Wolfskinder: A Post-War Story
09.06 - 15.07.2017
Place: Attic of Kronprinz barracks, Kaliningrad, 38 Litovsky val, entrance No.6, 4th floor
Curator: [Yulia Bardoun]
Organizers: Baltic Branch of NCCA
With supports of: General Consulate of The Netherlands in St.-Petersburg
Opening on June 9 at 19:00 with curator Yulia Bardoun and artist Claudia Heinermann
Through photographs and texts, the authors of the project Claudia Heinermann and Sonya Winterberg uncover the stories of Wolfskinder – today elderly people living in Lithuania, but in the past German children from Königsberg, who had lost their parents in the World War II and found salvation from the disasters of the post-war times in the Lithuanian families.
In autumn 1944, due to the British Royal Air Force air strikes in Königsberg, primary prohibition on evacuation of civilians imposed by German authorities and subsequent Red Army offensive, a humanitarian disaster breaks out in East Prussia, in which thousands of people perish, lose their homes, face starvation and a challenge of surviving under harsh climatic and social conditions. In search of salvation from hunger and death thousands of German orphans were trying to reach Lithuania in any possible way – walking through the forests, over the ice of the river Neman or taking freight trains. There, in foster families – they found shelter, food and work. Most of them were never able to attend school; even today, many cannot read or write. In general, the children were given a new identity and Lithuanian names to disguise their origins. Under these conditions they were able to escape repatriation to Germany or deportation to Siberia.
Some hundred Wolfskinder were discovered in Lithuania after the separation from Russia. Today some fifty of them still live there.
Due to various reasons, the stories of Wolfskinder have been silenced for a long time. It was only in the 1990s, when by then elderly people found it possible to share their memories with researchers, journalists and filmmakers, that the history of Wolfskinder started becoming public.
Exhibition is one of the results of a longstanding research project of the photographer Claudia Heinermann and Sonya Winterberg, who in the period from 2011 to 2014 managed to meet forty-two Wolfskinder remaining in Lithuania. While Sonya was conducting biographical interviews within the scope of an oral history project Claudia concentrated on taking photographs of the individuals, their living conditions and residential environment as well as historic photographs and documents. The artist also engaged intensively in landscape and nature photography, as they play a major role in the collective narrative and memory of the wolf children. The special way in which landscape and documentary photography are being arranged in the exhibition results in unique panoramas of this fascinating aspect of the recent European history.
Claudia Heinermann (*1967, Germany) – artist working with mixed media and photography. Lives and works in The Netherlands. Studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Enschede from 1986 to 1991. She started out working in mixed media with photography at its core. Over time she became more interested in documentary photography and went on to study at the Fotoacademie Amsterdam from 2004 to 2006. Ever since she is engaged in long-term observational documentary projects with an emphasis on 20th century historical topics and the consequences of war and genocide. Characteristic for her work are controversial issues that she captures in unique ways. More at claudiaheinermann.fotoplek.nl
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday, 17:00-20:00; Saturday, 12:00-17:00
Admission fee: 100₽
Communication: Andrey Efits, firstname.lastname@example.org, +7 (4012) 604-329, +7 (921) 263-56-00