Photograph: Ricarda Schwerin
Ricarda Schwerin in Jerusalem, Photograph, ca. 1964
unknown photographer, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, © Tom Segev / Jutta Schwerin


Kaum englisch sprechend, startete ich im Jahre 1934 den populären Weekly Illustrated, danach die Zeitschrift Lilliput im Jahr 1937 und Picture Post im Jahre 1938. 1940 verließ ich England. Es folgten die Magazine Lilliput und Picture Post für Amerika ...

[Unable to speak hardly any English at all, I started the popular Weekly Illustrated in 1934, and after that the magazine Lilliput in 1937 and the Picture Post in 1938. I left England in 1940. Afterwards came the Lilliput and Picture Post magazines for America … (ed. trans.)]

Stefan Lorant, Einige Worte über mich selbst, [A few words about myself], 1979

Photographers who were forced to go into exile experienced less difficulty working in their new environment than other visual artists or those whose medium was more closely linked to language, for example. On the one hand, the relatively young photographic medium had developed fewer national characteristics, which simplified the move to other market conditions and recipients. On the other hand, Germany had been a first country of exile for many photographers working there; they had already developed the necessary adaptability.

Many photographers who went into exile made a decisive impact on the photography of their host countries, as the photographic medium had advanced considerably in Germany during the 1920s and early 1930s in particular. This was true of both the artistic photography of the Weimar Republic and press photography and reportage. Artistic photography had a special affinity with the Bauhaus, and there was a growing market of illustrated magazines for press photography. This led to high demand for good-quality images. Many photographers incorporated their experience working for German illustrated magazines into their work in exile. The artistic trends from Germany were adopted gladly in the picture editorial offices of illustrated magazines in England, France and the USA. Other fields in which photographers from Germany also made a name in exile were portrait and fashion photography.

Inasmuch as photographers in exile assimilated fresh visual stimuli, this had decisive effects on their individual artistic styles. Camera in hand, they wandered through metropolises like Paris, London and New York and experimented with montage, collage, double and multiple exposures: stylistic means that they had developed, for the most part, as elements of a modern photographic language before their exile. New expressive forms were triggered by the optical impact of diverse architectural elements, different fashions, big-city traffic in New York in particular, and a novel aesthetic of interior design.

A country like Palestine offered photographers in exile completely different sources of inspiration. There, impulses for artistic work arose from the construction of a young state. Photography in Palestine documented an important historical process, and its images influenced the self-definition of people living in the new state.

Because they frequently experienced full integration into their countries of exile, only a small number of emigrant photographers returned to Germany.