“Over the many years that the Wall existed, I got out of the habit of even looking at it, because if you stood still there or even wanted to or needed to, you were suspected of plotting some kind of criminal thing.”
Gerhard Lahr was born in Reichenbach in 1938 and died in Berlin in 2012. He was a well-known children’s book illustrator in the GDR. His Wall painting “BERLYN” portrays the Berlin Wall in the first phase of reinforcement with a Y-shaped barbed-wire element.
Gerhard Lahr in the interview
Lahr’s Wall painting addresses the division of Berlin. It shows the first phase of border reinforcement with barbed wire security fencing on the Wall. In his painting, Lahr places “Berlyn” in a row with Tokyo and New York. After the border was opened, Lahr received a letter from a friend in Leningrad, expressing his delight at the fall of the Wall. Lahr attached this letter to his Wall painting. During the Gallery’s restoration he replaced the letter with a drawing.
Lahr attended the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig and became a well-known children’s book illustrator. He moved to Berlin in 1962 and took on only non-political commissions. After the fall of the Wall, like many other East Germans, he lost his job. When a major commission unexpectedly fell through in 2010, he gave up illustration for good.