Portraits of the Silent: Photobook captures Germany's wartime generation

People who grew up during in Germany during the Second World War are now in their eighth decade of life. And yet some have never talked about their traumatic experiences: the bombs, flight, fear, hunger, illness, missing fathers, overwhelmed mothers, and the silence of the post-war era, when German society preferred everything to be forgotten.

Unearthing their memories before it's too late, the Hamburg-born, London-based photographer Frederike Helwig has released Kriegskinder, an elaborately designed photobook featuring 45 portraits of the war generation, accompanied by numerous childhood recollections of its subjects.

“Many have clear or diffuse images in their minds of fleeing, of the 'Russian foe'," says Helwig. "They still feel the hunger, taste the chocolate on their tongues, given by an American soldier. Some still see in their mind’s eye the prisoners liberated from concentration camps who suddenly appeared at their doorsteps, asking for bread or shelter, but who were instead shooed away with timid gestures and curt words."

The book, published by Hatje Cantz, is on sale now for 35 Euros. Its arresting images will also be on display in an exhibition starting in winter 2018, at Berlin's Freiraum für Fotografie.

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017

© Frederike Helwig 2017