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The political conditions in the GDR, where he lived until his death, have changed and with them his pictorial style. The new portraits are taken in open eye contact with the people photographed. They are serious, thoughtful images of workers, in which the horror of war and imprisonment is still recognisable in traces on the faces and in the posture, which are additionally marked by the strain of the work. Without protection and proper work clothes, in personal jackets and caps, partly sewn together from worn-out remnants of uniforms, these people give the rest of their strength to the construction of a new production site, in which they also find themselves. The arduous process of getting back on one's feet after oppression and war now becomes the subject of photography. Walter Ballhause also shapes social developments into images here.

(Boström, Jörg: Schatten im Licht. Walter Ballhause. Ein politischer Beobachter und Gestalter, in: Hesse, Wolfgang (Ed.): Die Eroberung der beobachtenden Maschinen. Zur Arbeiterfotografie der Weimarer Republik, Leipzig 2012, pp. 303–324)

Most of them were created in the foundry environment of PLAMAG during the build-up phase of heavy industry in the GDR. Ballhause was head of the foundry at the time. In those years, his senses revolved around faultless casting... Where there is good work, there is also no lack of social recognition. A number of Plauen foundry workers were therefore honoured with the title "activist". The manager Walter Ballhause took a portrait of each of these honoured workers at the workplace and gave them the photo as a memento of that day.

(Tanneberger, Klaus, Freie Presse 1986)


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