On 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and one year later Germany was reunited. For many, it was a celebration, the achievement of freedom and the realization of something long dreamed of. For others, it was the beginning of a time marked by violence and fear. As is often the case, history has at least two sides.

Martina Zaninelli & Thomas Jacobs, Brotherland, courtesy the artist

Eberswalde, 24 November 1990. A former contract worker, Amadeu Antonio Kiowa, is attacked by neo-Nazis and dies on 6 December. He was one of the frst victims of racist violence in the newly reunifed Germany. Amadeu Antonio had come to the GDR as a contract worker from Angola in 1987.

To remedy the shortage of labor, the GDR made bilateral agreements with other states for the training and employment of workers from the early 1960s onwards. These socialist countries of origin were defned as ‘brother’ countries. The frst contract workers came from Poland and Hungary, then later also from Algeria, Angola, Cuba, Mozambique, and Vietnam.


Martina Zaninelli & Thomas Jacobs, Brotherland, courtesy the artist

The ‘foreigners out’ violence after the fall of communism did not begin in 1992 with the pogrom in Rostock-Lichtenhagen nor the arson attacks in Mölln and Solingen in 1993. As early as 1991, a hostel for contract workers and a shelter for refugees in Hoyerswerda were attacked for days. At times, up to 500 onlookers stood in front of the homes, and it was from this crowd that the attacks took place. In Rostock-Lichtenhagen, the home of former Vietnamese contract workers and the Central Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers were attacked. Stones and Molotov cocktails few at the buildings and the people inside. Several hundred neo-Nazis and up to 3,000 applauding spectators took part in the pogrom.

Hoyerswerda and Rostock, like all right-wing extremist attacks of the 1990s, were expressions of racist and nationalist attitudes that later led to the murderous terror of the socalled NSU.

In the daily news coverage and also in the historiography, the people against whom this violence was directed were - and still are - seldom heard. Much more emphasis was placed on the questions of why (German) youths gave the Hitler salute or why racism in the new federal states was possibly "understandable".

We interviewed and portrayed former contract workers from Angola, Mozambique and Vietnam in different federal states. We also decided to interview Germans who lived in Hoyerswerda, Eberswalde and Rostock in the 1990s in order to learn more about the realities of life during and after the Wende.

BROTHERLAND aims to make clear the mood in which the attacks took place and were legitimised by a broad mass.

The complexity of those years and their legacy can be presented and made comprehensible through a contextualisation of photos, archive material, portraits, interviews and texts.

Martina Zaninelli & Thomas Jacobs

Martina Zaninelli & Thomas Jacobs, Brotherland, courtesy the artist

We only compare us, as foreigners, with each other. The Polish colleagues, who didn't speak German either, got over 1,000 marks, but we only got 400 marks. That's why we said no. That's the same as modern slavery. The others used to come with chains around their necks and we came here from Africa without chains, but still, there is no difference. That was slavery in the past and now it is a modern one.


Augusto Jone Munjunga