Volkmar Sebb. Photographs from Auschwitz

Auschwitz. Entrance with the label "Arbeit macht frei", Foto: Volkmar Sebb, ©Swinda Fischer

Volkmar Sebb. Photographs from Auschwitz

Auschwitz. Entrance with the label "Arbeit macht frei", Foto: Volkmar Sebb, ©Swinda Fischer
07.10.2020 – 09.11.2020


Volkmar Sebb (1942 - 2012)

Volkmar Sebb was born on June 7th, 1942 as the son of a Wehrmacht officer in Dresden. After training as an advertising photographer at DEWAG (German Advertising and Advertising Company) in Dresden, he went into business for himself in 1967. He received orders for brochures, large-format advertising and catalogs in order to advertise GDR products in the former Eastern Bloc, but also in Western Europe, the USA and other countries. From 1969 until its dissolution in 1990, Volkmar Sebb was a member of the Association of Visual Artists of the GDR.

In June 1969 he came to Oświęcim by chance on a vacation trip to Poland and came across the former concentration camp Auschwitz. There he joined a tour that left deep marks on him. Back in Dresden he wrote to Tadeusz Szymański (1917-2002), who had led the group. A lifelong friendship developed. Szymański, a former prisoner and Holocaust survivor, was heavily involved in the construction of a memorial on the site of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and was in charge of the camp museum's collections until his retirement in 1977.

Volkmar Sebb drove to Auschwitz again and again - even in times when martial law was declared in Poland (1981-1983) and he openly showed his sympathy for the democracy movement around the Solidarność trade union in the GDR. This resulted in the loss of orders and customers.

His photographs from Auschwitz were never exhibited in the GDR. They were presented for the first time in 1995 by the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation in the German Hygiene Museum.

The photographs are not taken with a scientific or documentary purpose. On the other hand, they show how much Volkmar Sebb has personally connected with the place. His gaze concentrates on the picture motif, dispenses with color, and reduces it even more by using the winter snowy landscape.

Volkmar Sebb is probably the first German with a cycle of works on Auschwitz. He was planning an illustrated book with his photographs from Auschwitz, which, however, was no longer possible due to his death in 2012.

The exhibition

The exhibition shows photographs from Volkmar Sebb's private archive. They are undated and some are not labeled. They were created during Volkmar Sebb's travels to Auschwitz - mainly in the 1980s. Parts of the 1995 exhibition are also presented.

In cooperation with Hatikva e. V. and the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation.