Fall of the Berlin Wall: Magnum photographer Raymond Depardon captured some of the most famous images of the city in 1989

Depardon recorded the German capital from 1961 to 2013 and captured the Berlin Wall from its inception to its fall

Philip Sweeney
Saturday 08 November 2014 01:00
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Looking back on his childhood on his father's farm near Lyon, Raymond Depardon recalls his earliest contact with Germans – two soldiers working as farm labourers – as a harbinger of his future work.

In 1961, having moved to Paris to work for the small Dalmas agency, he was sent to Berlin to photograph the visit of Bobby Kennedy.

Speaking neither German nor English, he wandered into the French sector, to find himself sole press witness to the spectacle of a street divided down the pavement by the early prototype low brick structure surmounted with canvas sheeting to prevent the two sides from communicating.

In 1989, when he was by now established with the esteemed Magnum agency, the French newspaper Libération called him to get to Berlin urgently and, again wandering the backstreets almost devoid of press, he witnessed the first shabbily dressed East Berliners walking fearfully into the West, breaking into tears only after the first hundred metres.

Most recently Depardon has covered Berlin Wall tourists, and lent his support to the movement to keep from demolition the last kilometre left of the monumental structure his camera has for so long chronicled.

'Berlin' by Raymond Depardon, published by Steidl; steidl.de

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