Eternal February
02/2023 Bremen, Germany

More than a year has passed since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022, and due to the devastating impact on the Ukrainian population, over a million Ukrainians fled to Germany, with approximately 13,000 of them arriving in Bremen. Because of the travel ban for men with Ukrainian citizenship, the majority of them are women, who came individually or often as mothers accompanied by their children.

These families used to dream of traveling through Europe, trying bratwurst, or seeing the Bremen Town Musicians. For nearly a year now, their dreams have revolved around returning to their homeland, to their own homes, to their friends and neighbors, and hoping that their husbands and fathers are still alive. In their hearts, many of them are still in Ukraine, they haven't quit their old jobs yet, they hesitate to find a proper apartment, and they prefer to stay in a hotel, all in the hope of being able to return to their homeland in the spring. The children are supposed to attend German schools, but they also don't want to lose a year in Ukrainian schools.

Whenever possible, they talk to their fathers on the phone every evening, but most of the time, mothers take on the roles of both mother and father, as well as teacher and friend all at once. At the same time, the mostly traumatized children provide their mothers with just as much support. In the often randomly assigned accommodations, strangers become close-knit families with clearly defined roles and strong cohesion within a matter of weeks.

Parts of the project were published in the "Weser Kurier" newspaper, and the photographs were on display at the @Fotobus Society "IDENTITY, COURAGE, LOVE." exhibition from June 16 to June 25, 2023, in Hannover. 

In cooperation with Tetyana Chernyavska

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© Jasper Hill