The President of the Federal Republic of Germany, His Excellency, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a State visit to New Zealand in November 2017.

HE Dr Steinmeier laying a wreath alongside his wife Ms Elke Büdenbender and the Minister of Defence Ron Mark.

As part of his visit to the National War Memorial on the 6th November, HE Dr Steinmeier unveiled a memorial tapestry gifted to New Zealand on behalf of the people of Germany. The tapestry, titled 'Flandern' (Flanders in English), is part of the Kreuzweg series based on photographs of 14 First World War battlefield sites.  Artist Stephan Schenk who was present at the unveiling explained how the work was a '"reminder of the untold misery and horror and was created to remember the victims of this inconceivable catastrophe of the twentieth century."

Image of the German memorial tapestry gifted to New Zealand.

The large-format works were all created from the largest battlefields or sites of naval battles of the First World War in Europe and overseas. The artist deliberately chose only a very small section of the historical ground or water. Stephan Schenk traveled to Verdun, Gallipoli, Flanders and the Skagerrak for his recordings.

Details from the 'Flandern' tapestry.

Stephan Schenk mostly works on long-term photography projects. He often travels to places in different countries in order to examine certain aspects in a conceptual way. These 'Crossroads' works have been on view at the Fotostiftung Schweiz in Winterthur and Galerie m Bochum in 2014, at the Dommuseum Hildesheim in 2015 and at the Mauermahnmal in Berlin in 2016.

View the 14 works from the 'Crossroads' series here.

The gift of the tapestry is a significant event. It is a symbol of reconciliation following the two world wars and represents the changed nature of the relationship between New Zealand and Germany encompassing trade, education and culture.

The tapestry has been officially gifted to Parliament.

Related links

German President touches down in New Zealand for high-level meetings

New Zealand welcomes German President

99th Commemoration of Armistice Day Saturday 11 November


Updated on 27th August 2019