The division of the occupation zones into two separate economic and political systems had been becoming increasingly palpable since 1947. In 1949, this resulted in the foundation of the two German states and the GDR's closure of the interior borders, finally culminating in the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
In 2007, the German Historical Museum acquired the photographic legacy of Henry Ries, whose photographs of the Berlin Blockade and the reaction of the Western Powers, the Berlin Airlift, occupy an important place in his work. Henry Ries was born in Berlin in 1917. In 1937, Ries, who was Jewish, fled Germany for New York, where he embarked on his career as a photographer. In 1945, he returned to Europe as a soldier, where his first job was as a photojournalist for the OMGUS Observer. He went on to work as a photographic correspondent for the New York Times in Europe from 1947 onwards. He witnessed the first decisive years of the Cold War during his time in Berlin. In the 1950s, he returned to New York, where he pursued a varied photographic career. Ries died at his home in New York State in 2004.
The Berlin Blockade of 1948 / 1949 is at the heart of the exhibition. Henry Ries’ works form the exhibition’s main focus, and are supplemented by documents and artefacts from the German Historical Museum’s collections to create a complete picture of the years 1947 to 1949. Visitors also gain an insight into the different stages of Henry Ries’ life, and his photographic interpretation of post-war Europe is broadened by the inclusion of his photo reportage series from Austria, France, Italy and Spain. See for more Berlin ....
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BERLIN AIRLIFT, 1948. An American C-54 transport aircraft about to land at Templehof airport during the Berlin Airlift, 1948. © Henry Ries / The New York Times / DHM.