Photographers' Blog

Ukraine Euromaidan

Kiev, Ukraine

By Marko Djurica

Slava Ukraini, Heroyam Slava!

At the beginning I didn’t understand what they were chanting.

The speaker at the podium repeated, “Slava Ukraini” and a mass of people responded in one voice: “Heroyam Slava!”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Glory to Ukraine!  Glory to its heroes!” was the answer I got from a girl wrapped in a blue and yellow flag.

Who are these heroes they are cheering? This time I resolved to find out the answer for myself.

At the end of November, massive protests began in Kiev against a decision of the Ukrainian government to withdraw from talks with the European Union over an important trade pact. The protest has continued nonstop in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), which is where the name “Euromaidan,” the term used for the demonstrations, comes from.

There were barricades, tents, music, flags, as well as thousands of people in the cold weather enjoying themselves. A big festival, I would have said. I couldn’t help making comparisons with similar protests fifteen years ago in my home city of Belgrade.

Euro in pieces

Mainz, Germany

By Kai Pfaffenbach

When heavy floods hit parts of eastern and southern Germany two months ago, a few forensic scientists sitting hundreds of miles away in a dry place at their office in Mainz (south-western Germany) knew there would be a flood coming their way as well. Not that wet, not that destructive but also massive. The 13 men and women are members of the money analyzing team of Germany’s Federal reserve, Deutsche Bundesbank, specializing in reconstructing damaged or destroyed bank notes.

Experience from previous floods told them there would be thousands of notes found in private basements, flooded bank safes or cash machines. Those notes need to be reconstructed and, once they have been verified, the Bundesbank transfers the money back to its owners’ account, while the damaged notes will be burned.

At least 50% of a note is needed but even with less left the experts are able to reconstruct the bills. Obviously, a lot of Germans do not really trust the safes of their banks and hide money in private places – buried in their gardens, underneath wine shelves or (very innovative) in their mattresses. Within eight weeks of the flood more than 100,000 notes, worth more than 3 million euros, were sent to the analyzing laboratory in Mainz.

The German-French friendship

Near Weisskessel, Germany

By Fabrizio Bensch

Photos of significant gestures between two politicians often mirror the state of the relations between the two countries – and become part of our collective consciousness. As a photojournalist, I am often witness to politicians shaking hands or embracing as part of major engagements. Often it’s daily routine.


REUTERS/Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann/Pool

However, these days if a German chancellor and a French president reach out for one another, this signifies an important development in international relations – and is a very significant symbol for a united Europe. Historically, relations were dominated by wars – for the generation of our grandfathers and grandmothers, seeing the other country as “the enemy” rather than a neighbor was a defining political and cultural force, which molded everyday actions and experiences.

At the borders where battles used to be fought, we can now pass through freely without immigration control and without having to switch currency. Rather than having francs and Deutsche Marks, French and Germans now both use the Euro. Trade is closely linked. When going shopping in a standard German supermarket, it’s possible to choose from baguettes, different French wines and a large selection of cheeses among other things. It is part of our normality; our everyday.

Carnival in Germany, when everything is upside down

By Kai Pfaffenbach

We Germans (at least most of us) seem to be well organized, diligent, reliable, politically correct and ready to help, even with our money. But there is one thing we Germans are prejudiced for – our lack of humor.

It looks like for that reason “Carnival” was invented.

Okay, that’s not true. About 600 years ago, people started big celebrations for the last days before Ash Wednesday and the end of the Christian period of fasting. To get better control of those festivities authorities “organized” Carnival. Over the years it became more and more popular to wear funny costumes.

As people behind masks cannot be easily recognized, the “Political Carnival” was invented and in the city of Mainz (the capital of Germany’s state of Rhineland Palatinate) the Rose Monday parade was used to disparage politicians since 1843.