Fotograf Magazine

Zdeněk Tmej

The Alphabet of Spiritual Emptiness

Totaleinsatz (Forced Labour), the most famous collection of photographs by Czech photographer Zdeněk Tmej (1920–2004), was created between 1942 and 1944, when the author was forced to heavy labour in Wroclaw, Poland. He took the photographs in difficult light conditions and developed them continually. This fact probably saved them from confiscation by the Gestapo, who thought the pictures were souvenirs. The unique series is a testimony about the Nazi slave practice of an amazing artistic and socio- political value. Several personalities in the history of photography have been known for their extraordinary records of wartime: one of the famous examples was Robert Capa. We could also mention Ladislav Sitenský, Tmej’s companion and friend, who became famous for his photographs of the British Air Force and Czechoslovak units operating during World War II.

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#33 investigation

Penkala, a student, talking with head of the camp Müller. Müller went to Prague where,  during the May uprising, he was recognized by a forced laborer and killed.
Accident on the job. A stoker scalded by steam after an attack on a railroad engine.

#33 investigation

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