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May 23, 2012

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Archives given German's old city photos

A late German photographer's historical photos of Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s were donated by his son to the Shanghai Archives yesterday.

The donor, Wolfgang Wirtky, is 73 years old. He was born in Shanghai, but he has been away from the country for more than 60 years. He returned to the city with his family members and his father's 140-plus black-and-white photos of the old Shanghai.

His father, Walter Wirtky, came to China as an independent photographer in the 1930s and stayed for a decade. He got married in Shanghai and his son was born in the city's Huadong Hospital.

The photographer shot lots of pictures in China, especially in Shanghai. But most of his works were destroyed during the war. The donated photos revive the old Shanghai lifestyle. The pictures recorded the old Shanghai buildings, lanes and street life. The City God Temple, trams on Nanjing Road and people playing mahjong on the street were all his sources of inspiration.

"The photos represent valuable historical information about Shanghai from an unofficial perspective," said Zhu Jinling, deputy curator of the Shanghai Archives.

"It will surely broaden our view about old-time Shanghai," he said at a donation ceremony yesterday.

The son, Wolfgang Wirtky, lived in the city for six years before the family went to Beijing.

He didn't come back to Shanghai again until making this donation. He is accompanied by his wife, son and daughter-in-law.

After the father died, Wolfgang found the photos and decided to send them back to Shanghai as a visual history documentation.

One of the photos portrays a wedding ceremony featuring both Eastern and Western customs. "The bride was wearing a bridal veil while the groom dressed in a Chinese robe," said He Fei, an official of the the Shanghai Archives.

"It's a perfect fusion of Chinese and Western culture," he said.

"2012 is the 40th year after China and Germany established diplomatic relations," said Wolfgang Wirtky, "I believe the photos will not only provide information about old Shanghai but also symbolize the friendly relations between the two countries."


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