edited by Matteo Menotto

Born in Berlin in 1900, Fritz Eschen is one of the most important German photojournalists and portrait photographers. Despite his Jewish roots and unlike several of his family members, he survived the era of National Socialism, for his second marriage to Gertrude Thumm saved him from deportation. He became especially interested in the lively cultural scene that had reestablished itself in Berlin after 1945, and he photographed many of its representatives. C/O Berlin, in cooperation with the Deutsche Fotothek in Dresden, is presenting approximately 120 photographs from the oeuvre of Fritz Eschen.

When “zero hour” struck for postwar Germany, and the country capitulated, Berlin was left in ruins. The Tiergarten—Berlin’s central park—was deforested, the massive Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the heart of the city bombed and crumbling, the historic Nicolai Quarter a burned-out shell, and Lehrter train station crowded with refugees. Yet, slowly, the routines of everyday life found their way back into the lives of Germans in the wake of the Second World War. The new beginning was marked by unemployment and poverty, underground economies and black market trade, occupying forces and the occupied population. Photographer Fritz Eschen investigated life and survival in the destroyed city of Berlin after 1945, leaving no aspect of public life unexamined. His photographs are historic documents of modern history, entirely free of pathos and dogmatism, and unique—for the very reason that their motifs are so unspectacular.

C|O Berlin : Fritz Eschen . Berlin under the Makeshift Roof – Photographs 1945 to 1955
exhibition: 7 May to 26 June 2011
Oranienburger Str 35/36 . 10117 Berlin . Germany

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