World War II, mainly on the Eastern Front. Right: Memorial to the fallen villagers in the parish church in Feichten near Neumarkt-Sankt Veit in Bavaria, Germany. The chapel is decorated with a monumental mural painting by an unidentified artist. To judge by the uniform of the soldiers, the painting was obviously created after World War II.
Stalingrad Madonna
One of the most important memorials to those who died on the front lines of World War II is commonly known now as the Stalingrad Madonna. This simple charcoal sketch on the back of the Soviet geographical map was created during the Battle of Stalingrad. The image was drawn by Lieutenant Kurt Reuber, a German military doctor who served as a Lutheran pastor before the war, in his dugout in Stalingrad on the Christmas night on December 25, 1942.
Stalingrad Madonna. Artist: Kurt Reuber, December 25, 1942. The inscriptions in German around means: Light, Life, Love. Christmas at the Siege. Fortress Stalingrad.
The Stalingrad Madonna was flown out of Stalingrad on the last transport plane to leave the encircled German army on January 13, 1943. The dugout where the image was kept was destroyed by a direct bomb hit a week later. Kurt Reuber was in service in the hospital at that time, so he survived. After the Battle of Stalingrad, he was taken captive and died in a Soviet camp for prisoners of war in Yelabuga on January 20, 1944. The original of the Stalingrad Madonna is now on display in the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, Germany.
Destroyed and Restored
Monumental fresco in style of traditional Bavarian mural paintings was created in 1929 by German artist Josef Hengge, a pupil of Franz von Stuck. The fresco occupied the entire wall of the house on the main square of the town of Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps. Thus, the whole building became a monument to German soldiers fallen in the front lines of the First World War. The original fresco was destroyed by the US military in 1945. Only the Crucifix scene was preserved untouched. After the war, Josef Hengge repainted the wall again, changing only one scene. Instead of a battle scene, the artist depicted relatives mourning over the dead soldier.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers painted on the house in Schlossplatz in Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, Germany. Artist: Josef Hengge, 1952. The author's copy of the destroyed murals from 1929.
Saint Maximilian's Church in Munich was seriously damaged during the aerial bombing of the city on July 13, 1944. The memorial to German soldiers fallen during the First World War inside the church was also destroyed. It was restored from broken fragments after the war, leaving the cracks between visible, thus the memorial also commemorates the events of the Second World War now. Naked soldiers wearing steel helmets, very typical for German war memorials, here attend the scene of the resurrection of the dead.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Saint Maximilian's Church in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Photographs of the Fallen Soldiers
The most common memorial to the fallen during World War II is a simple frame with black-and-white photographs of the local people who died at the front lines. This frames are usually located inside a parish church or in a memorial chapel at the local cemetery. This type of war memorials with group photographs is especially widespread in the Bavarian small towns and villages.
Two frames with photographs of the locals fallen at the front lines during World War II inside the parish church in Ampfing in Bavaria, Germany.
Photographs of the villagers fallen at the front lines during World War II placed in the memorial box next to the entrance to the parish church in the village of Oberteisendorf near Teisendorf, Bavaria, Germany.
Frame with photographs of the locals fallen at the front lines during World War II in the memorial chapel at the town cemetery in Massing in Bavaria, Germany.
Frame with original war-time death announcements to the villagers fallen at the fronts during World War II in the memorial chapel at the village cemetery in Frauenstein near Wiesbaden, Hesse, West Germany.
Frame with photographs of the villagers fallen at the front lines during World War II in the memorial chapel at the village cemetery in Frauenstein near Wiesbaden, Hesse, West Germany.
The Origins of the Great Style
Monumental pathos of German war memorials has its origins not only in the legacy of the Nazi period, of course. It rooted in the ancient traditions of German culture. It was Germany, for example, where one of the greatest war memorials in the human history was erected in the beginning of the 20th century. In October 1813, the coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden decisively defeated the French army of Napoleon in the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig. In occasion of the 100th anniversary of the battle the colossal memorial designed by German architect Bruno Schmitz was erected on the battlefield. The interior was decorated with gigantic statues by German sculptor Franz Metzner.
Monument to the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany. Architect: Bruno Schmitz, 1898–1913.
Colossal statues of the Guards of the Dead by German sculptor Franz Metzner in the crypt of the Monument to the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany.
Archangel Michael by German sculptor Christian Behrens above the main entrance to the Monument to the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany.
Relieves on the memorial to German soldiers fallen during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870–1871 in Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Bernhard Frydag, 1909.
Fighting and Mourning
Figurative scenes on the most of the German war memorials can be thematically divided into several groups. The first group depicts farewell scenes. The second shows German soldiers already in attack. The third group shows wounded or dying soldiers. The fourth depicts dead soldiers. Finally, the fifth group depicts mourning scenes over the dead comrades in different variations. Altogether this scenes form a monumental panorama of the events on the front lines of the First World War.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers at the old cemetery in Dohna near Dresden, Saxony, East Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Haßfurt in Bavaria, Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Geisling in Bavaria, Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Saint Maximilian's Church in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Wooden carved altar in the memorial chapel near the parish church in Bischofswiesen in the Bavarian Alps in Bavaria, South Germany. Sculptor: Anton Stöckl, 1931.
Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 4th Westphalian Cuirassier Regiment of the Imperial German Army in the promenade alley in Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Bernhard von Plettenberg, 1960. Three bronze relieves featuring battle scenes are copies of the original relieves from 1930, which were melted down in 1942 for military needs during World War II.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Sohland an der Spree on the border with the Czech Republic in Saxony, East Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1930s.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in front of the parish church in Pang near Rosenheim, Bavaria, South Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, 1922.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Bünde, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Hermann Kurt Hosaeus, 1926. In the centre: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in the village of Schönach near Regensburg, Bavaria, South Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in the village Opherdicke near Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Fritz Richter-Elsner, 1928.
Detail of the wooden relief in the memorial chapel in the town of Wasenweiler on the border with France in Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers at the old cemetery in Dohna near Dresden, Saxony, East Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Wooden statue of a dead soldier at the memorial cemetery near Bischofsgrün in Bavaria, Germany. The memorial was built in the 1960s and thus is dedicated to German solders fallen in two world wars.
Left: Central Bavarian memorial to the fallen in two world wars in the Hofgarten Garden in front of the Bavarian State Chancellery in Munich, Germany. Sculptor: Bernhard Bleeker, 1924. The memorial was seriously damaged during World War II. The original marble statue of a dead soldier was replaced with a bronze copy in 1972. In the centre: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Neumarkt-Sankt Veit in Bavaria, Germany. Sculptor: Paul Schwaiger, 1938. The sculptor lost his brother in the First World War. Otto Schwaiger died at the age of 20 during the Battle of Verdun in 1916. When the sculptor designed the memorial to the fallen for his hometown, the face of the dead soldier was modelled after his brother. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers among the medieval ruins of the Hohensyburg Fortress in Syburg near Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Friedrich Bagdons, 1930.
Memorial to the fallen students of the Göttingen University in Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany. Sculptor: Josef Kemmerich, 1924.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Radeburg, Saxony, Germany. Sculptor: Georg Türke, 1921. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Wurzen, Saxony, Germany. Sculptor: Georg Wrba, 1930. The memorial was paid by German businessman Hermann Ilgen, who invented rat poison. Legendary Swedish nurse Elsa Brändström, who was helping to German and Austrian prisoners of war in Russian captivity during the First World War, attended the unveiling ceremony on May 11, 1930. She was known around the world as the Angel of Siberia and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times.
German soldier praying in front the Crucifix depicted in the stained glass window in the memorial chapel near the parish church in Bayerbach in Bavaria, Germany. The chapel was decorated by stained glass master Franz Xaver Kurländer from the famous workshop in nearby Passau.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Somborn near Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Hans Dammann, probably the 1930s. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers at the Lutheran cemetery in the village of Bärenburg in the Ore Mountains on the border with the Czech Republic near Altenberg, Saxony, East Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers at the Biebrich Cemetery in Wiesbaden, Hesse, West Germany. Sculptor: Fritz Gerth, 1907. The memorial was later devoted to the soldiers who died in two world wars.
Left: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers at the Mariendorf Cemetery in Berlin, Germany. Sculptor: Hermann Möller, 1923. Right: Memorial to the fallen German soldiers in Föhrste near Alfeld, Lower Saxony, Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
Memorial to the fallen German soldiers on the facade of the parish church in Klingenberg near Pretzschendorf, Saxony, East Germany. Sculptor: unidentified, probably the 1920s.
The dates of the First World War crossed out with red paint at the memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Guards Pioneer Battalion of the Imperial German Army on the facade of the garrison church in Kreuzberg district in Berlin, Germany.

The photographs of this documentary photo project were taken from February 2014 to December 2017. Russian documentary photographer Vova Pomortzeff spent four years travelling to find the most impressive examples of the German war memorials. He has visited 92 localities in the nine federal states of Germany. At the moment, totally 114 monuments to the fallen German soldiers have been documented, and 75 of them are presented in this publication. The project is not completed yet. Dozens of other war memorials are planned to visit for the next months. The final version of this documentary photo project will be published presumably in spring 2020 in occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Cover photo: Memorial to fallen soldiers of the 13th Infantry Regiment (1st Westphalian Regiment) of the Imperial German Army in the promenade alley in Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Sculptor: Heinrich Bäumer the Elder, 1925.
Russian documentary photographer Vova Pomortzeff pictured by himself during his work on his long-term photo project The Woe of the Vanquished. Left: Next to the bronze statue from 1935 designed by German sculptor Willy Meller on the ground of the German war memorial in Lüdenscheid, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Right: Next to the memorial to the fallen German soldiers at the cemetery in Bad Münder am Deister in Lower Saxony, Germany.
Special thanks to designer Vadim Kibardin and amateur military historian Dmitry Koskin for their invaluable assistance in preparing this documentary photo project.