9645 kilometres of memories

Almost every person in Europe has part of their family history connected to World War II happenings. With the dying out of the last living witnesses of this time, we are entering an age of forgetting and overcoming our past. This project does not just remind of that time and the remains still perceivable in today’s society but also close a circle of time with personal records and memories of still living witnesses in photographic and text form. 

Until today experiences made during World War II influence the inhabitants of Europe. Out of an infinite number of sources, images of this time are saved in our memories. This collective

memory takes effect in a historical but also in a political way as well as psychologically. By showing different experiences people had at the same time at the very same place, we hope to help to expand the historical awareness of our generation and give an impulse for a critical discussion. 

In this work with the help of my sister Nora Schätzle, we put the focus on the part of the war taking place in the Soviet War Zone. The thread of this project is the personal diary of our grandfather who was a soldier during World War II in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and Russia.

Within these places we searched for contemporary witnesses of the Second World War. Thus to record the different personal experiences ranging from recruitment, warfare, persecution of Jews and other minorities to everyday life within this uncertain time. This records appear in form of interviews and text in the project. The pictures speak about escape, chase, destruction and war. Pictures of the present which still reflect traces of the past, photographed as photo documentary in a narrative without a dominent voice but with space for own interpretations and thoughts. Pictures which might encourage to look into ones own family history.