by Peter Bock-Schroeder (1913 - 2001)
In 1956, one year after the peace treaty between Russia and Germany, Peter Bock-Schroeder was the first West-German photographer to get permission to work in the USSR. The Assignment came from a West German Film Production. The task was to travel with a international film crew on the production of the documentary: Russia today, We saw with our eyes.
The Soviets, who came up for all the expenses of the four western camera groups in the USSR, were granted an extensive veto, control and participation rights. The film was approved by the Soviet authorities. It was made under the same conditions in which all Western journalists in the Soviet Union worked at the time. In almost a year's production, they created the documentary under unimaginable difficulties.
In spite of the close supervision by a suspicious minder that follow him everywhere, Peter Bock-Schroeder managed to avoid censorship most of the time. The silent click of his Rolleiflex twin lens camera helped him to work almost unnoticed from the authorities.
Bock-Schroeder had travelled the world for almost a decade prior to the Russia job and was used to difficult work circumstances.
The night before returning to West-Berlin, Bock-Schroeder sewed most of the exposed rolls of film into his trench coat and brought his work out of Russia into the west.
Agfacolor was the name of a series of color film products made by Agfa of Germany. The first Agfacolor, introduced in 1932, was a film-based version of their Agfa-Farbenplatte (Agfa color plate), a "screen plate" product similar to the French Autochrome. In late 1936 Agfa introduced Agfacolor Neu (New Agfacolor), a pioneering color film of the general type still in use today. The new Agfacolor was originally a reversal film used for making "slides", home movies and short documentaries. By 1939 it had also been adapted into a negative film and a print film for use by the German motion picture industry. After WWII, the Agfacolor brand was applied to several varieties of color negative film for still photography, in which the negatives were used to make color prints on paper. The reversal film was then marketed as Agfachrome.
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia/Abkhazia and Russia. The Greater Sochi area, which includes territories and localities subordinated to Sochi proper, has a total area of 3,526 square kilometers (1,361 sq mi) and sprawls for 145 kilometers (90 mi) along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains. According to the 2010 Census, the city had a permanent population of 343,334, up from 328,809 recorded in the 2002 Census, making it Russia's largest resort city. Being part of the Caucasian Riviera, it is one of the very few places in Russia with a subtropical climate, with warm to hot summers and mild winters.
Sotchi hosted the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games in 2014, as well as the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix from 2014 until at least 2020, subject to the circuit being ready in time. It will also be one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
For decades the colossus in the east had been the great unknown in the international game. The proverbial Iron Curtain separated the huge empire between the Baltic and Pacific from the rest of the world. Only scanty news and rumors trickled through. After Stalin's death in 1953 the total force was loosened. Western reporters and photographers began to report and photograph to gather a new mosaic-like picture of Russia.
Bock-Schroeder felt privileged and honored to photograph this beautiful country and their people. And there was a longing to find his own roots. His father who he had never met was Russian, and although he didn't speak the language and it was his first time in the country he felt a strong affinity for Russia.
Bock-Schroeder's Photographs show the differences and similarities between lifestyles in the east and the west of the late 1950's. His work describes the Russian daily life in all its austerity and authenticity.