The Lichtenberg district, a former industrial district in East Berlin, is 70% populated by Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in what was then East Germany (DDR) in the 1970s and 80s as part of a twinning and labor exchange project between socialist countries. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the "vertragsarbeiter" - or contract workers - were offered the possibility of returning to their home country with compensation from the DDR. However, most of them, with many difficulties, chose to remain in reunified Germany thus giving life to the Vietnamese community of Berlin.
Today, it finds its major center of activity at the Dong Xuan Center in Lichtenberg.The celebration of the anniversary of the end of the war in Vietnam and the 40 years of the community in Berlin are the two events that allowed me to start working on this project. The community proudly preserves its traditions and thanks to its strength of resilience it has not lost its particular identity over the years - but rather has found new life in the socialization activities carried out inside - continuing to pass it on to children and younger members .
My project "From the DDR to Vietnam", still ongoing, is aimed at documenting the growth and activities of a microcosm which, following a crucial historical moment such as the collapse of Socialism, managed to find its own space in Berlin social through the preservation of the culture of origin and work.