Greetings from Berlin 1981 – Photos of a Divided City

photos: Maarten van den Berg.

With this article we would like to share with you a very special gem that was submitted to us by our reader Maarten from the Netherlands. We’re especially excited about what he sent us as we haven’t had any of this part of Berlin’s history on the blog – at least not specifically this decade. The story he shared with us concerns his visit to Berlin in 1981 – a time when reunification was not even on the horizon, a time when Berlin was still a divided city with the wounds of that division still raw. and open. During his visit he took street photos of West and East Berlin, and of course many prints of the wall that seemed to be some kind of tourist attraction at the time. It is impressive to see the city we are so used to today in this state. So many of those old Berlin slum areas are now integrated into city life and filled with new places and buildings that make us forget the scars they once were.

Maarten has self-published a photo book from this great series which you can order here. He also shared a few words about the tour and the photos he took that were long lost and recently resurfaced. We hope you enjoy these images!

“Arriving at Bahnhof Zoo station one morning in October 1981, I could not have guessed that this was the start of a lasting fascination with Berlin. I was invited by Christian and Wulf, who made me discover their city. It was the early 1980s with their economic depression, their lost generation and no future. And Berlin, that island in the middle of a sea of ​​communism, was the center of it all.

“It was brutal, feverishly energetic, electrifying and it all happened 24/7 under the shadow of the wall. Being a 25 year dropout from the Dutch art school, I was mainly interested in artistic and musical subcultures. But the first week turned out to be a non-stop party train, and I went from club to club, dancing the night away. Before leaving, I took my camera for two walks during the day and took pictures. The first walk was in East Berlin to Prenzlauer Berg. The next day, in West Berlin, I followed the wall to Kreuzberg.

“Back home in the Netherlands, I made prints and eventually lost track of these photographs on subsequent trips from house to house. It was during my stay in Berlin Neukölln in 2017 that I noticed that young people were mainly interested in the recent past of their hometown. I decided to go in search of these lost images. When I found the negatives it turned out that 40% was ruined by the humidity. I finished restoring the surviving images in December 2017 and made this book. – Maarten van den Berg

Diesen Artikel auf deutsch lesen.

by Franc
January 14, 2021
in Photos, Stories

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