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ich lebe - kinder und ihre kriegsgeschichten

Children in war
A book of hope

Erich Karl im Buch Ich lebe

Gallery of optimists

ich lebe buchprojekt von save the children

“I Am Alive – How Children Survived a Century of Wars”

It was a photograph, in 1919, that led to the founding of Save the Children. The picture—of a starving child in Vienna—so horrified British activist Eglantyne Jebb that she organized a mass campaign to raise funds for the suffering "children of the enemy". A century later, Save the Children in Germany pays tribute to that child rights revolutionary with an extraordinary book that is both a memorial to her achievements and signpost to the future. 

What happened to the innumerable children of war, now grown, whose lives were changed by the help that Save the Children, now the world's largest independent children's rights organization, provided over the course of the past 100 years?

I Am Alive - How Children Survived a Century of Wars

Editor and overall concept:
Martina Dase for Save the Children Deutschland e.V.
Photography: Dominic Nahr
Text by: Bertram Job, based on interviews and reporting by Anna Mayumi Kerber
Design: mischen, Harri Kuhn, Berlin
Project Management: Ineke Sass

ISBN 978-3-7356-0635-8
324 pages
Languages: German/English

Some of the answers are found within the pages of the sophistically-designed photo-book "I Am Alive. How Children Survived a Century of Wars." In an almost cinematic manner, the book tells the individual biographies of survivors, children who lived through some of the past century's most devastating conflicts. From the now-107-year-old Erich Karl from Berlin, survivor of the First World War, to the newborn Rohingya girl Rajiya in Bangladesh, the book collects 11 haunting reports. It shows, first-hand, how war can ravage childhood, but also provides hopes. The help that these children received in their time of need shaped their future lives. Many paid that kindness forward: those who were helped helped others in kind.

Martina Dase of Save the Children Germany conceived, produced and edited "I Am Alive". Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr handled the visual storytelling. In a special touch, guest authors from around the world were given a single photograph and wrote short essays about the person they saw in the image, without knowing the whole story. The estimated list of guest authors included Dr. Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, acclaimed violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, vice president of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager, Noble Prize-winning writer Professor Wole Soyinka, Iranian author Amir Hassan Cheheltan, and veteran war reporter Jon Swain.

Thanks to a wave of positive reviews—from German national newsweeklies SPIEGEL and Focus Online, from Switzerland's NZZ to television magazines ttt (ARD), kulturzeit (3sat), twist (arte) and Arts and Culture (Deutsche Welle) all the way to the Dithmarscher Landeszeitung, a local paper in the beautiful town of Heide (pop. 21,000) —the first edition of "I Am Alive" sold out before it ever hit bookstores. The second edition will be published mid-March, by Kerber Verlag, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the start of the Syrian War. 

A look inside

  • Every one of us can take responsibility. That is what Save the Children is showing us with this book. I hope that it will motivate many people to get involved. Because—as I see again and again on my travels—there is always hope alongside misery. Children in particular never give up. They are always full of joy and confidence.

    Dr. Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • The amazing pictures in this book won't let you go. Hopefully they will also make a difference.This book should be sent to every politician, to every place of power, in order to show everyone what really matters in the day-to-day business of political: the human being!

    Anne-Sophie Mutter, Violinist and Save the Children Ambassador
  • Great photo book. Great stories, touching, well written, well designed and photographed.

    Michael Souvignier, Photographer & Film Producer, Zeitsprung Pictures
  • This book illustrates, in an incredibly beautiful way, both in terms of content and aesthetics, what has become of the help Save the Children provides. I think it's great that one can see the adults this former children of war have become.

    Ulrike C. Tscharre, Actress and Save the Children Ambassador
  • Fantastic. This whole project is fantastic!

    Jörg Brase, head of ZDF-Studio Istanbul
  • This book is so wonderful. So touching. So true. So beautifully presented. So impressive. I am proud to have contributed in a small way.

    Jon Swain, former war correspondent and guest author of "I Am Alive"
  • This project is more than appealing. It is one of the most beautiful collections of beautiful photos and words – all wonderfully interwoven and complementary – that I´ve had the privilege of trying to digest at Save the Children. I´m in awe.

    Mervyn Fletcher. Head of News, Save the Children UK
  • I have heard nothing by praise from all sides for the design, the texts, the photos. Hats off! Well done!!

    Heidrun Christ, Erich Karl´s "niece"
  • Great initiative! Great book!

    Dr. Wolfgang Jamann, Executive Director, International Civil Society Centre
  • Thank you so much for making me part of this. It has been a real privilege to see an idea born by a small tent and a tea cup in a refugee camp become a big product bringing together all these wonderful people and survivors. Pretty sure the story won´t end here. Lot´s to say still.

    Ahmed Bayram, Regional Media Manager Save the Children International Middle East
  • What an utterly wonderful achievement. I was blown away! I was especially moved by the stories from Rwanda, Cambodia and Germany. And I LOVED the thematic lay outs of the pictures. So much character in all of them.

    Tracy Manners, Global Communications and Public Engagement, Oversight Board
  • AMAZING book!

    Brigitte Lammers, Deputy Supervisory Chair, Save the Children Deutschland


    Here you'll find the latest information of the book "I Am Alive" including press releases, images and video material. We would be happy to arrange interviews with the editor, Martina Dase, the photographer, Dominic Nahr, or selected protagonists and guest authors. For questions or a review copy, please contact

    bildmaterial zum fotoprojekt ich lebe


    Videomaterial Kriegserfahrung


    Schnittmaterial Kiegserfahrung

    Clips and Footage



    Portrait Anne-Sophie Mutter
    Anne-Sophie MutterViolinist and Save the Children Ambassador
    journalist ingo zamperoni im bildband
    Ingo Zamperoni News Anchor and Journalist
    anne watts krankenschwerster bei save the children
    Anne WattsFormer Save the Children nurse
    magarethe vestager ist gastautorin im buch ich lebe
    Margrethe VestagerExecutive Vice-President of the European Commission
    ban ki-moon ist gastautor im buch ich lebe - wie kinder kriege ueberstehen
    Ban Ki-moonFormer UN Secretary-General
    Gerd Müller, Gastautor im Buch Ich lebe
    Gerd MüllerFederal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
    schauspielerin ulrike c tscharre ist botschafterin von save the children
    Ulrike C. TscharreActress and Save the Children Ambassador
    mayte carrasco, filmemacherin und gastautorin
    Mayte CarrascoFilmmaker
    anne-sophie mutter, botschafterin von save the children

    Amal’s Miraculous Transformation

    The world­ renowned violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter has been committed to helping children in war zonesfor decades. As with all our guest authors, she agreed to write her text without knowing the full story, based just on a few facts, by delving deep into one selected image. She describes a special moment in the life of Amal, a refugee girl from Syria.

    Portrait Ingo Zamperoni

    Fanfare for an Imperturbable Man

    The quiet moment in the life of contemporary witness Erich Karl inspired journalist Ingo Zamperoni to write this piece.


    Portrait Anne Watts

    So You Feed a Hungry Child, Then What?

    The former Save the Children nurse Anne Watts has worked all over the world, including in the Sa Kaeo refugee camp in Thailand. The photo of young Vichuta Ly brings back treasured memories.

    magarethe verstager im buch ich lebe

    A Photo of an Elegant Old Woman

    EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is used to getting her photo taken. Unlike María Consuelo Beltrán from Spain. The Danish politicians reads the complexities of Beltrán’s portrait like a map of a European life.

    ban ki moon verfasste einen gastbeitrag in ich lebe

    No Child Ever Forgets the Trauma of War

    Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continues to hope for peace on the Korean peninsula. A peace that Jo Yong-woong, a child of war, has now found in his life.

    entwicklungsminister gerd mueller als gastautor in ich lebe

    Children of the World

    For many weeks Dr. Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, exhibited this book’s photographs in his ministry building. For the dedicated politician, the image of little Rajiya is more than just a photo.

    ulrike c tscharre ist gastautorin in ich lebe - wie kinder kriege ueberstehen

    Where the Flowers Bloom

    The performer and Save the Children Ambassador Ulrike C. Tscharre looks at three scenes from the life of Evelyne Brix and studies them like a screenplay.

    mayte carrasco ist gastautorin

    In the Space between Yesterday and Tomorrow

    Mayte Carrasco and Marcel Mettelsiefen are war reporters and the parents of a daughter. Many of their films depict the fate of children in conflict zones. That the victims of the Colombian civil war are particularly close to the hearts of these two Spanish-language native speakers can be seen in their reflections on the two images in José’s story.

    Selected Coverage

    In November, 2020, Save the Children, together with Dr. Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, presented the illustrated book "I Am Alive" at a digital press conference. Participating, via video-link, were photographer Dominic Nahr, the survivors Vichuta Ly from Cambodia, and José David Ríos from Colombia, as well as British war reporter Jon Swain, like the host Dr. Müller, one of the book's guest authors. Here are highlights of the event.

    Spiegel Online (Germany)
    100 Jahre Save the Children »Der Blick trifft direkt ins Herz«

    20.11.2020: Seit 100 Jahren unterstützt Save the Children Kinder in Not, zum Beispiel Amal aus Syrien. Ein neuer Bildband der Hilfsorganisation erzählt Lebensgeschichten von Kindern aus zehn Dekaden.


    t-online (Germany)
    Deutscher Zeitzeuge im Video
    Zwei Weltkriege, jetzt Corona: Wovor sich ein 107-Jähriger fürchtet

    28.11.2020: Armut, Hunger, Krieg – all das hat Erich Karl am eigenen Leib erfahren. Dennoch hat sich der 107-Jährige bis heute seine Geheimwaffe gegen Krisen bewahrt. Nur eine Sorge lässt ihn einfach nicht los.

    berichterstattung im stern ueber den bildband

    Stern (Germany)

    21.22.2019: Seit 100 Jahren schützt „Save the Children“ Kinder in Kriegsgebieten vor Hunger und Gewalt. Zum Jubiläum erzählen sechs Menschen, wie die Hilfsorganisation ihr Leben veränderte. More...

    neue zuercher zeitung ueber das buch ich lebe

    Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)

    10.12.2020: Weltweit leben 426 Millionen Kinder in Konfliktregionen. Ein neues Buch porträtiert Menschen, die als Kind ebenfalls Hunger und Gewalt erlebt haben, und lässt sie erzählen, was das mit ihnen gemacht hat. More...


    El País (Spain)

    31.12.2019: La Guerra Civil española, las dos guerras mundiales, la de Corea... Save the Children reúne en una colección de fotografías actuales a supervivientes de los conflictos armados más cruentos de las últimas décadas. More...

    deutsche welle berichterstattung ueber ich lebe

    Deutsche Welle Arts and Culture (Germany)

    20.11.2020 Every year since 1959 November the 20th has been world children’s day. It was created by the United Nations in conjunction with the Declaration of Children’s Rights first introduced on that day in 1959. The global charity Save the Children, itself celebrating 100 years since it was founded, has published a book featuring stories of children who grew up in warzones – and were helped by Save the Children. More...

    Dominic Nahr


    Dominic Nahr

    The award­winning Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr grew up in Hong Kong and lived in East Africa for many years. As an ambassador for Leica, he has been reporting on the world’s trouble spots for over ten years. His coverage of the civil war in southern Sudan, on rebels and child soldiers in the Congo, and on terrorism in Somalia has been published in international magazines such as Time, The New Yorker, DIE ZEIT, and stern. Dominic Nahr studies people with deep empathy; his visual language goes beyond documenting atrocities and catastrophes. In 2017, he founded the photo agency MAPS with colleagues. In the same year, he photographed Save the Children’s relief mission in drought-stricken Somalia for National Geographic and DER SPIEGEL. Dominic Nahr has been working on the Save the Children project I Am Alive since 2018. The organisation exhibited his photographs in 2019 at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, and to representatives of the EU Commission in Brussels.

    martina dase ist herausgeberin des buchprojekts ich lebe


    Martina Dase

    ‘The thing about people is, we are all interested in the lives of others. When you relate, that’s when you become curious.’ Martina Dase, a journalist, filmmaker, and expert on strategic communication, knows how important visual media are in connecting humanitarian stories with new audiences. As an award-winning television journalist for the broadcasters ARD, arte, and 3sat, Martina developed her own unique cinematic style, and the hallmarks of her artistic stamp are a common thread running through each page of this book. Martina’s desire to not just depict reality, but to help shape a better world led her to non-governmental organisations. She has designed multiple strategic campaigns and flagship projects, including for Greenpeace and Welthungerhilfe, before joining Save the Children Germany in 2016 to lead the communications team. There, she has worked closely with leading German media outlets, covering the humanitarian disaster on location in Somalia, hosted the anniversary celebration to mark one hundred years of Save the Children’s work, and is spearheading debate on the future of development aid. Martina has retained a keen focus on Africa, and her ability to show the humans behind the headlines has shaped all her work.

    I am alive

    Ein kleines Mädchen, das in einem Camp für Geflüchtete zur Welt gekommen ist und im Rahmen des Fotobuchs "Ich Lebe" von Save the Children porträtiert wurde.

    Children suffer the most in every war—today as much as 100 years ago. How do they survive? When they get help, how does it change their lives?

    View photo series

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    Cosima Trittel, Referentin Strategische Kommunikation

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