Interview by Ricardo Figueira – euronews journalist.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was, without doubt, one of the major events of the second half of the 20th Century. But if you know the whole story, it is largely thanks to the media, thanks to the photographs we have seen… photos that have made headlines and become iconic images around the world.
Stéphane Duroy, hello, you are a photographer for Agence VU ‘. On the evening of November 9, 1989, you were in Berlin, quite by chance. Tell me what was your reaction when you heard the news, when you were told that the Wall had fallen?
Stéphane Duroy – photographer: “On the eve of November 9, I was in East Berlin in the process of walking the streets of Berlin, which were very quiet indeed. Only as I returned to my hotel room at night in West Berlin did I see all the frenzy around the wall – that was my first contact with the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
Ricardo Figueira – euronews. I guess you started taking photographs right away?
Stéphane Duroy – photographer: “Yes, of course, by reflex. It was not, indeed, very interesting, it was like always, at these major events, it happens a lot, but emotion is always a little high and it obscures the interesting things to photograph. So it took until the next day to take pictures that would depict, if you like, for the future, the real fall of the Berlin Wall.”
Ricardo Figueira – euronews: I invite you now to comment on some pictures for us. Here is a picture that became famous… a photograph that was circulated in newspapers everywhere. It was taken exactly where and when?
Stéphane Duroy – photographer: “It was taken at the Brandenburg Gate, just very early on the morning of November 11. The cracks in the Wall only took place later on. The breaches did not occur on the 9th or the 10th, but on November 11.”
Ricardo Figueira – euronews: And what happened there?
Stéphane Duroy – photographer: “There was a huge crowd who shouted, quite vociferously, with Vopos (Volkspolizei = Vopo or police of the GDR) stationed along the top of the Wall and masses of young people began to really break down the Wall. If you want, their idea was to make a breach and, indeed, destroy the Wall. It was really the end of the Berlin Wall, physically, and symbolically.”
Ricardo Figueira – euronews: In this second picture we see something we can hardly see any more in Berlin… these large voids. You have taken many photographs of Berlin during the last 30 years. How do you feel about the metamorphosis of this city, a broken city, to the great metropolis of today?
Stéphane Duroy – photographer: “There is an initial reaction, which is to rejoice that Berlin, a city separated by a wall is reconciled, that families are found, that the German people’s desire for reunification is realised and European politics is appeased. But I, personally, have a very intimate relationship with Berlin, for many reasons, for historical reasons… the end of the Wall was really the end of an era. Very, very special… it was the rendezvous of many artists, it was a kind of immersion, a bit narcissistic… but in many ways it was a good time and I regret its passing.”
An exhibition of Stéphane Duroy’s work in Berlin is taking place at the In Camera Gallery in Paris, until 22 December. His book “Berlin”, is published by Watermarks.