berlin: colour for the republic

© kurt schwarzer - the restaurant at interhotel zum löwen, leipzig [1967]

the german democratic republic [1949-1990] may no longer be, it's very much a significant part of contemporary german history. as time passes the country's cultural legacy is slowly being rediscovered and seen in a slightly different light by the general public. currently on at the deutsches historisches museum in berlin is farbe für die republik, an exhibition on government-commissioned photography of life in the german democratic republic. it presents a range of colour photographs, mainly from the extensive archives of two german photojournalists, martin schmidt [1925] and kurt schwarzer ([927–2012], and which are now preserved in the collection of the museum. both were freelance photographers who not only worked for various magazines, but also took on assignments from government-related mass organisations and companies. schmidt and schwarzer traversed the nation, visiting numerous sites and places, from publicly owned companies and agricultural collectives, to kindergartens and homes for the elderly. both stuck to the ordered mandate to shoot only the positive aspects of the nation. interestingly, colour photography was given a very important role to convey the socialist ideology as it was considered - bear in mind that these were the 1960s - to give a highly positive spin on the imagery [on through aug 31]. location: deutsches historisches museum, unter den linden 2 [mitte].

© kurt schwarzer - the new skoda 1000mb in front of pillnitz castle [1964] and martin schmidt - view from elderly home in berlin [1980]