Compared to Niger, Burkina Faso or Haiti, for example, there is no real hardship in Germany. When a family’s income is far below the average German income, however, and taking the established costs of living into account, poverty does exist, even in this rich country. 

According to a UNICEF report on the situation of children in Germany, almost 1.5 million children under the age of 16 were affected by poverty in 2019. And the risk of being one of them has even increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. Duisburg-Hochfeld is one of the places where you can see what that actually means.

The partial closure of schools has worsened the already existing educational disadvantages and the social disintegration of many young people here. They have a German passport, but do not feel at home anywhere, they don’t feel ‘truly German’. They live without a perspective for the future. Biker gangs as well as Arab and Eastern European clans offer themselves as alternatives. Pressure is put on young people from all sides here.

Toby Binder has portrayed these young people who often have to live ten at a time in two-room apartments: their boredom between closed shops and abandoned factories, their hanging around on the streets, their posing, their aggressiveness even at the age of only eight or nine. Poverty in Germany looks different from poverty in Niger or Haiti. But it is there.

Photographer: Toby Binder, Germany

Portrait: Toby Binder

© Toby Binder

Toby Binder, born 1977 in Esslingen, studied at the Stuttgart Academy of Arts and Design. Both everyday life and post-war and crisis situations are among his main topics. For his photo series, Binder traveled to many countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. 

His series and portraits have been published, among others, in Stern Magazine, Die ZEIT, The Guardian, Le Monde, NZZ and The Washington Post. Binder has also won the Sony World Photo Award and the Henri Nannen Prize.


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