According to Germany’s minister for culture and media, Bernd Neumann, the project’s focus is the people behind the statistics. Research into individuals’ stories will give the victims names and faces, thereby restoring their dignity.
"Their biographies will remind us of people of Germany were affected by the brutal SED dictatorship and the inhumane border regime," said Neumann at a presentation on the project at the Berlin Wall Memorial.
The research should be finalized by 2015, producing a book of short biographies of the victims. It is based on the research into the victims of the Berlin Wall, which has largely been completed. The Berlin Wall Memorial includes the “Window of Remembrance” with names and photos of the dead, located in the middle of the former border zone.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Kindergarten, school — these are places, that most people associate with their childhood. But you also photographed the Palace of the Republic, the GDR’s parliament building. How does that fit in?
Schönfeld: Many cultural events used to take place there. I was always there for children’s concerts. At the time, I thought it was chic. With all the lamps and the carpets, it was something special. That’s not the only reason why I feature the building in my series though. I wanted to establish a link between the personal and the “official” histories.