Pioneering writer and journalist Annemarie Schwarzenbach (23 May 1908 15 November 1942) took many photographs in her lifetime, 3,000 of which have been made available by the Swiss Literary Archives. Schwarzenbach travelled extensively throughout Spain, the southern United States, northern Europe, Africa and three times to Asia. She made her most famous trip in 1939 with writer and traveler Ella Maillart. At the wheel of a Ford, they both traveled to Persia, Afghanistan and India via the Balkans.
Before that Schwarzenbach took a trip to Austria, photographing what she saw on March 1st 1938 – on 12 March, German troops entered Austria. An ardent anti-Nazi, Schwarzenbach helped Klaus Mann (Thomas Mann’s son – she also dated the Nobel laureate’s daughter Klaus’s sister Erika Mann) finance an anti-Fascist literary review, Die Sammlung. Politics fractured her family. Her father and mother – he was wealthy textile magnet; she the daughter of General Wille, later head of the Swiss army – sympathised with the Nazi regime.
These images were part of Schwarzenbach’s mission to document the rise of fascism in Europe.
War in other countries? Just twelve hours, twelve weeks from our borders? God forbid – the horror that sometimes seizes us, you feel it too when reading history books, time or space, it doesn’t matter what lies between us and it.
But the journey ever so slightly lifts the veil over the mystery of space…
― Annemarie Schwarzenbach, All the Roads Are Open: The Afghan Journey
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