Archives photographiques Otto Kropf

The photographic archives of Otto Kropf

  • Access and consultation : The collection can be consulted in digital form on the computers of the reading room of via Pallas. Its content is freely available. Via Pallas, enter the word « Collection Spronk » in the search engine. Select the option « Photothèque » in the right column. You can see the digital photos by clicking on the different thematic folders and on "visualiser document(s)".
  • Reproduction : The content of the collection may not be freely reproduced in the reading room. For any reproduction request by the CegeSoma teams, practical information is available here.

Collection description :

CegeSoma holds a digital copy of a part of Otto Kropf’s photographic archives, a German photographer active during the Second World War in Belgium. These archives were acquired in 1986 and then entrusted to CegeSoma by the collector Otto Spronk. In 2021 this deposit was ended and the original photographs handed back to the Spronk family.

Otto Kropf (1901 – 1970) was a German photographer. Enlisted and quickly assigned to the Propagandakompanie in Brussels at the beginning of the war, he took thousands of black-and-white photographs as part of his duties. In his spare time, he also took many color shots (kept in slide format). As a war correspondent in Belgium for the Propaganda Staffel, he belonged to the very small group of privileged photographers with access to colored photographic material.

Otto Kropf stayed in Belgium from 1940 to 1943, where he reported on daily life and war tourism across the country. In June 1941, he carried out a photographic report on the Breendonk concentration camp. He also travelled to neighboring countries. In particular, he followed German troops in the Netherlands, took pictures of the German victory parade in Paris and of the capitulation of the French army at Versailles. He then extended his journey to Denmark, Norway and Italy. His favorite themes were civil and military architecture and markets. Among other things, he left us with unique photographs of the old market of Brussels and of what could be bought there during the war.

Some of Otto Kropf’s photographs were used by Chantal Kesteloot for her book 1940-1944, Bruxelles sous l’Occupation and by Fabian van Samang for his book België bezet. De bezetting in kleur. Het dagelijks leven in België tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog, door de ogen van een Duits fotograaf.

For more information :

  • Lorneau, Marc. “Une "guerre totale" : presse et propagande durant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale." dans La mémoire, edité par Francis Balace, Paul Brusson et Eugène Buchet, 59-72. Liège : Province de Liège.
  • Van Samang, Fabian. België bezet, de bezetting in kleur : het dagelijks leven in België tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog, door de ogen van een Duits fotograaf. Tielt : Lannoo, 2004.
  • Welsch, Marc. La Belgique sous l'oeil nazi : l'occupation vue par la Propaganda Abteilung (1940-1943). Ottignies : Quorum, 1998.