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Photographs by Thomas Hoepker and Daniel Biskup at the German Historical Museum
Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel stands in front of a photograph of a Trabant (akaTrabi) by German photographer Thomas Hoepker at the opening of the photo exhibition 'Ueber Leben' (About Lives) at the German Historical Museum in Berlin, Germany. The exhibition that pictures of the GDR and Eastern European countries runs until 03 October 2011. EPA/MICHAEL KAPPELER.

BERLIN.- For the first time the German Historical Museum presents a selection of largely unknown photographs from the work of the two photojournalists that has never before been shown in this form. The exhibition is on view from May 11 through October 3, 2011.

This year the German Historical Museum is recalling the division of Europe, whose visible sign was the Berlin Wall, which was erected 50 years ago, in 1961. This embodiment of the “Iron Curtain” and reminder of the Cold War divided not only Berlin, but also separated East from West Germany and symbolised the East-West conflict.

When the Wall fell on 9 November 1989, it meant not only the end of the division of Germany, but also heralded in the end of the Soviet Union and its domination of Communist East Europe. In 1991 – 30 years after the Wall was built – the fall of the Soviet Union was followed by the break-up of the multinational state of Yugoslavia, which then got caught up in a bloody civil war marked by pogroms.

The museum is dedicating an extensive photo exhibition with works by Thomas Hoepker and Daniel Biskup to these seminal events, works that document the occurrences in different ways. The two photographers overlap in their coverage of the political upheaval in the GDR and its consequences, but the spectrum of the pictures on display is much broader:

Thomas Hoepker, born in 1936, lived in East Germany from 1974 to 1976 as a correspondent for the weekly magazine Stern. He had already begun to photograph everyday life in East Germany in 1959.

Daniel Biskup, born in 1962, began in 1991 to travel not only through the Soviet Union as it was breaking up, but also took his camera to the crisis-ridden Balkans.

The exhibition is a two-part display with around 280 pictures by the West German photographers Thomas Hoepker and Daniel Biskup. In their different ways the photographers document the current events that took place between the building of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. Thomas Hoepker’s camera focuses on the unfamiliar life in the “other Germany”.

With ironic detachment he observed everyday life in socialist East Germany in the time between 1959 and 1991 and the changes that took place after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the 1990s Daniel Biskup followed the political and social upheavals in the former German Democratic Republic, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the clashes in the Balkan states. With great empathy he focused on the people who were fighting for survival in the cities and refugee camps.

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