lost in the german fields
Two and a half hours north of Berlin, there is a small town called Demmin with a population of around 12,000 people. The first time I visited there was a Saturday. After stepping off the train it seemed like a typical little town, and even reminded me a bit of home: there was someone picking blackberries, teenagers drinking in the park, a band playing music in the forest, there was a local ice cream shop but it was closed.
On May 1st, 1945 in the space of one day, approximately 1,000 people committed suicide in Demmin. The suicides occurred during a mass panic that was provoked by two main causes, propaganda spread by The Wehrmacht which claimed "it's better to kill yourself than to live in defeat", and by atrocities the soldiers of the Soviet Red Army committed, who had sacked the town the day before. Although death toll estimates vary, it is acknowledged to be the largest mass suicide ever recorded in Germany, and was part of a mass suicide wave amongst the German population at the time.
These photographs are a quiet look at Demmin nearly 80 years later.