Conducted by Anthony Friedkin
On April 26, 1986, the
nuclear power plant at Chernobyl in Ukraine became the sight of the worst
nuclear accident in history.
waited 36 hours after the explosion to begin the evacuation of 336,000 people.
135,000 were permanently relocated. Nuclear radiation was released into the
environment and blew across Europe. Hundreds of first responders died of Acute
Radiation Sickness. Following the disaster, workers known as "liquidators"
commenced cleanup activities under extremely hazardous conditions. It is
estimated that 800,000 people were thus employed, with untold affects on the
liquidators and their families for generations to come. It is impossible to
estimate the number of people who have been affected by the disaster
accurately. Attempting to minimize the magnitude of the disaster, the former Soviet
Union did not release accurate statistics.
A direct link between the toxic plume,
air, ground, water and food contamination and years later, the affect on the
population is difficult to establish. Thousands have been affected with thyroid
cancer, genetic abnormalities and other known affects of radiation.
the disaster, the contaminated areas were isolated and sealed off into the
"zone of alienation," carefully controlled areas where there remain dangerous
levels of radiation. These abandoned ghost towns, complete with personal
belongings, are now overcome by nature. They have seen the return of many
native species that survived the fallout and now flourish in an area free of
Gerd Ludwig is a photojournalist with an extensive body of work documenting
social changes in Germany and Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet
Union and 20 years working for National Geographic magazine. His work includes
this long-term project on the aftermath of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
disaster. He is gearing up for another trip to the zone of alienation to
coincide with the 25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
usually begin my interviews by asking my subjects how they got started in
photography. When did you start photographing? How old were you? I know you
were not a native to America: what country are you from? What was your first
GL: I'm a small town boy. I
was born near Frankfurt, Germany and I went to high school in that town.
Subsequently, I studied political science, German literature and physical
education. After three terms I quit. The people I studied physical education
with were not intellectual enough and in political science and German
literature they were only intellectual.
Together with a friend I traveled for one year, doing odd jobs, as a
dishwasher, a gardener, bricklayer, and even a sailor. I went to Scandinavia
first, then on a Norwegian boat to the US. While traveling, I was looking for
new subjects to study: possibly sociology, psychology and all the hip subjects
of the late 60's and early 70's.
During my travels I wanted to convey something from my experiences, to
take back impressions from the countries I visited. I didn't have enough money
to buy souvenirs, so I bought a camera. I took snapshots to preserve memories
of those travel days.
As I wanted to improve my images, I started to buy photo magazines.
That was when I realized photography could be a very educational tool,
conveying a personal point of view. Because I had a great deal of fun taking
pictures, I decided to study photography.
you work originally with black and white film? Or were you shooting color?
GL: Yes, it was black and
white film. My first camera was a real amateur camera, a Voightlander.
Unfortunately, I don't have it anymore. I had my photos processed in the local
photo shops. I returned to Germany and, after an internship at a portrait
studio, I was lucky enough to get accepted into what was then the best school
for photography in Germany, if not for all of Europe, with professor Otto Steinert at the Folkwang
University of the Arts in Essen, Germany. The University taught visual arts,
music and theatre arts and ballet, all under one roof.
It was a very exciting place to study!
Suffering from thyroid cancer, Oleg S., 54, and Dima B., 13, receive care at a thyroid hospital in Belarus, where surgery is performed on a daily basis. As a liquidator, Oleg was exposed to extreme levels of radiation when razing contaminated houses near the destroyed reactor. This was his third thyroid operation. Dima's mother claims that Chernobyl's nuclear fallout is responsible for his cancer, but his doctors are more cautious: Belarusian officials are ordered to downplay the severity of the nuclear after-effects as the country is eager to start re-cultivating huge areas of contaminated fallow land. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
want to focus on the Chernobyl project that you have dedicated yourself to with
such passion. I know your career is extensive, but because of the nature of the
Chernobyl project and what you are hoping to accomplish there in the near
future, I would like to focus on that.
me briefly, if you can, what was the origin of the Chernobyl project? We know
that the horrific accident happened in April of 1986, correct? Explain in your
own words the beginning of the project, so our audience has a sense of where
all of this started.
GL: Four weeks after the
event, I learned about the catastrophe while on assignment in a small town in
Newfoundland, Canada with no television in the hotel room. I immediately called
my friends and family in Germany. At that point some of my male friends had
already evacuated their children and pregnant wives to Holland. Only then did I
really begin to understand that all
of Europe felt threatened from the accident. That's when the magnitude of the
accident really hit me.
Twenty-five years later, the empty schoolrooms of Pripyat stand as a testament to the sudden and tragic departure of the city's residents. As nature takes over the abandoned buildings and homes inside the Exclusion Zone, it is a stark contrast to the fear-plagued lives of the people who survived the world's worst nuclear accident. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
When Soviet authorities finally order the evacuation of the nearly 150 villages within a 19-mile radius of the power plant to evacuate, the hasty departure often meant leaving behind the most personal belongings. The Soviet Union only admitted to the world that the accident had occurred 3-days after the explosion, when scientists in Sweden noticed radiation on their shoes before entering a nuclear facility. The explosion unleashed radiation around the globe, more than tripling the world's background radiation level. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
I first went to the Chernobyl zone on assignment for National
Geographic magazine several years later.
year was it?
GL: First in 1993, for an
extended period of time, I visited the thirty-kilometer zone, which is a
fenced-in area with controlled access in and out.
that a radius of 30 kilometers? Like a very big circle? That would be a large
area of land.
GL: Yes. It's a huge area.
Thousands of square miles were contaminated by the accident, but the government
officials drew a 30-kilometer radius and closed the area off. Today we know
that it was really an arbitrary radius and that there are areas outside of that
zone that are more contaminated than some inside the zone.
that because of the radioactive cloud after the incident?
GL: It was related to the
rainfall. Research showed that rain washed the radiation out of the air and
contaminated the ground.
Do you recall what your very first impressions were? Do you have any memorable,
GL: It was incredibly controlled.
The Ukrainian government watched every move I made (this was after the fall of
Russian dominance), and militia accompanied me everywhere I went. While the
militia followed their orders on one hand, they accommodated my efforts to
receive permission from authorities - who were
simply trying to keep us out and far away. At that time, I was not yet allowed
to get near the reactor, let alone inside of it. There is a second fence around
the reactor because the radiation there is very high near the so-called
At some point, I realized that the radiation in the zone was moving. Where
the militia had told us, "This is a very safe area, not very highly
contaminated," my dosimeter told me something else. Contamination travels as a
result of strong winds moving surface soil.
you actually carried a dosimeter with you??
GL: Oh, sure. I carried a dosimeter
and protective gear, as well. I was wearing my own protective suits then. But
the authorities asked us (my assistants and interpreters and me) not to wear
our protective gear and not to carry Geiger counters and dosimeters because at
that point in time, the population didn't have any of these things. They said,
"You scare our people by wearing all this protective gear."
As a photographer you walk this fine line; you need their cooperation
for access, but you don't want to endanger yourself.
did you communicate with them? Do you speak Russian at all?
GL: I understand a bit of
Russian. My assistant acts as my interpreter most of the time. I always had
somebody with me. I have worked with him for more than 20 years now and we have
become close friends.
When shooting in the Former Soviet Union, I have two people assisting
me. One person is a "fixer" and researcher, who makes appointments for me so
that I don't get bogged down with making phone calls myself, sitting by the
phone with an interpreter. In the morning my fixer may take examples of my work,
like past publications of National Geographic magazine and samples from other
assignments I've worked on. The images act as my business card, my entry card,
for my subjects or the officials. Then an appointment would be set up for the
following day and I would arrive with my interpreter.
were there in 1993. So I'm curious: were you shooting film then?
there any concern about the radioactivity affecting your film?
GL: No. In 1993 I wasn't allowed
to go that deep into the reactor and the camera does shield the film. Nobody
would be allowed to be that long and close inside the highly contaminated areas
anyway. It would be fatal.
were you shooting color transparency? Did you also use any black and white film?
GL: No. I was shooting
color transparency exclusively. When I shot for National Geographic I did not
shoot high-speed film because it isn't up to the quality standards of
reproduction National Geographic maintains on their pages.
went back in 2005 for an extended period of time and I was granted access deep
inside of the reactor, very close to where the explosion occurred. There, the
workers, despite wearing many layers of protective gear and gas masks, were
only allowed to enter for one shift of 15 minutes a day.
Today, several hundred elderly residents have returned to their village homes, preferring to die on their own contaminated soil, rather than from a broken heart in anonymous city suburbs. Now tolerated, the authorities initially considered the returnees as illegal residents, and chased them from their homes. Generally without means of transportation, none of the few hundred returnees have easy access to medical help. To ensure basic health care, teams of doctors from the Chernobyl hospital make their rounds to the few inhabited villages each month. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
This is only the second time since being forced to evacuate in 1986 that Ludmila S., 55, is able to visit her former hometown of Pripyat. She mourns at the grave of her parents and begs for their forgiveness for her long involuntary absence. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
is the shelf life of this horrific accident?
GL: There are different
stages of contamination; the core is contaminated for untold years to come.
that human beings are extremely vulnerable if they get near these contaminated
you explain what radiation actually does to the human body to destroy it?
GL: Radiation that was
released in the Chernobyl zone was not from only one isotope; there were
different types of radiation. Scientists still argue over the damage that
radiation can do, but there is no dispute about the affects on the thyroid gland.
There has been a huge rise in thyroid cancer.
I met people who were there at the time of the reactor accident. One of
them had burns all over his body. A tragic situation: Working as a security
guard in the reactor, in the chaotic hours following the explosion, he found a
colleague who had fainted, lying in the contaminated water. He carried him out on
his back. Soon skin burns formed where the contaminated water from his friend's
body had seeped through his clothing and, as a result of walking through the
contaminated water, he had one leg amputated. All his efforts were in vain. His
friend did not make it. There were so many tragedies.
did you first encounter the victims directly from the accident?
GL: It was in 1993, and
again in 2005.
did it really hit you, the human suffering from this horrible event?
GL: You see it when you're
inside the zone. A total of 336,000 people had been relocated to different
areas after the accident.
Shortly thereafter, even within the first year, a few of the elderly
citizens started to return to the contaminated zone illegally. Between 400 and 700
people returned to the zone, living isolated in a few small villages, with total
devastation surrounding them.
did they choose to go back? It seems like suicide to expose themselves to the
contamination. Were they clearly aware of the risks involved?
GL: Yes, they understood
the risks involved. It was mostly the elderly who wanted to live out their
lives on their own soil, rather than dying of a broken heart, in anonymous city
suburbs. They even started to grow vegetables in their contaminated earth. They
said, "That's were we were born, that's were we want to die."
photographed these people?
GL: Yes. These are often
the Ukrainian government compensate them in any way?
GL: I don't know. In the
beginning the government called them illegal residents, even started to hunt
them down. But later they began to tolerate the practice of their returning. There
are no private cars in the zone and no public transportation. But the returnees
demanded some type of infrastructure; they asked for doctors and for
necessities such as soap, for example.
did they exist? How did they get
GL: They wanted delivery of
food items they could not grow, or household tools. The administration helped
them reluctantly, because it put such service and delivery people at risk. Now
a few clever business people drive - with permission from the authorities
- to where the returnees live in scattered, contaminated villages, and sell
them goods they need for their survival in isolation.
have a personal question for you. Emotionally, the risk that you take in subjecting
yourself to this story (which is almost out of a science fiction novel really,
although it isn't) the despair and the result, and even the visual of it,
understanding the suffering that has occurred because of it, the true human
horror of it all . . . How do you preserve your own sense of tranquility? How
do you, as a photojournalist throughout your whole career, protect yourself,
your soul and your being from these issues, while maintaining your own sense of
faith in humanity and the future?
GL: As a photojournalist or
a documentary photographer going into any situation, I must never use my camera
as a shield. I must not shelter myself from my emotions.
It is important that as a photographer I feel first. But the camera acts as an outlet for my emotions, as I
can transform them into photographs and store them away. Specifically, in
situations where I witness suffering or pain, it helps me through it because I
have a creative outlet. But again, if I do not allow myself to feel first, I
will not be able to transmit the feelings into a photograph.
At 1:23 am on April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant operators committed a fatal series of errors here in the control room of Reactor #4, triggering a meltdown and an explosion that resulted in the world's largest nuclear accident to date. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
Workers wearing plastic suits and respirators for protection pause briefly on their way to drill holes for support rods inside the shaky concrete sarcophagus, a structure hastily built after the explosion to isolate the radioactive rubble of Reactor #4. Their job is to keep the deteriorating enclosure standing until a planned replacement can be built. It is hazardous work: radiation inside is so high that they constantly need to monitor their Geiger counters - and are allowed to work only one shift of 15 minutes per day. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
you're making a statement, hopefully to expose the frightening dangers of
nuclear accidents so that we can create a safer future for mankind.
GL: It is important to
recognize that the people who have suffered so much in the zone know that my
pictures are not going to change anything for them anymore. They are my real
heroes, simply because they allow me to photograph them - with their broken
hearts, in their meager homes, solely in the hope that tragedies like Chernobyl
may be prevented in the future. They are the voiceless victims and they see me,
and us as photographers, as a hope to share their suffering and make it known.
do you deal with knowing your objective and the politics that prevent you from
achieving that objective? For example, when you're not allowed into an area
that you know has great potential to tell this story and make significant,
memorable photographs. How do you cope with the system telling you, "No, we are
not going to let you in; we're not going to give you access to that." When the
authorities don't want the world to know the true story, how do you deal with that
GL: There is no single
solution or rule to deal with that. Sometimes it is persistence. Sometimes the
backing of a magazine like National Geographic helps. Sometimes it's a cat-and-mouse
game, where you feel authorities are telling you fu*k you and so your reaction
is to fu*k them.
I mean, at times they are bluntly lying to your face. Then you may do things
which you actually should not do, and overstep the limits.
there are other examples. I was shooting outside of the zone, in the south of
Belarus, an area that was strongly contaminated by the fallout. I had decided
to photograph in a kindergarten that received help through Chernobyl funding. I
showed up in the morning and was greeted by some officials that were
questioning me about what I was doing there. I was honest and I said, "Look, I
am photographing here because I think some of the kids have deformities
connected with the Chernobyl accident."
And they said, "You won't find anything here."
My reply was this: "If you tell me, officially now, that this
kindergarten does not have any children that could be victims of the Chernobyl
accident, I will go back to our audience at National Geographic and report that
your kindergarten doesn't need any more help from Chernobyl funding sources."
That was clever of you.
GL: And you should have
seen how fast they changed their minds!
you did it in a peaceful, non-threatening way, without getting aggressive
GL: Aggressive and
threatening never works. No, that's not a good way.
you think there's a moral code or compass for a photojournalist, not to
approach subjects with your own agenda, or do you feel you should embrace your
it's difficult to see anything positive about the Chernobyl accident. But do you feel you have an obligation
to be neutral as a photojournalist? Or do you go in with your heart and slam
your point of view through the choice of images you make?
GL: Oh my God! I don't walk
around with an anti-nuclear power button on! I think I would describe myself as
a "nuclear skeptic." But I let people make their own judgment when they look at
my pictures. I let the situation speak for itself.
I think as photographers, we sometimes run the risk of putting
ourselves too much into the center of attention by making pictures that scream,
"Look what a great photographer I am!" For me the better picture is the one
where people say, "Oh look at that! Isn't that painful," or, "Isn't that
We often go into situations with a pre-fabricated opinion about
something. Then, we actually stop learning. We should go in curious and come
out wiser. And so should the viewer.
Let me add this: one thing I believe is that a great photograph
broadens the mind and touches the soul. An image should convey how we felt at
the moment we pressed the shutter.
you have any heroes when you were younger? Were there any specific
photographers whose work you felt compassionate about?
yes! I was impressed by the image from the Vietnam War by Eddie Adams of the
Saigon General executing the VC soldier. I was also moved by the work in
Vietnam by both Phillip Jones Griffiths and Nick Ut,
who photographed the young, naked girl fleeing napalm and running towards
was a very controversial photograph. It had a huge influence on the American public's
opinion of the Vietnam War. It helped bring an end to the conflict.
GL: I also liked the work of Ernst Haas, for
example, which is very different from those photographers. Today, I enjoy
looking at the intersection of Fine Art and Documentary Photography. I gain
inspiration from a variety of people, my friends Lauren Greenfield and Douglas
Kirkland, who are two very different photographers; my
colleagues at National Geographic and at INSTITUTE and my students in
workshops. I often enjoy looking at the way amateurs use photography.
When asked for my favorite photographers I once came up with a list of
52 names, my mother and my son amongst them - and they are total
do you think the moral of the Chernobyl accident is?
GL: That as human beings we
should not attempt to deal with technologies that are so horrific that they can
cause these huge tragedies.
Wind blows through the desolate town of Pripyat. On April 26, 1986, this amusement park was being readied for the annual May Day celebrations when the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded less than two miles away and severely contaminated tens of thousands of square miles. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
The nearby city of Pripyat once, once inhabited by 50,000 residents and brimming with life, now stands as a chilling ghost town. Built in 1970 for the scientists and the workers of the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, authorities did not warn residents of the accident, and issued the evacuation notice only 2 days after the explosion. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
your opinion, do you think world leaders have learned the lesson?
GL: No, not much. In Chernobyl, Soviet officials told us
that they were in total control, but they were not. Executives told us the same
thing about the Gulf oil spill (the BP oil spill disaster in 2010). Nuclear
power stations need a great deal of upkeep. If this is neglected, it can be
you afraid of this assignment, personally? Afraid of the potential radiation
you would be exposing yourself to?
GL: I was afraid, but my
colleagues in war zones are afraid at times, as well. As photographers we do
this, as I said before, to give a voice to otherwise voiceless victims. Plus,
in comparison to the people who live on contaminated ground permanently, my risk
is relatively small.
you said earlier that the authorities had requested that you remove your
protective gear so as to not alarm the local people, what did you do? Did you
remove it or keep it on?
GL: I have to admit there
were situations were I did remove it to get access.
you were going to expose yourself to harmful radiation?
GL: Potential radiation. You never know because you don't see the
radiation, you don't smell it and you don't feel it.
you going to glow if I turn the lights off?
GL: Well the nice thing is
I don't need a strobe anymore. I use myself as a light source. (Laughs)
there anyway of knowing how much radiation you have absorbed? Can they check
GL: No, not in any direct
way, unless you have radioactive particles actually in your body.
were you able to shoot with a gas mask on? Did the protective gear inhibit your
ability to shoot?
GL: I did not use a gas
mask because you can't shoot with a gas mask. The workers would drill into the
contaminated concrete, which created this contaminated dust. That was probably
the most dangerous situation for me.
The reason they drill near the failed reactor is because the roof and
the walls (which were built by robots after the accident) are in danger of
collapsing. If that happens, we have the same catastrophe all over again, of
the same magnitude. There is a plan to build a safe confinement, which will be
positioned over the current encasement, and the current one will be dismantled,
as it is structurally unsound.
is that supposed to occur?
GL: It was supposed to happen
a few years ago. But at a cost of more than two billion dollars, it is not
they any closer to getting it done now?
GL: That is another reason
I want to go back. The donor countries are slow to come up with the pledged
do you feel so strongly that you have stayed with this project? Why do you want
to go back and revisit this and continue to expose yourself to a very dangerous
GL: Chernobyl is not over;
the contamination will be here for hundreds of years. But the traditional print
media doesn't seem to be interested anymore. It happened twenty-five years ago.
It's old news, they say. Yet, only a few people are aware of the possible
dangers of that structure (the sarcophagus) collapsing. And an accident can
happen again, in any nuclear power plant, anywhere in the world.
AF: You were able to go
into the ghost town in 1995. How was that? That must have been surrealistic.
GL: It was very eerie.
a certain way, it would set up some powerful, visual possibilities; the
contaminated earth taking over the town with a haunting sense of "Why?" Were
you shooting on instinct? Did you know where you wanted to go?
GL: It is difficult to
convey the magnitude of the devastation. I am more interested in the personal
stories of the survivors. I want to understand, so I photograph.
Photographer Gerd Ludwig gearing up for a 15-minute entry into the highly contaminated Reactor #4 - the maximum he and the shift workers are allowed to spend in a single day. The Long Shadow of Chernobyl - Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE
the Ukrainian government given you more freedom to work there now, or are they
still pretty strict about what you can do?
GL: Shortly after the
Orange Revolution (2004-5) access opened up. But now, a pro-Russian government
is back in the Ukraine. For my next trip it might be more difficult. They have figured
out that they can make a lot of money from people who want to enter the zone.
Whereas five years ago I paid $60 for a car per day, they now want $600 for a
if you drove your own car in?
GL: You can't. It's a
fenced in area. You have to go through radiation control stations when entering
or exiting. Even your clothing and body are tested for radiation particles when
you leave. You are not allowed to drive in the zone, only official drivers are.
There are no traffic signs and there are no maps.
parallels my vision of World War III. It's like a nuclear holocaust.
GL: It is.
talk about what you are hoping to accomplish now, going back to Chernobyl in
2011. I know you're hoping to raise money to help you to accomplish this trip
and do what you've dedicated yourself to so passionately.
GL: I want to see what the
situation on the ground is like today, what has changed in the last five years?
? Is there progress building the encasement? Did they manage to stabilize the
roof with these huge pillars? And what about the returnees, how are they
faring? Many of them had turned to alcoholism years ago, from living in total
devastation and isolation.
these the same returnees that you discussed and photographed earlier, the people
who had chosen to move back into the contaminated zone?
GL: Yes. I also want to see
the tests that are being done with mice and radioactivity inside the Chernobyl
zone. I want to approach all the subjects that I didn't have the chance to
approach in my earlier stays there.
in the end (if there is an end), what are you hoping to accomplish?
GL: I don't see this as the
end. I want to continue this coverage into the future. I also want to counter the
perception, propagated by a United Nations report that only 4,000 people would
eventually succumb to cancer-related Chernobyl illnesses. When I thoroughly
researched who contributed to that UN study, under the umbrella of so-called
environmental organizations, they are the producers of nuclear power stations. For
the record, serious environmental agencies have put that figure way over one
hundred thousand now.
frightening! It's like letting oil companies police themselves.
GL: It's important, in our
need for energy that we don't allow someone to paint nuclear energy as "green"
energy, especially when you see people who are on the ground crying out that
something like this should never happen
can people help? What can they do to contribute and support your desire to go
back and continue this historic project? What avenues are available to help you
accomplish your goals?
GL: I have set up a
kickstarter.com website. Kickstarter.com funds an incredible number of
projects, including theatre, film, art, book-making, photography and graphic
design. Last year they funded nearly 4,000 projects. Kickstarter.com is a
fundraising tool for my project.
We know that conventional media is suffering financially. Here is a new
tool where the public can support projects they would like to see with their
pocketbook. This is very promising because young, internet-savvy people are
supporting issue-driven, serious projects that have content. While many in the
media are telling us that they have to turn to sensationalism and to celebrity
reporting to keep the readership, on crowd-funding sites the public supports
serious content-driven journalism with their donations.
if I were to make a contribution of $100 for your project through kickstarter.com,
would you receive the full $100?
GL: They take five percent,
which I think is very reasonable. Also, the people who contribute are
recognized for their donations. The rewards differ, depending on the amount contributed
and the nature of the project.
you explored any other ways to raise money for the project? For example,
approaching corporations to underwrite the majority of the costs?
GL: People and
organizations have privately donated from $1 up to $2,500. I offer corporations
an opportunity to have their company logo posted in a number of different
places and on a variety of websites with links to their sites. When the work is
exhibited every contributor will get exposure in the gallery where the
photographs are on display. This will be worldwide, wherever the Chernobyl
photographs are shown in the next four years.
just to be absolutely clear for our readers, they can visit the website
www.kickstarter.com and then what?
GL: They would enter
"Chernobyl" or my name, Gerd Ludwig, or go directly
My project page will then give you a whole history of Chernobyl,
explaining why I am going back and tell visitors what they will receive in
return for atheir contributions. If you make a $100
contribution, you receive a signed copy of my book "Broken Empire: After the fall of the USSR."
AF: Gerd, I'd like to express my deepest respect and admiration
for what you are doing and tell you how personally moved I feel by your commitment
to the Chernobyl project. Your photographs speak volumes about your compassion
for the people affected and the consequences of this catastrophic event in
Your photographs are beautiful to
see and are extraordinarily powerful. I hope our readers will consider making a
contribution to help you accomplish your goals on this meaningful endeavor.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.