This is the story about the last night we spend abroad before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was already getting dark when we decided to leave the main road to search for a place to eat and spend the night. We ended up in Merseburg near Halle and Leipzig in the state of Sachsen-Anhalt in the eastern part of Germany. That morning we switched a foggy and white Czech Republic to a green and alternately sunny and cloudy Germany, but that changed during the day. 

Courtyard of Merseburg Castle, 1924. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Courtyard of Merseburg Castle, 4th of January 2020. Photo: Casper Molenaar. 

In Merseburg it was raining a lot that afternoon and early evening. We just parked the van on the main square next to the ice-skating rink, which was about to close. I had to get out of the van to open the gas tank in full rain. We made pasta, ate, packed the dishes instead of doing them. We would come home the day after anyway. After an hour the rain stopped and we went out to check where we were. A sign showed that it was strictly forbidden to park here on the square so we googled a nearby camperplace. On arrival I opened the Kurt Hielscher photobook to look for "Merseburg", and surprisingly, there was a photo: Schloßhof Merseburg. It looked pretty cool, so this was a chance I could not let pass. We decided to check it out during our evening stroll. 

It felt spooky because of the dark and the sound of the blowing wind around a dancing Christmastree during our evening stroll in Merseburg. Above all we were alone and the kids got scared. 

The Schloßhof was deserted. There was a big Christmastree that swung from left to right by the strong wind its lights flickering on and off randomly it seemed. Altogether a spooky atmosphere and the kids felt it and got scared. Before we found the square from where Kurt Hielscher made his photo, we returned back to the van, but I knew I had seen enough. We had to go back the next morning. And so we did.

So the next morning we went back again.

Unfortunately, Kurt Hielscher made his photo from a window on the first floor. The building had several entrances but only the museum was open. The museum entrance could not bring us to the right window, so I had to do it with a shot from the courtyard. I simply could not get there. Wolfgang Henkel, my friend from Germany, who published a photobook about Kurt Hielscher's work in Germany in 2019, told me the day after, when we met in Kassel that he made his best photo here from out of that window. Check his website to check his work and his comarison from the photo in Merseburg. In his impressive photoalbum, which is in my possession, he used a colourphoto. Check the story of my encounter with Wolfgang Henkel the day after here.

The making of.

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher