Moscow 1956 by Peter Bock-Schroeder (1913 - 2001)

Blog No. 1 | May 31st 2016

Back in the USSR

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 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. Several times the German and the Russian film crews had threatened to cancel the production. After months of hard fought negotiations the German production company and the Moscow Central Documentary Film Studio agreed on the version of the respective authorities and their censorship institutions, although sometimes grudgingly given.

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. All photographs, text and editing had to be "tuned" with the Soviets. Section three of the contract provided: "theme of the film is the objective reporting of the USSR, the work of the Soviet people, their everyday lives, their art, recreation and other aspects of social and cultural life." Most of the discussion focused on the core word "objective."