Published by Distanz
In their book “Wüstungen,” Anne Heinlein (b. 1977) and Göran Gnaudschun (b. 1971) delve deep into recent German history. Between 1952 and 1988, the authorities razed more than a hundred villages, farms, hamlets, and homesteads on East German territory near the border with West Germany. The structures were in the way of a clear field of fire, difficult to guard, or simply too close to the line of demarcation. The people who lived there were forcibly resettled, forever losing their homes. Gnaudschun und Heinlein traveled to these localities to take photographs and write; they interviewed contemporary witnesses and asked them to see their photo albums. They also spent a lot of time in the archives of the Stasi, the border troops, and the West German border police. The photographs, maps, and documents they gathered are an integral component of the book, ranging freely across different historical strata. The deliberately unscholarly use of the documentary material highlights how abstract grand schemes always also impact individuals; some people contrive these plans and implement them while others suffer the consequences. Images and texts examine the passage of time, the way people live with their memories, and the significance of flight and expulsion as repercussions of the inner German border.