An hour by train from Berlin, a blue bridge connects the destinies of two cities: Frankfurt an der Oder (Germany) and its “younger” sister Słubice (Poland), the most famous of Europe's 36 cross-border towns.

Despite historical conflicts between the two countries and with European values threatened by a growing nationalist drift, this small borderland between Germany and Poland highlights all the fragility and beauty of the European dream: people from different countries who work to build a common future and identity.

Up until 1945, in fact, the two cities were part of a single urban conglomerate within the Third Reich. Following the post-war agreements, the neighborhoods to the east of the river - the future Słubice - found themselves in Polish territory and German inhabitants were forced to flee by night, camping on the western bank of the river.

Słubice became a ghost town so the government decided to repopulate it by forcibly bringing in thousands of new inhabitants from the east of Poland. Since then the destinies of the two towns divided and in the following decades, crossing the bridge over the Oder meant strict controls and hours of waiting.

Things changed in December 2007, when Poland became part of the Schengen area and the remains of the border posts were dismantled: the relationship between the two cities intensified, giving life to a model of cross-border development that touched on sectors such as urban planning, services and education as well as tourism, and even creativity.

In fact, 20 years ago, German artist Michael Kurzwelly came up with the idea of Słubfurt: the virtual union of the two towns (although a real council body exists), a concept aimed to fight the stereotypes that had developed over 60 years of separation.

At the heart of the Old Continent, Słubfurt today is arguably the best antidote to the growing anti-European sentiment.

All the pictures have been taken in 2019. The project was co-financed with a STEP travel grant by the European Cultural Foundation Labs.

The international distribution of the project is in charge of Parallelozero agency:

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Davide Greco © 2012-2021