Josef Schulz's Photos of Disused Border Posts: Reminder of Europe's Past – and a Warning About Its Future

  • 2016-04-15
  • International Business Times

Josef Schulz, a Polish-born photographer based in Germany, travelled around Europe to document disused border posts and checkpoints. These buildings ceased to have a purpose around 30 years ago with the formation of the Schengen Zone, allowing passport-free travel throughout much of Europe.

Named Übergang, after the German word for crossing, it's a timely project – as of 16 February 2016, seven countries in the Schengen Zone, including Germany, have reinstated border controls in an effort to slow the flow of migrants and refugees.

Schulz says: In the past, national borders were divisive by character. In some cases their purpose was to delineate between political, legal, fiscal and monetary systems, in others between linguistic and cultural differences. Borders were lines, drawn not only across territories but also through our heads. In present-day Europe, internal borders are losing their political and economical function of demarcation. But border posts are much easier to abolish than mental barriers."

He has digitally manipulated the images, so that the backgrounds seem shrouded in fog, allowing these redundant border posts to stand out. He explains: "The border posts resemble abandoned sentinels or faded monuments of past partition. They will remind us of what has yet to be achieved, recalling that they could one day easily be returned to their previous function." Each building is shaped by the architectural trends of each nation and period.