Peter Malt

A Story from Kabul, Over 50 Years In The Making

By Adam Baidawi
29 October 2018
A German, a camera and a photo essay that reveals an oft-forgotten Afghanistan

In 1962, a newly-married 22-year-old Peter Malt received a new working assignment: relocate from Germany to Kabul, Afghanistan. Malt was working with a company in Hamburg – the company was in Kabul to source casings for sausages, like frankfurters. (No, it doesn’t get any more German.)

Aside from the experience being a grand adventure for Malt and his wife – he relocated by driving a Volkswagen from Germany to Kabul – his four years in Afghanistan forged what would become a lifelong emotional tie between himself and the country. It was a connection that Malt documented through thousands of Kodachrome film photos.

Peter Malt


“In my younger years, I wanted to be a photographer. It was one of my hobbies that I took very seriously,” says Malt, now 78, from New York City.
Fifty-six years later, these never-before-seen photos have been digitised for the very first time.

Peter Malt


“We were interested to see how people lived,” says Malt. “This was the safest place on earth – it was the time of the kingdom.”

Malt’s strongest memories are, of course, of the people, and the strength of a culture that he felt was indominable.

“It was the peaceful life that people lived. They always looked so very proud to us – the Afghans are a proud people,” he says. “The worst thing you can do is fight the Afghans – they will never, ever give up.”

Peter Malt


As decades went by and Malt’s life moved on from Afghanistan, he traced the country’s fortunes through the news, and through messages from friends.

“We did make many friends. But most of them left after the war started – they’re now living all over the world. Many came to the United States, many went to Europe, where they still live. Some went back, but I think very few.”

Peter Malt


Malt is yet to return to the country since leaving in 1966.

Peter Malt

“We’ve thought about it. I have also been invited, but I decided against it – I would really like to keep this image of Afghanistan we love so much, unshattered.”

Peter Malt


Thanks to a meticulous digitisation process, that seldom seen image of Afghanistan has been recaptured for Malt – and made possible to share on these pages. 

Peter Malt


“Some of the shots, still today when I look at them, they are very good.”

We tend to agree.

Peter Malt


From our October 2018 issue