About the collection
Numerous pictorial testimonies of Sorbian culture have been handed down in the Deutsche Fotothek's collection, including in the bequests of Paul. W. John, Richard Peter jun., Roger Rössing and Erich Höhne.
However, the approximately 25,000 photographs presented in this collection also come mainly from the collections of the Sorbisches Institut in Bautzen.
On display are:
- Carte-de-Visite from the Johann Meschgang collection,
- the photo collection "Lusatian folklore and regional studies" by Ernst Tschernik,
- the picture collection of the former Institut für sorbische Volksforschung,
- the photo archive of Sorbisches Kultur- und Volksbildungsamt Bautzen and
- the photographic estate of Kurt Heine.
Johann Meschgang (Jan Mekank) Collection
The Carte-de-Visite collection with portraits of persons, families and groups from the Sorbian Catholic region in Upper Lusatia comes from the estate of Jan Mekank (John Meschgang). In the collection, the dominance of female portraits is noticeable, which was probably also due to Mekank's interest in folkloristic costumes. In 1957, he published his findings under the title "Die Tracht der katholischen Sorben = Drasta katolskich Serbow". The photos included in the collection were taken for private use only. In the early days Sorbian carte-de-visite were not representations of traditional costumes or demonstrations of the national par excellence, but visual means of bourgeois self-representation and emancipation. The costume here was not a costume for the special occasion, but everyday clothes.
Collection of photos "Lusatian folklore and regional studies" by Ernst Tschernik (Arnot Cernik)
In the years 1954-58 Dr. Ernst Tschernik compiled a "Population statistics of the Sorbian Lusatia", the results of which could not be published until 1995. In this context, a photographic documentation of approximately 1500 photographs was created showing architecture, especially in rural areas and folkloristic aspects, as well as street scenes, everyday scenes and the working world in Upper, Middle and Lower Lusatia from the years 1954 to 1956, which are positive prints glued on the inside of fold-out index cards with the most important data contents on the front.
Image collection of the former "Institut für sorbische Volksforschung"
Village views, half-timbered houses, planked barns, transport baskets for geese, women at the spinning wheel, wedding in the Spreewald, baptism in the church of Schleife, Corpus Christi in Crostwitz, Easter egg painters, Johannisreiter and Christkind, bagpipers and haymaking - the spectrum of motifs in the folkloristic picture collection of the former Institut für sorbische Volksforschung corresponds to the classical canon of folklore: Folk architecture, traditional handicrafts and working methods, costumes, customs. Geographically it is defined by the region of Lusatia or Sorbian settlement area: especially the Spreewald, the former estate of Hoyerswerda, the parish of Schleife and the Catholic Upper Lusatia.
Photo archive of the Sorbian culture and education office (Sorbisches Kultur- und Volksbildungsamt)
The collection comprises around 4,000 photographs documenting Sorbian contemporary cultural life in the 1950s and 1960s (customs, theatre, political events, school), as well as regional and folklore studies of Sorbian Lusatia (churches, castle walls, monuments, architecture, landscape, traditional costumes).
The photo archive of the Sorbian Culture and Education Office in Bautzen was digitised in 2016/2017 with funds from the State Digitization Program for Science and Culture of the Free State of Saxony.
Kurt Heine (19061986)
Between 2017 and 2019, the LDP also provided funds to digitize the photographs from the extensive estate of the photographer Kurt Heine, whose archive is located in the Sorbian Institute and, for the most part, in the Deutsche Fotothek.