“Present, Absent – Jewish Heritage in Eastern Europe” Photo Exhibition Opened in Berlin

So far, I exclusively exhibited black and white photos. For the first time, the show in Auferstehungskirche in Berlin’s district Friedrichshain assembles some of my colour photos. Places do not only have a past, they also have a present. Colour photography may express this better.

I grew up with black and white photos; all pictures from my childhood are in black and white. To me they are connected with memory. When I started to photograph the remains of Eastern Europe’s Jewish heritage, I intentionaly made use of this technice. I took me a while to understand, that places do not only have a past but also a present. Jewish heritage sites are part of an urban space or rural environment. People may have their bus stop in front of an old synagogue or a public market on the ground of a former cemetery. Farmers may pass a remote cemetery in the countryside when they bring their cattle back home and others may let their goats and horses graze there. I pay more attention to this now – without giving up the black and whites. Another black and white photo exhibition in Berlin is already in preparation.

What can visitors expect from the Berlin exhibition? 20 frames with photos and a short introduction to the topic. It reads like this:

exhibition roll-up

exhibition roll-up

From the Baltic to the Black Sea, a region extends through Eastern and Central Europe where Jews lived in higher numbers than anywhere else in the world. Galicia, Bukovina, Volhynia, Podolia and Bessarabia – where the images of this exhibition were taken – are part of this region. Today, these old cultural landscapes are part of Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Moldova.

During the German occupation in World War II, the Jewish population was almost completely wiped out. Overgrown Jewish cemeteries, ruins of synagogues, study houses, schools, cultural institutions and – sometimes marked, sometimes unmarked – mass graves bear witness to Jewish life and its destruction. What managed to survive the destruction of the Germans and their allies was finally shattered by the Soviets. The violence inflicted by the dictatorships of the 20th century still speaks today of the violence that was done to the people.

Nevertheless, Jewish heritage is present in the streets and daily life and at the same time not. Jewish communities are small minorities today and Jewish monuments are not always subject of a shared view of history and commemoration.

The exhibition also offers a description of every single photo with background information, which you can download – in German only – as a PDF file.

Whatever you do, you need and depend on people who share your passion. I’m deeply grateful to Klaus-Dieter L. Ehmke of the local Protestant community and to Matthias Heyl of Ravensbrück memorial. Klaus-Dieter was an always caring organiser and host at Auferstehungskirche, where the exhibition is on display. Matthias was a kind and wise speaker at the opening. Thank you both!

I’m also grateful to all who came to join the event. Among them were old friends, whom I love and respect. Thank you all! There is no image without the eye of an viewer.

The exhibition will be on display until Easter. Those who would like to visit it, should inform themselves about opening hours in advance. If you are around, come along!

And for all who can’t visit the exhibition, here is a selection of the photos represented:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

4 thoughts on ““Present, Absent – Jewish Heritage in Eastern Europe” Photo Exhibition Opened in Berlin

  1. Thank you so much for the photos. While I am thrilled to see them surviving, I weep for what has happened to them to today. Very moving.

  2. Pingback: Zweck und Funktion – Wortbauch

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