Last days of war:
Berlin in May 1945

Georgi Petrusov (1903 – 1971)

Georgij Petrussow, Berlin Mai 1945, 1945
© Alex Lachmann

Georgi Petrusov (1903–1971) arrived in Berlin in late April 1945 as a Soviet soldier. He was shadowing the Red Army’s advance as a photographer and recording street skirmishes amid the rubble of the German capital. The pictures he took during the final days of the war and the ensuing ceasefire are spooky, almost theatrical – an effect not entirely due to the motif. Petrusov reinforced the inherent drama by manipulating the “original” image in the dark room. This picture shows a street lined by ruins. People are fleeing the gunfire; one woman dares to glance back. The end of the street is blurred by smoke that even darkens the retouched sky.

Petrusov intention was not merely aesthetic. He wanted to record the historic situation and the plight of these people, but also to convey an emotional message. His photographs are a clear statement denouncing war and the suffering it causes for all concerned.

Berlin, May 1945
1945
Photography
Acquired from the Galerie Alex Lachmann, Köln, 1993

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