Nadja Wohlleben

Independent Photojournalist, Documentary Photographer, Cultural Anthropologist
Location: Berlin, Germany
Nationality: German
Biography: NADJA WOHLLEBEN is an award-winning photojournalist based in Berlin, Germany. In her documentary work, she focusses on women, identity and human rights. Nadja is specifically interested in stories about women warriors. Since 2017, she has been... read on
Public Story
Copyright nadja wohlleben 2021
Date of Work 05/29/15 - 08/25/16
Updated 01/15/18
Location Bedburg, Germany
92 - Helga's Disappearance 

My grandmother, Helga von Randow, was 92 years old when she was diagnosed with dementia. Shortly afterwards, she was admitted into a closed medical facility as her disease had deteriorated. Five months later, Helga passed away.Over the course of these five months, I visited Helga often, spending quality time with her and documenting her daily life. I am grateful that I got to share so much time with my gran during her final weeks, doing all the things she loved most: playing card- and dice games, listening to her favorite singer Udo Jürgens, taking her out for walks in the park and having iced coffee in an Italian cafe.

As time progressed, the dreadful effects of Helga’s illness, not only on herself but the rest of the family became apparent: My mom, Nicoletta, and I were trying hard to cope with the situation, feeling incredibly powerless and paralyzed. Holding onto my camera gave me the strength and a certain distance to face the tragic reality of her horrible disease. The moment I put my camera aside, the pain would hit me with force: There was nothing I could do to help Helga. All I could do was to be by her side, hold her hand, and helplessly watch her once so witty spirit disappear and her body wither away.

When Helga passed away in October 2015 I was heartbroken, yet I also felt relief. Relieved because she didn’t have to suffer any longer. Relieved because she still recognized Nicoletta and I until the end. I was smiling through my tears, because I knew that she was resting in peace, freed from this awful disease. This body of work is a tribute to my grandmother, whose grace and courage never seized to amaze and inspire me.



Also by Nadja Wohlleben —


The Life of a German pig for NZZ

By Nadja Wohlleben / prignitz, brandenburg — THE LIFE OF A GERMAN PIG Commissioned by Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Dec 2020) For NZZ I visited a pig farm..


By Nadja Wohlleben — Commissioned by Der Spiegel, Stern, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, The Financial Times, ZEIT Online, Neues..

SHOSHO JIKINGE - Grandmothers in Nairobi's slums fight off rapists

By Nadja Wohlleben / Nairobi, Kenya — SHOSHO JIKINGE (Grandmother defend yourself) Grandmothers in Nairobi’s townships fight off rapists..

Illegal raves Berlin during COVID-19 pandemic for STERN MAGAZINE

By Nadja Wohlleben / Berlin, Germany — Illegal Raves in Berlin during the Covid-19 pandemic Commissioned by STERN MAGAZINE in August 2020 Despite..

Sportwagenclub Leipzig for NEUE ZÃœRCHER ZEITUNG

By Nadja Wohlleben — SPORTWAGEN CLUB e.V. Commissioned by Neue Zürcher Zeitung (2020) Driving expensive cars with no..

a l o n e TOGETHER

By Nadja Wohlleben / Berlin, Germany — a l o n e TOGETHER (2020 - work in progress)   a l o n e TOGETHER is an intimate self-portrait..

ZEINA NASSAR - German Featherweight Boxing Champion

By Nadja Wohlleben / Berlin, germany — ZEINA NASSAR German Featherweight Boxing Champion (2018 - work in progress) Zeina Nassar, 23, is the..


By Nadja Wohlleben / Vatakara,kerala, India — A SWORD & A SARI (2017) Meenakshi Raghavan ‘Gurukkhal’, 76, has been training the ancient..

Street Workout Barcelona

By Nadja Wohlleben / barcelona

Displaced - Syrian Refugees in Lebanon for HUMEDICA

By Nadja Wohlleben / Bekaa Valley, Lebanon — Displaced - Syrian Refugees in Lebanon for HUMEDICA, 2014 The Syrian civil war is the greatest humanitarian..
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