Hans‐Jurgen Burkard

As I was logging some archives today, I came across an interesting letter handwritten by someone named Hans to someone named Anna. The letter describes Hans’ difficulties in regaining entry to Russia to continue an assignment for the German magazine STERN, and goes on to detail his frustrations with what was happening in the world of photojournalism at the time, among other things. I found it fascinating as a student in the photojournalism program, and I’m sure my classmates would too so I wanted to put it up on the ICP Library’s blog.

Deirdre and I (mainly Deirdre) did some digging based on the clues in the letter and determined that it was written by Hans‐Jurgen Burkard to Anna, Cornell Capa’s assistant. Here is the letter in it’s entirety.

Based on what he says in the letter, we imagine it was written sometime in the early 90s. The book he mentions publishing is, we believe, “Jenseits von Kreml und Rotem Platz”, which was published by Schirmer/Mosel in 1995. You can find a copy of it in the library, and although it is written in German, it is definitely worth stopping by to take a look through. Some of the most impacting photographs I’ve seen in my time here at the library and they demonstrate a pretty extraordinary level of access and depth of coverage. I’ve attached a sampling below, but you should definitely come look at it in person.

It turns out Hans‐Jurgen was awarded ICP’s Infinity Award in 1994, and below is his biography from that awards pamphlet. It even makes reference to the correspondent he mentions in his letter, Katja Gloger.

I’m so glad I came across this letter! It was so interesting to hear the trials of such an accomplished photojournalist in the midst of such an important assignment, and to hear an insider’s thoughts on what was going on, both in Russia and the surrounding areas and in the field of photojournalism at that time.

Beth Levendis is a full time student in the The Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program at the ICP who we are lucky to have working with us at the Library.

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