Rotterdam Photo

Stefan Nieland

Kein Held

‘Kein Held’ is a personal photographic essay exploring the story of my grandfather Heinz Nieland who fought in the German Wehrmacht and became a prisoner of war in France during the Second World War. Whilst imprisoned, Heinz collected over 800 poems and created three books out of them. By combining my images with the poetry and with pictures my grandfather took during the war I aim to create a dialogue between the past and the present.

Heinz Nieland died in 1971 and I never got to know him. Realizing that during his imprisonment, he was the same age I am today, I was fascinated and tried to put together the puzzle pieces. I decided to travel through France to visit the former prison camps where Heinz was held captive. 

By reading the poems and following his traces I tried to find a connection to him. Even though he was my age, I couldn’t relate to being a soldier and even less to fighting for a fascist regime. This is why it made me proud when I discovered documents stating that my great-grandfather was an anti fascist. It also added a complexity to the narrative I tried to include.

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Instagram: @stefan_nieland

Rotterdam Photo

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