Idols with no front cover

Finally I became a photographer. A good one, as they say. My agent thinks the same. He then likes to point to one of the front covers. Like if he did it himself. „Idols“ was the latest, Newsweek, and it hang well framed in his office, side by side with all the others. At my desk at home there is also one, but not a front cover. If I had to choose, I would have taken this one instead. It shows Peter. But nobody knows him. Except me. It was with him, it all started, my photography.
Thirty years ago, the Federal Republic of Germany payed money to let my uncle leave the Stasi governed East Germany. He officially asked for a permit to leave the country, he wrote to us in the West, asked his sister, my mother to help from the other side of the iron curtain. Then he disappeared, could write only after international human right organizations interfered with his case.
He did not carry much luggage that morning he arrived in a filthy night train from Berlin/East. Nearly one year for this moment. The West. He was tired. His old Russian camera, a copy of the best German one, as he explained me later, was the first thing he unpacked, put it close to his provisional bed. He would first stay with us.
If he was adjusting to the new life I can´t tell. The pictures he printed here were larger, higher contrast and most of the time without horizon. His older ones, also those made in Poland and Russia were smaller formated, warmer, livelier. He taught me everything. Taking pictures („Observe! More!“), film processing, printing. The first pictures I made where done with his Russian camera he gave me as a gift after buying a modern, westgerman make, also the ones I published first. For sure he would be happy. If he would be proud about my? Sometimes I ask myself which pictures he would take or choose. Agents might have commercial sense, but no idea about what a good photograph is.
He traveled to West-Berlin. By train. And his new equipment. At a police station there he told that he was followed, asked for help. Two hours later he was dead, jumped from the roof. By himself they said. Fourteenth floor. The return-ticket was not found, neither his camera.
Funeral. A hole in frozen earth. And tears, this is what I remember. The white breath of the small funeral procession looked like incense searching its way to a God.
There was a woman standing in front of his grave. Nobody knew her. It was obvious that she did not care what the others might think, she did, what nobody else did. She kneeled down. Nobody approached her. If I would have run after he, shouting „wait a moment“, I would have spoken about Peter. But she was gone before I even got this idea. Funerals kill. I clearly can remember her foreign look, her eyes wide-open that risked to dissolve in tears. Her face was white as porcelain. Even I saw it only for a second, I knew immediately that it was her on the photograph I found besides Peters little belongings. He hold her in his arms. They both smiled into the camera like there was none. Blurred landscape with little depth of field. The right arm of the woman was stretched out high, she positioned her hand as if she needed to protect Peter from the sky. Only to lay it on his shoulder, moments later, pulling him closer, and to kiss him.
For sure this photograph was made using a self-timer, somewhere far away from all, where there were only the two of them.


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