Brian Driscoll

Location: New York
Nationality: USA
Biography:         I am a photographer, a native New Yorker, currently based in New York City. My humanistic interest in documenting stories began after exploring and working in Central America. Soon after I enrolled in... MORE
Public Story
Copyright Brian Driscoll 2023
Updated Sep 2011
Topics art, Documentary, exiled, identity, Russia

The " Komi Land " is a series of photographs that reflect the daily lives of forgotten Germans who were exiled to the Komi Republic, Russia during and after WWII. I set out to uncover personal stories in a region situated west of the Ural Mountains in the far north of the Russian European plain. The project documents German communities in Syktyvkar, Ezhva, Maksakovka, Sedkyrkesch, Krasny, Zaton, and the industrial and woodworking areas.

 At the beginning of the War (1941) Russia adopted a new land named Komi, where roughly 1200 German families who had been expelled by dispossession from Ukraine were forced to settle along with a special group of settlers, who had been evacuated from the Karelian, Finnish Republic and the Leningrad Oblast. Since 1942, the Komi Republic was occupied by the Trudarmeytsy Germans from the eastern regions of the USSR. Germans were exposed not only to national discrimination, but they were also denied many civil rights. Their lives constantly came up against various kinds of restrictions and prohibitions. Special settlers did not have passports, which virtually made them outcasts in a society, many people including women and children served time as political prisoners in labor camps and were forced to work in coal mines, build railway lines and housing. Thousands of people were displaced and quite a few faced execution.

 Russian Germans who wished to remain in the Komi, decided to consolidate. They began to band together in places where they could preserve their national identity, culture and language. Years later, Russian Germans struggle to maintain their identity and hold on to traditional values, as younger generations of Russian and German descent integrate. I have attempted to portray and disclose the relationship of Russian Germans in their environment and show the layers of tradition, identity, and history in a region so pastoral yet a deplorable past still lingers. 

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