Ausschnitt: Man of Aran (Die Männer von Aran) GB 1934, Regie: Robert J. Flaherty Quelle: Deutsche Kinemathek, Grafikarchiv

Burn Marks
Film Posters from a Salt Mine

Dozens of international film posters from the first 40 years of film history were found in a salt mine in Grasleben, Germany in 1986, where the National Socialists’ Reichsfilmarchiv (film archives of the Third Reich) had been stored since World War II. We present 20 extensively restored works and tell their history. The miner’s lamp from Grasleben – did it really tip over in June 1945, triggering the destruction of countless film materials? In a salt mine of all places, where these and other cultural assets were supposed to be protected from the effects of war? Or had American agents and special units already evacuated the storage area two months before and then used the fire to cover their tracks?

These questions can presumably never be answered. What does survive are historical film posters into which the traces of time have literally been burned. These works have come into the care of the Deutsche Kinemathek in the interim, while further materials, documents and objects still are slumbering in the depths of the salt mine. Why and how did the film archives make their way there in 1944‒45, during the last months of the war? And what happened at the mine after the war ended? This exhibition tells these stories. It also addresses the subject of cultural protection and looks into the painstaking efforts that are undertaken to protect historical traditions from being forgotten.

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