In the mid-1920s the prominent German photographer Kurt Hielscher was invited by the government in Belgrade to travel to Yugoslavia and create a book with images of the state, founded only a few years earlier. Kurt Hielscher had already published similar and very successful books about Italy, Spain and Germany, so he took up the invitation with enthusiasm.
In Belgrade he got an interpreter, letters of introduction to all local authorities and cars were at his disposal. Hielscher gratefully acknowledges all help in this endeavour. He also thanks the Zeiss-Ikon and Agfa factories for their outstanding cameras, lenses and photo plates.
The journey - from the Alps to Novo Mesto towards Bulgaria - produced 1200 photographs, from which he chose 191. In Hielscher's words, those were the few "which would try to show the attractive, diverse character of the landscape, the architecture, and way of life of the Yugoslavs... I didn't want to create a collection of postcards".
The result is a stunning and often moving collection, published in a book in 1926 in Berlin by Ernst Wassmuth AG.
On Agfa Chromo Isorapid plates.
Natalya Grebenyuk is a Moscow-based photographer and photo editor. She is a fan of motor-rallies and daunting car journeys. Natalya crossed the Balkans from East to West at the height of the Winter 2010 - from Kosovo via Montenegro to Albania and Bosnia.
© Natalya Grebenyuk