1938 – 1945: Photography in Times of War

The establishment of the autonomous Slovakia and the creation of the clerical fascist Slovak State resulted in a grave social situation. Hlinka’s Slovak People’s Party became the ruling party of Slovakia. Due to the onset of fascism and removal of the Czech teachers from Slovakia, the School of Arts and Crafts was abolished. Karel Plicka, whose celebration of the Slovak nation was misused to spread the propaganda about the national identity, had to leave Slovakia.

The core of the news was made up by the official photographs. These were supposed to depict an idyllic and peaceful Slovakia. It was expected that Slovakia would be presented as a country with a shaped political system, demonstrating its national identity with the developing social system and economy, and as a country which is proud of its military achievements on the Eastern Front. Several amateur photography clubs lost their organizational independence and since 1940, they existed only as photography groups of the Slovak Tourists and Skiers Club. The official photographic production in the Slovak State was based on the German propaganda photographs and local, popular folk traditions. The authors received their photography education during their studies at the School of Arts and Crafts or took courses for amateur photographers run by above-mentioned Miloš Dohnány in the Amateur Photography Club YMCA.
Photography was characterized by the visual language of modernism that was supposed to represent the progress by means of dynamic perspectives, diagonal composition, isolation of the motif and serial compositions. Ethnographic and landscape photography of the interwar period or a so-called national geographic photography were one of the theme sources. Other themes included public demonstrations and celebrations of the Hlinka’s Party and the Hlinka Youth, the Catholic pilgrimages, war coverage of the Eastern Front, cultural and sporting events. Reporters from the Slovak News Agency included Jozef Cincík, Ladislav Roller, Jozef Teslík and others. An in-depth research of this period, exhibited under the name In the Shadow of the Third Reich, was conducted by theorist Bohunka Koklesová.