For their book titled “Flucht – Ankommen in Deutschland” (“Escape – Arrival in Germany”), planned as part of their publication series, the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (bpb, Federal Agency for Civic Education) had been looking for a more image-driven approach. To accomplish this goal, the bpb collaborated with laif and came up with a concept, first of all for the book and further on also for the exhibition “Neu in Deutschland”. Based on this concept, the photographers Johannes Arlt, Erol Gurian and Gordon Welters portrayed refugees after their arrival in Germany (in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and Passau) in the winter of 2015/16 and gave them the opportunity to express their wishes and hopes in writing, in form of a letter.
Doctor Hans-Georg Golz, head of the print department at the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, says: “Once more we are delighted to have found in laif such an experienced partner for our exhibition and book project. The photographers they suggested and were willing to face this delicate task, delivered results that first blew our minds and subsequently made us very happy. Our expectations were met in every possible respect, and once more our professional cooperation with laif has proven itself.“
The wishes of the people portrayed in the pictures, focused mainly on things that we largely take for granted, like peace, a roof over our heads, not to feel subjected to persecution, the perspective of a job. Many of them want to look ahead now and become a member of the German society. But several of their letters reflect sadness over the loss of their home and hardships they had suffered in their home country as well as during their escape.
Most importantly, though, the photos of the people portrayed and their respective wishes and hopes put down in writing are turning dry numbers, data and facts into a story, transforming a big issue into something tangible and comprehensive, lending faces to sheer statistics. “We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the refugees portrayed in this book. Their openness and their willingness to participate in this project have made this book possible in the first place,” says Doctor Hans-Georg Golz of bpb.
The book is flanked by an exhibition, an idea also developed as a joint cooperation of the bpb and laif, showing 25 images from the book, originally exhibited for the first time at the laif photogalerie in Cologne in September 2016. laif core photographer and videographer David Klammer captured the opening event. In an interview Doctor Hans-Georg Golz, head of the print department at the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, enlarged on his appreciation for the cooperation with laif.