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The radically redrawn borders of Germany and much of Europe after World War II
forced my parents to flee their Soviet occupied homelands to seek freedom and
opportunity in West Germany, and later in the United States.

Although my family has no direct connection to Berlin, I saw its stark division as a
reminder and a concentrated symbol of the forces that drove my parents west to
become American citizens.

In September of 1974 I traveled to West Berlin. It was an island of liberty surrounded
by a dull gray wall, built not for its protection but to ensure its isolation. Fascinated
by such an untenable design, I sought to record in photographs what I might find in
such an historically rare circumstance. I spent a month walking the streets of Berlin
taking pictures on both sides of the Wall. I was not unbiased in my feelings toward
Communist East Germany, yet I tried to avoid making political statements in order to
maintain a documentary style.

After more than two decades of German reunification, the disappearance of the
Wall has produced a very different Berlin. These photographs are now an historical
record: a visual account of opposing ideologies in precarious accommodation.

Sven Martson


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Sven Martson
svenola New Haven, CT, USA

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