We announce here some private photos taken during the film–shoot of Karl Ritter's Luftwaffe film Besatzung Dora in the USSR in October 1942. They are in a Wehrmacht soldier's album, unlabelled, which we acquired in September 2018 in Berlin at auction. The auction listing attributed the few photographs in the album to Ritter's Stukas film of 1941. This auction took place 9 weeks after we discovered the long–lost film script for Karl Ritter's Legion Condor feature film during the same visit to Berlin. We became totally focused on researching, writing and publishing our new book on that film, and this photo album was put on the proverbial back–burner until now.
We know that the photo album snapshots are definitely not from Stukas for a number of reasons. First, the camera photo (see left) has the clapperboard with the Ufa Film number and RITTER-PROD. shown. Even though the film title is obscured, Ufa Film Nr. 1051 is Besatzung Dora. Secondly, Gottfried Ritter was not on the Stukas' film team, but was on Dora's as A.D. to his father, and was also the film's Editor back in Ufastadt–Babelsberg. Third, the 'Feindflug' enemy sortie scene with the garlands and victory arch as shown being constructed and matching the film's lobby card, is proof positive. Finally, there are photos in Karl Ritter's private diaries which show the Gostkino air base Officer's Mess which align with photos in the album, such as the one with actor Joseph Dahmen.
Anything to do with "DORA," -- the banned Luftwaffe air reconnaissance film from 1943 -- is exciting to us, although these photos, even had they been known at the time of purchase, would have missed our THE MAKING OF THE CREW OF THE DORA book's publishing deadline by more than two years.
Nonetheless, we are pleased to show some of them here for the first time:
The unidentified rail station and tracks near the film shooting location. This is most probably Luga, 16 kilometers from the Luftwaffe's air base in Gostkino. This was the nearest railhead to the base.
The forested landscape surrounding some of the fllm–shoot. This most likely is adjacent to the village of Ropti, 8.3 kilometers from the air base, where we know from Ritter's diary the village scenes were filmed .
Here is a candid photo of soldiers making the signage to be used in the FEINDFLUG ceremony scene, spreading the materials out along the train tracks:
Here is the snapshot from the album of the Besatzung Dora scene with film actors and actual Luftwaffe personnel and air crews before the filming. (Note that behind the men is an aircraft, which does not appear in the Ufa film still).
And here is the film scene as represented in the Ufa lobby card:
Here a candid shot of actor Joseph Dahmen 'conducting' in the Officer's Mess at the Gostkino Fliegerhorst in the Soviet Union, with soldiers looking on. The man at the extreme left of the photo in civilian clothes is Gottfried Ritter, Assistant Director to Karl Ritter, and his youngest son.
The Ufa camera crew (Gottfried Ritter at left) in the muddy road of the Soviet village on the outskirts of the Gostkino air base:
Compare the photo above with this press photo on the filming of the movie in a muddy road in the Occupied Soviet Union which appeared in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung Nr.50/1942:
....and compare the shrouded Ufa 35mm motion picture camera in the above clipping to the camera in the photo below:
The final album photo is that of Karl Ritter, in Luftwaffe uniform, arriving at the filming location in his car. Note the Ufa 35mm motion picture camera in a weather-proof shroud. This is the first time this image has been published, along with the above photos.
Our guess is that this photo was taken in the railhead town of Luga. 16 kilometers from the Gostkino air base. The village with muddy roads used in some film scenes was Ropti, 8.3 kilometers from the air base. We know today that Ropti's forest was a Partisan base used by a Commander Sherstnyov and forty-two guerillas. The area in which the Dora film was shot was a Partisan area, as shown in this map from Ritter's diary (and reprinted in our book):
Our The Making of The Crew of the Dora book has 90 photographs, maps, illustrations and sketches reproduced in it --none of the above photos are amongst those -- and 15 of them were taken during the Gostkino and Oblast Leningrad locations in October 1942, and published for the first time. Many of the book's photos have never been seen prior to publication, and came from Karl Ritter's private unpublished diaries and from his family in Argentina.