Cologne in the post-war years is really not a no-man's-land for photography. The archives and museums are full of depictions by established artists, but also of documentary images. It is proud evidence of the economic miracle that was commissioned primarily by housing associations and industrial companies. Typical views are those that stage the striking buildings of GAG Immobilien AG representing the “New Cologne”, mostly without a single person. For the photographer Chargesheimer, the void is an expression of a melancholy that is due to the reconstruction of his beloved city dictated by the concrete. In the case of the recordings for the housing association, on the other hand, the emphasis on the bare architectural structure speaks of the desireto displace the ruins of the war and with them the guilt. But there are also new, lively forms of urbanity, as illustrated by Candida Höfer in her early series “Turks in Germany”.

In the 1950s and 1960s, workers were recruited from Italy, Greece or Turkey, for example, to make up for the war-related shortage in Germany.

In public photographs, the "guest workers", as migrant workers were euphemistically called because of their limited right to stay, only appeared according to the normative ideas of their employers: concentrated and hard-working at the industrial machines, cautiously happy at company parties or happy in front of the new social housing buildings assigned to them, their cramped ones Inner life is not visible.

Self-confident productions

How migrant workers themselves saw their home country for a while is now presented to the eyes - and ears - in the Ludwig Museum. The show gathers private photos, written testimonies and recorded voices that tell of the experience and life in the new environment. As different as these diverse depictions of arrival and living situations, of everyday life and festive days are, one thing becomes clear: the medium of photography is consciously used to appropriate the new location and for self-confident staging in front of the initially unfamiliar backdrop to give those who stayed at home an image of the To convey life in Cologne. There are seldom snapshots, most photos are carefully composed and, as was customary with family photographs of the time, primarily focus on positive occasions and situations.

A recording shows how Yücel Asçioglu and his friends in the Ford dormitory toast the birth of their son in Konya, Turkey. Another picture shows Sofia Zacharaki, who had to leave her daughters behind in Greece for a year in order to earn money for the family in Germany. She presents herself in front of the Leonard Monheim company dormitory with female colleagues in company smocks to make the girls understand their absence. The latter in turn send the mother a photo in which they are wearing the clothes in front of a Greek mountain backdrop that she had sent them from Cologne. Asimina Paradissa, who had already helped the local photographer develop prints in Greece, was often asked to take photos at weddings, family gatherings or parties. Did she come into the picture herselfshe also directed. One shot shows her from a monumental view from below, proudly posing in fashionable slim pants and a short sweater in front of a new building. The importance of photography for migrant workers can also be seen in the fact that many parents gave their children their own camera and taught them how to arrange a scene well, but also how to organize experimental images.