1948 Poland – Finland

After completing his Life assignment in St. Moritz, Bischof flew back to finish his work in Eastern Europe. In August of 1948 he had his car shipped to Northern Europe.

1948 Poland​

School girl painting, Otwock, Poland, May 1948

“Barely 20 kilometers outside the capital city of Warsaw lies Otwock, where more than 400 children receive a six month respite in what constitutes the biggest campaign undertaken by the ‘Swiss Relief’.”

Mother and child, Warsaw, Poland, May 1948

“These people are fighting to survive, they have suffered, have suffered unspeakably. And their bodies, their faces, yes, their unborn children bear the traces of this work, no stone resting upon another, crooked and unhealthy. And yet, 10 minutes outside of the city, flowers are blossoming and the lark warbles.”

1948 Finland​

September, 1948

“I have yet to make a big decision. I have the ‘Magnum’ contract in my hand. This is an agency of photographers – organized on a cooperative basis – the best in the world – Capa, Cartier-Bresson, Chim and Rodger. What is important to me is that they are all sound people and socialist inspired. Two of them were in the Spanish Civil war. They are free people, too independent to bind themselves to one magazine.”

To Alfred Herzer, Koli, Finland, September 1948

Dear Mr. Herzer,

I have in mind a timely book that will contribute towards enlightening the public about contemporary problems:  A travelogue from the Black Sea up to the polar sea. Organized by country, with short passages of text between the photos that tell of the most important events in a particular country and which convey something about their current situation. The photos have to be selected and organized in such a way as to convey a message in and of themselves.

Sincerely,

Werner Bischof

Reindeer, Rovaniemi, Finland, October 1948

The morning was bitterly cold, everything frozen white, under 22°C below zero. I went up into the mountains on my own. An elderly, brightly colored Lapp was chopping up birch trees. I asked where the ‘toros’ (reindeer) were. 

Oh, far away, he thought. And then, like the aurora borealis, a creeping, jostling, earthy gray mass, grows darker, extended, soft and broad, I hear the barking of the dogs. At their head a Lapp leading a beautiful white animal, behind them a large number of antlered beasts. The herd is covered in a fine coat of snow.”

Werner Bischof Estate
Am Wasser 55
CH-8049 Zurich
Switzerland
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