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Shipyards and Labor Dispute in the 1990s Photo presentation

03.10. – 31.10.2023

Werftarbeiter der Elbewerft demonstrieren gegen eine drohende Schließung.
Boizenburg 20.Februar 1991,  Kurt W. Hamann
Protest at Elbewerft. Boizenburg, February 20th 1991, Kurt W. Hamann

The history of German unification is characterized by upheavals and conflicts. Regional, national and international developments in the economy and politics also affected ports as places to work and live. This is particularly evident in the case of shipyards and shipbuilding.

Like many industrial companies in the former GDR, shipyards were also affected by closures and layoffs. But the 1990s also saw bankruptcies in the old federal states due to global developments in shipbuilding and bad economic decisions.

Hamburg-based photographer Kurt W. Hamann documented labor struggles at shipyards in East and West Germany in the 1990s. His photos show men, women and children protesting against plant closures and job cuts. More than 30 years later, the photos are an impressive testimony to the changes in shipbuilding on the Elbe and Weser rivers and the shared German-German history.

Protest against job reductions at Schichau/Seebeckwerft. Bremerhaven, March 17th. 1993. Foto: Kurt W. Hansen