Read, Debate: Engage.


May 28, 2014
by:Murat Suner
The inhumanity and cruelty of war reveals itself on a very individual human basis: the suffering of civilians and of those who often desperately fight for freedom, the loss of their lives, their health, their beloved ones, their shelter, and their dignity remains abstract as long as we don't see and recognize the concrete circumstances of the individual. Because first and foremost soldiers act as perpetrators they only appear as victims by their actions in the second place. The ones being lucky enough to return home from military deployment are in many cases not able to deal with their actions and what they experienced during war. Posttraumatic stress disorder is a widespread phenomenon among soldiers, but not much is known about how it effects their every day life during or after their deployment. The Berlin based photographer Ina Schoenenburg followed and portrayed German soldiers at their homes and every day environment for about a year.

Until May 7th 2013 4.299 German soldiers in total were involved in the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. As of May 2013 53 members of the Bundeswehr lost their lives. 759 ISAF soldiers were treated in military hospitals of the Bundeswehr due to PTSD as a direct cause of their deployment.

However, for a long time the suffering of traumatised soldiers had disappeared from the German peoples’ consciousness. And also after Germany’s re-unification the soldiers’ fates were overshadowed by a fundamental national debate about foreign deployment. Not until the former minister of defence Guttenberg spoke about war in 2010, instead of combat operations, soldiers were finally perceived as affected subjects. Nevertheless, most people still lack the knowledge and access to the actual situation of soldiers returning from war deployment.

Over a period of one year Ina Schoenenburg photographed four soldiers suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder in their domestic, social and every day life environments. All portrayed soldiers were stationed in Afghanistan and heavily traumatised during their foreign deployment. The photographer shows the extent to which this disease burdens these soldiers and their relatives, and how war or the deployment in areas of conflict can change a person. Her work scrutinizes the stereotypical image of the strong, ever functioning soldier. The images of the series Flashback are narrative snapshots. They show real, yet casually taken portraits and scenes of every day life.

Ina Schoenenburg was born in 1979 in Berlin. She graduated from Ostkreuzschule in 2012, finishing Sybille Fendt’s class with her thesis work „Blickwechsel“. Her current work „Flashback“ - funded by a scholarship of VG Bild-Kunst and nominated for the Otto-Steinert-Award 2013 – is being exhibited for the first time. 

The exhibition opens June 6, 2014 at 7pm and can be visited until July 13, 2014 at Exposure Twelve Gallery, Greifswalder Straße 217, 10405 Berlin

Article written by:
murat sw portrait
Murat Suner
Co-founder, Managing Director, Editorial Board Member, Author