INCLUSION was made for Lebenshilfe Lüneburg Harburg, an organisation that works for people with disabilities in northern Germany. Inclusion means that all people are naturally included in society, all are equally valuable to our community. Young or old, rich or poor, with or without disabilities, inclusion is a social way of being that needs an open mind.

Pik As – 100 Years


To highlight the centennial of Pik As in Oktober 2013, a night shelter for homeless men in Hamburg, Germany, I was shooting a photographic essay concerning the human conditions in the shelter. The photographs are the core of an exhibition (Freelens Gallery), the book above, and part of coordinated events to engage the public with this invaluable community resource and the people involved.

In the early 20th century economic depression forced many people from the countryside towards towns and cities. The prosperous port of city of Hamburg was a destination for thousands, but for some, this led to a marginal social existence and a hard life on the road.

In 1913 a police asylum was built by the government to monitor the “lumpen proletariat” situation. It was quickly nicknamed Pik As –Ace of Spades– from its abbreviation P. As.

Hamburg is the 2nd largest city of Germany and the 7th richest city of Europe, yet still has many homeless. Located in the heart of the city in an upscale shopping district, Pik As is the largest homeless hostel in Hamburg and oldest in Germany.

Scarce resources and limited man power are supported by volunteers who try to provide the homeless with a decent place to stay, bathe, and maybe a hot meal. Pik As social workers coordinate social services whenever possible.

“Lodging facility for homeless men” is the official name. It is for men who have no legal residence, often without any social connections–except to other homeless–men who are aimlessly floating through the city. The Marginalized are part of big cities and can be displaced or made to appear optically invisible, but the problem is not solved by doing this.

It is still in the public consciousness that homelessness is self inflicted, with alcoholism in the foreground. The social causes are forgotten, as is the need for a last resort social net.

Officially, there are 210 beds, including circa 50 beds for long term residents suffering from severe psychological problems. Unofficially, the average occupancy is about twice that, and in February 2013, there were nights with almost 400 men sleeping in the shelter.

210 beds x 365 days = 76,650 occupied beds per year. Plus the unofficial count.