Only a few of the countless circulating images make the leap into the collective picture memory.
„The Leap into Freedom“, shows NVA soldier Hans Conrad Schumann, jumping the Berlin barbed wire fence from east to west on the 15th of August, 1961, throwing away his machine-gun. This flight made him the first defector from East Germany and a symbol of the Cold War and made Associated Press photographer Peter Leibing, who has made that legendary shot, famous overnight. The photo is important enough for the history of Berlin and the Berlin Wall, that it was painted as a stunning mural at Bernauer Straße, where Schumann once fled. The photo became an image of the collective picture memory. My Berlin friend has found some new paste-ups at Dircksenstraße and Rosenthaler Straße 39 with a slightly modified version of that picture. Next to the pieces #ARTLOVERSINC was pasted. Following that hashtag you’ll find out that behind ARTLOVERSINC is a number of street artists from Europe based in Paris who started their work to spread love and art around the world with iconic street collages. They have adopted the photo to support the yellow vest movement in France. Their statement speaks for itself: „The story of this soldier is a story of individual freedom and civil disobedience. Conrad Schumann, hired to watch the barbwires that were put up in order to raise the Berlin’s wall, started to seriously question the idea. The 15th of August, 1961, encouraged by people on the other side of the barbwires, he jumped other them in a gesture of ultimate individual freedom. The Gilets Jaunes movement is nothing else but a collective desire of individual freedom.“