War and Peace

Sampson Tchernoff – The Serbian retreat



Sampson Tchernoff
The Serbian Retreat
Sampson Tchernoff (1887‒1929) was a Russian photographer and cameraman who worked for the French film company Gaumont, and became famous for his photographs of the Russo-Japanese War (1904‒5). He was sent to the Balkans during the First World War by the Russian film producer Drankov, and worked mainly in Serbia. Tchernoff recorded the retreat of the Serbian Army after its defeat by the Central Powers. Serbia was the country with the highest losses per head of population in Europe, and the mass withdrawal of the army through Albania to Corfu greatly increased the number of victims.

Tchernoff recorded the epic ordeal of the long march, whilst at the same time capturing the existential suffering, with images of men wandering alone or dying in the streets of hunger and exhaustion. The captions are by Tchernoff himself.