Posts Tagged ‘WWII

09
Dec
12

Exhibition: ‘WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath’ at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Posting Part 1

Exhibition dates: 11th November 2012 – 3rd February 2013

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This is the biggest posting on one exhibition that I have ever undertaken on Art Blart!

As befits the gravity of the subject matter this posting is so humongous that I have had to split it into 4 separate postings. This is how to research and stage a contemporary photography exhibition that fully explores its theme (NGV please note!). The curators reviewed more than one million photographs in 17 countries, locating pictures in archives, military libraries, museums, private collections, historical societies and news agencies; in the personal files of photographers and service personnel; and at two annual photojournalism festivals producing an exhibition that features 26 sections (an inspired and thoughtful selection) that includes nearly 500 objects that illuminate all aspects of WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY.

I have spent hours researching and finding photographs on the Internet to support the posting. It has been a great learning experience and my admiration for photographers of all types has increased. I have discovered the photographs and stories of new image makers that I did not know and some hidden treasures along the way. I hope you enjoy this monster posting on a subject matter that should be consigned to the history books of human evolution.

**Please be aware that there are graphic photographs in all of these postings.** Part 2Part 3Part 4

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for allowing me to publish some of the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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“On November 11, 2012, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, debuts an unprecedented exhibition exploring the experience of war through the eyes of photographers. WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath features nearly 500 objects, including photographs, books, magazines, albums and photographic equipment. The photographs were made by more than 280 photographers, from 28 nations, who have covered conflict on six continents over 165 years, from the Mexican-American War of 1846 through present-day conflicts. The exhibition takes a critical look at the relationship between war and photography, exploring what types of photographs are, and are not, made, and by whom and for whom. Rather than a chronological survey of wartime photographs or a survey of “greatest hits,” the exhibition presents types of photographs repeatedly made during the many phases of war – regardless of the size or cause of the conflict, the photographers’ or subjects’ culture or the era in which the pictures were recorded. The images in the exhibition are organized according to the progression of war: from the acts that instigate armed conflict, to “the fight,” to victory and defeat, and images that memorialize a war, its combatants and its victims. Both iconic images and previously unknown images are on view, taken by military photographers, commercial photographers (portrait and photojournalist), amateurs and artists.

“‘WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY’ promises to be another pioneering exhibition, following other landmark MFAH photography exhibitions such as ‘Czech Modernism: 1900-1945’ (1989) and ‘The History of Japanese Photography’ (2003),” said Gary Tinterow, MFAH director. “Anne Tucker, along with her co-curators, Natalie Zelt and Will Michels, has spent a decade preparing this unprecedented exploration of the complex and profound relationship between war and photography.” “Photographs serve the public as a collective memory of the experience of war, yet most presentations that deal with the material are organized chronologically,” commented Tucker. “We believe ‘WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY’ is unique in its scope, exploring conflict and its consequences across the globe and over time, analyzing this complex and unrelenting phenomenon.”

The earliest work in the exhibition is from 1847, taken from the first photographed conflict: the Mexican-American War. Other early examples include photographs from the Crimean War, such as Roger Fenton’s iconic The Valley of the Shadow of Death (1855) and Felice Beato’s photograph of the devastated interior of Fort Taku in China during the Second Opium War (1860). Among the most recent images is a 2008 photograph of the Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the remote Korengal Valley of Eastern Afghanistan by Tim Hetherington, who was killed in April 2011 while covering the civil war in Libya. Also represented with two photographs in the exhibition is Chris Hondros, who was killed with Hetherington. While the exhibition is organized according to the phases of war, portraits of servicemen, military and political leaders and civilians are a consistent presence throughout, including Yousuf Karsh’s classic 1941 image of Winston Churchill, and the Marlboro Marine (2004), taken by embedded Los Angeles Times photographer Luis Sinco of soldier James Blake Miller after an assault in Fallujah, Iraq. Sinco’s image was published worldwide on the cover of 150 publications and became a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

The exhibition was initiated in 2002, when the MFAH acquired what is purported to be the first print made from Joe Rosenthal’s negative of Old Glory Goes Up on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima (1945). From this initial acquisition, the curators decided to organize an exhibition that would focus on war photography as a genre. During the evolution of the project, the museum acquired more than a third of the prints in the exhibition. The curators reviewed more than one million photographs in 17 countries, locating pictures in archives, military libraries, museums, private collections, historical societies and news agencies; in the personal files of photographers and service personnel; and at two annual photojournalism festivals: World Press Photo (Amsterdam) and Visa pour l’Image (Perpignan, France). The curators based their appraisals on the clarity of the photographers’ observation and capacity to make memorable and striking pictures that have lasting relevance. The pictures were recorded by some of the most celebrated conflict photographers, as well as by many who remain anonymous. Almost every photographic process is included, ranging from daguerreotypes to inkjet prints, digital captures and cell-phone shots.”

Press release from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

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Yousuf Karsh. 'Winston Churchill' 1941

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Yousuf Karsh
Winston Churchill
1941

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Roger Fenton. 'The Valley of the Shadow of Death' 1855

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Roger Fenton
The Valley of the Shadow of Death
1855

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WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath is organized into 26 sections, which unfold in the sequence that typifies the stages of war, from the advent of conflict through the fight, aftermath and remembrance. Each section showcases images appropriate to that category while cutting across cultures, time and place. Outside of this chronological approach are focused galleries for “Media Coverage and Dissemination” (with an emphasis on technology); “Iwo Jima” (a case study); and “Photographic Essays” (excerpts from two landmark photojournalism essays, by Larry Burrows and Todd Heisler).

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1. Media Coverage and Dissemination provides an overview of how technology has profoundly affected the ways that pictures from the front reach the public: from Roger Fenton and his horse-drawn photography van (commissioned by the British government to document the Crimean War), to Joe Rosenthal’s 1940s Anniversary Speed Graphic (4 x 5) camera, to pictures taken with the Hipstamatic app of an iPhone by photojournalist Michael Christopher Brown in Egypt during the protests and clashes of the Arab Spring. (22 images/objects)

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Roger Fenton English (1819-1869) 'The artist's van [Marcus Sparling, full-length portrait, seated on Roger Fenton's photographic van]' 1855

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Roger Fenton English (1819-1869)
The artist’s van [Marcus Sparling, full-length portrait, seated on Roger Fenton’s photographic van]
1855
Salted paper print
17.5 × 16.5 cm
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

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Manufactured by Graflex, active 1912-1973
Anniversary Speed Graphic (4 x 5), “Scott S. Wigle camera” (First American-made D-Day picture)
c. 1940
camera
Collection of George Eastman House (Gift of Graflex, Inc.)

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2. The photographs in An Advent of War depict the catalytic events of war. These moments of instigation are rarely captured, as photographers are not always present at the initial attack or provocation. Photographs that Robert Clark took on the morning of September 11, 2001, and the aerial view of torpedoes approaching Battleship Row during the Pearl Harbor attack, taken by an unknown Japanese airman on December 7, 1941, both convey with clarity the concept of war’s advent. (11 images).

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Unknown photographer Japanese
War in Hawaiian Water. Japanese Torpedoes Attack Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941
gelatin silver print
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of Will Michels

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3. Recruitment & Embarkation shows mobilization: the movement toward the front. Mikhail Trakhman captures a Russian mother kissing her son goodbye in Kolkhoz farmer M. Nikolaïeva bids her son Ivan goodbye before he joins the partisans (1942), while a 1916 photograph by Josiah Barnes, known as the “Embarkation Photographer,” shows an archetypal moment: young Australian soldiers waving goodbye from a ship as they depart their home country to fight in World War I. (7 images)

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Josiah Barnes Australian (1858-1921)
Embarkation of HMAT Ajana, Melbourne
July 8, 1916
Gelatin silver print (printed 2012)
On loan from the Australian War Memorial

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Mikhail Trakhman
Kolkhoz farmer M. Nikolaïeva bids her son Ivan goodbye before he joins the partisans
1942

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4. Training explores photographs of soldiers in boot camp or more-advanced phases of instruction and exercise. World War II Royal Navy officers gather around a desk to study different types of aircraft in a photograph by Sir Cecil Beaton. Also included is the iconic Vietnam-era photograph of a U.S. Marine drill sergeant reprimanding a recruit in South Carolina, from Thomas Hoepker’s series US Marine Corps boot camp, 1970. In one photograph, shot by a Japanese soldier and published in 1938 by Look magazine, Japanese soldiers use living Chinese prisoners in bayonet practice. (13 images) 

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Thomas Hoepker German (born 1936)
A US Marine drill sergeant delivers a severe reprimand to a recruit, Parris Island, South Carolina
1970
from the series US Marine Corps boot camp, 1970
Inkjet print
Thomas Hoepker / Magnum Photos
© Thomas Hoepker / Magnum Photos

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5. Daily Routine features moments of boredom, routine and playfulness. A member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps wears a gas mask as he peels onions. A 1942 photograph by Sir Cecil Beaton catches the off-guard expression of a Royal Navy man at a sewing machine, mending a signal flag. (13 images)

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Anon. 'Soldiers trying out their gas masks in every possible way. Putting the respirator to good use while peeling onions. 40th Division, Camp Kearny, San Diego, California' 1918

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Anon
Soldiers trying out their gas masks in every possible way. Putting the respirator to good use while peeling onions. 40th Division, Camp Kearny, San Diego, California
1918
National Archives and Records Administration

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Cecil Beaton, English (1904-1980)
A Royal Navy sailor on board HMS Alcantara uses a portable sewing machine to repair a signal flag during a voyage to Sierra Leone
March 1942
Gelatin silver print, printed 2012
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation
© The Imperial War Museums (neg. #CBM 1049)

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HMS Alcantara

HMS Alcatara was an RML passenger liner of 22,209 tons and 19 knots launched in 1926, and taken up by the Royal Navy for conversion to an armed merchant cruiser to counter the threat posed by German surface raiders against shipping. When Jim Hingston joined her as an ordinary seaman at Freetown she was still largely in merchant dress, with wood panelling throughout. Much to the regret of her crew this was removed during their stay at Simonstown – the wisdom of that was apparent to them only too soon.

There were some 53 such ships in all, poorly armed, in Alcantara’s case with eight 6 inch and two 3 inch guns, the former having a range of some 14,200 yards (13,000 metres). Such armament could not be much more than defensive, the intention being that the AMCs should radio the position of the German ship and not only give merchant shipping a chance to escape but delay the commerce raider long enough to allow regular RN warships to get to the scene.

Alcantara’s opponent, the Thor, was laid down in 1938 as a freighter of 9,200 tons displacement and a speed of 18 knots, but commissioned as a commerce raider on 14 March 1940. Though she had only 6 150 mm guns they had a much greater range, at 20,000 yards, than Alcantara and other British AMCs. She also carried a scout floatplane. During the engagement with Alcantara on 28 July 1940 the Thor inflicted significant damage but the Alcantara successfully closed, and after being hit the Thor withdrew in order to avoid the risk of being crippled or being forced to abort her mission. In later encounters with AMCs the Thor severely damaged the Carnarvon Castle and sank Voltaire.

HMS Alcantara later had her 6 in armament upgraded and was equipped with a seaplane, but as the threat of surface raiders receded she was converted to her more natural role of troopship in 1943.

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6. Images of Reconnaissance, Resistance and Sabotage are scarce by nature, as they reveal spies in the act and could be used against those depicted or their families. A U.S. soldier on night watch sits atop a mountain in Afghanistan, wrapped in a blanket and peering into night-vision equipment, in a photograph by Adam Ferguson. A photograph by T. E. Lawrence (known as Lawrence of Arabia) documents the bombing of the Hejaz Railway during the Arab Revolt. Cas Oorthuys’ photograph Under German Occupation (Dutch Worker’s Front), Amsterdam (c. 1940-45), taken with a camera hidden in his jacket, shows the back of a fellow countryman who is helping to conceal the photographer, with German troops in the distance. Also included is Arkady Shaikhet’s 1942 photograph Partisan Girl depicting Olga Mekheda, who was renowned for her ability to get through German roadblocks – even while pregnant. (10 images)

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T.E. Lawrence
Untitled [A Tulip bomb explodes on the railway Hejaz Railway, near Deraa, Hejaz, Ottoman Empire]
1918
Collection of the MFA Houston

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Adam Ferguson. 'September 4, Tangi valley, Wardak province, Afghanistan, a soldier of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division was  attentively monitoring a highway' September 4, 2009

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Adam Ferguson
September 4, Tangi valley, Wardak province, Afghanistan, a soldier of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division was  attentively monitoring a highway
September 4, 2009

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“To me, this picture epitomizes the abstract idea of the ‘enemy’ that exists within the U.S. led war in Afghanistan: a young infantryman watches a road with a long-range acquisition sight surveying for insurgents planting Improvised Explosive Devices. U.S. Army Infantrymen rarely knowingly come face to face with their enemy, combat is fleeting and fought like cat and mouse, and the most decisive blows are determined by intelligence gathering, and then delivered through technology that maintains a safe distance, just like a video game.”

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Arkady Shaikhet Russian (1898-1959)
Partisan Girl
1942
Gelatin silver print
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of Marion Mundy
© Arkady Shaikhet Estate, Moscow, courtesy Nailya Alexander Gallery, NYC

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7. Patrol & Troop Movement conveys the mass movements of peoples and personnel by land, sea and air, from the movement of troops and supplies to patrols by all five divisions of military service: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force. Combat patrols are detachments of forces sent into hostile terrain for a range of missions, and they – as well as the photographers accompanying them – face considerable danger. João Silva’s three sequenced frames show, through his eyes, the tilted earth just after he was felled by an IED while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2010; he lost both legs in the incident. A tranquil, 1917 image by Australian James Frank Hurley depicts silhouetted soldiers walking in a line, their reflections captured in a body of water. A 1943 photograph by American Warrant Photographer Jess W. January USCGR shows members of the U.S. Coast Guard observing a depth-charge explosion hitting a German submarine that stalked their convoy. (14 images)

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João Silva. 'Soldiers of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 4th Infantry Division react to photographer Joao Silva stepping on a mine in the Arghandab district of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on Oct. 23, 2010'

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João Silva
Soldiers of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 4th Infantry Division react to photographer Joao Silva stepping on a mine in the Arghandab district of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on Oct. 23, 2010, in a three-photo combination. For American troops in heavily-mined Afghan villages, steering clear of improvised explosive devices is the most difficult task
October 23, 2010
© João Silva / The New York Times via Redux

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Warrant Photographer Jess W. January USCGR, American
USCG Cutter Spencer destroys Nazi sub
April 17, 1943
Gelatin silver print
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

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8. The Wait depicts a common situation of wartime. Susan Meiselas captures a tense moment during a 1978 street fight in Nicaragua, when muchachos with Molotov cocktails line up in an alleyway, ready to initiate an attack on the National Guard. Robert Capa shows two female French ambulance drivers in Italy during World War II, leaning against their vehicle, knitting, as they wait to be called. (8 images)

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Robert Capa (1913-1954)
Drivers from the French ambulance corps near the front, waiting to be called
Italy, 1944
Original album – Italy. Cassino Campaign. W.W.II.
© 2001 By Cornell Capa, Agentur Magnum

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Susan Meiselas American (born 1948)
Muchachos Await Counter Attack by The National Guard, Matagalpa, Nicaragua
1978
Chromogenic print (printed 2006)
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, museum purchase with funds provided by Photo Forum 2006
© Susan Meiselas / Magnum Photos

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9. The Fight is one of the most extensive sections in the exhibition. Dmitri Baltermants shot Attack – Eastern Front WWII (cover image of the exhibition catalogue) in 1941 from the trench, as men charged over him. Sky Over Sevastopol (1944), by Evgeny Khaldey, is an aerial photograph of planes on their way to a bombing raid of the strategically important naval point. Joe Rosenthal’s Over the Top – American Troops Move onto the Beach at Iwo Jima (1945) pictures infantrymen emerging from the protection of their landing craft into enemy fire. Staged photographs, presented as authentic documents, tend to proliferate during wartime, and several examples are included here. In 1942 the Public Relations Department of the War issued an assignment to photographers to create “representative” images of combat in North Africa for more dynamic images; official British photographer Len Chetwyn staged an Australian officer leading the charging line in the battle of El Alamein, using smoke in the background from the cookhouse to create a lively image. (21 images)

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Len Chetwyn English (1909-1980)
Australians approached the strong point, ready to rush in from different sides
November 3, 1942
Silver gelatin photograph

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Joe Rosenthal American (1911-2006)
Over the Top – American Troops Move onto the Beach at Iwo Jima
February 19, 1945
Gelatin silver print with applied ink (printed February 23, 1945)
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of Richard S. and Dodie Otey Jackson in honor of Ira J. Jackson, M.D., and his service in the Pacific Theater during World War II
© AP / Wide World Photos

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Dmitri Baltermants
Attack – Eastern Front WWII
1941
Silver gelatin photograph

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10. The Wait and Rescue bookend The Fight. Among the photographs in Rescue are Ambush of the 173rd AB, South Vietnam (1965), by Tim Page, showing soldiers immediately combing through a battleground to assist the wounded; American Lt. Wayne Miller’s image of a wounded gunner being lifted from the turret of a torpedo bomber; and Life magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith’s 1944 photograph of an American soldier rescuing a dying Japanese infant. Smith wrote about that moment, stating “hands trained for killing gently… extricated the infant” to be transported to medical care. (8 images) 

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Lt. Wayne Miller
Crewmen lifting Kenneth Bratton out of turret of TBF on the USS SARATOGA after raid on Rabaul
November 1943
Silver gelatin photograph

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More information: Kenneth C. Bratton – Mississippi (WWII vet). He was born in Pontotoc, MS, December 17, 1918. He passed away April 15, 1982. Lt. Bratton won a purple heart for his bravery during the attack on Rabaul November 11, 1943.

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W. Eugene Smith American (1918-1978)
Dying Infant Found by American Soldiers in Saipan
June 1944
Gelatin silver print
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of Will Michels in honor of Anne Wilkes Tucker
© Estate of W. Eugene Smith / Black Star

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11. Aftermath, with four subsections, features photographs taken after the battle has ended. “Death on the battlefield is one of the earliest types of war images: Felice Beato photographed the dead in the interior of Fort Taku in the Second Opium War (1860). George Strock’s Dead GIs on Buna Beach, New Guinea (1943), which ran in Life magazine with personal details about the casualties, was the first published photograph from any conflict of American dead in World War II. In 1966, Associated Press photographer Henri Huet documented an American paratrooper, who was killed in action, being raised to an evacuation helicopter. Incinerated Iraqi, Gulf War, Iraq, taken by Kenneth Jarecke, was published in Europe, but the American Associated Press editors withheld it in the United States. Shell Shock and Exhaustion shows impenetrable exhaustion after battle. In Don McCullin’s Shell-shocked soldier awaiting transportation away from the front line, Hué, Vietnam (1968), the man looks forward with the “thousand-yard stare.” Robert Attebury photographed Marines so exhausted after a 2005 battle in Iraq that lasted 17 hours that they fell asleep where they had been standing, amid the rubble of a destroyed building. Grief and Battlefield Burials were taken at the site of the conflict, including David Turnley’s 1991 picture of a weeping soldier who has just learned that the remains in a nearby body bag are those of a close friend. Destruction of Property shows collateral damage from war. Christophe Agou, for instance, photographed the smoldering steel remains of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 2001. (39 images)

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George Strock. 'Dead GIs on Buna Beach, New Guinea' January 1943

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George Strock
Dead GIs on Buna Beach, New Guinea
January 1943
© George Strock / LIFE

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Henri Huet, French (1927-1971)
The body of an American paratrooper killed in action in the jungle near the Cambodian border is raised up to an evacuation helicopter, Vietnam
1966
Gelatin silver print (printed 2004)
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, museum purchase
© AP / Wide World Photos

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Kenneth Jarecke. 'Gulf War: Incinerated Iraqi soldier in personnel carrier' Nasiriyah, Iraq, March1991

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Kenneth Jarecke
Gulf War: Incinerated Iraqi soldier in personnel carrier
Nasiriyah, Iraq, March1991

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Felice Beato
Angle of North Taku Fort at which the French entered
August 21-22, 1860

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Don McCullin
Shell-shocked US soldier awaiting transportation away from the front line
Hue, Vietnam, 1968
© Don McCullin

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David Turnley
American Soldier Grieving for Comrade
Iraq, 1991

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Ken Kozakiewicz (left) breaks down in an evacuation helicopter after hearing that his friend, the driver of his Bradley Fighting Vehicle, was killed in a “friendly fire” incident that he himself survived. Michael Tsangarakis (center) suffers severe burns from ammunition rounds that blew up inside the vehicle during the incident. All of the soldiers were exposed to depleted uranium as a result of the explosion. They and the body of the dead man are on their way to a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital).

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12. Prisoners of War (Civilian and Military)/Interrogation is a frequently photographed subject because such pictures can be made outside an area of conflict. Moreover, the people in control often documented their prisoners as a show of power. The photographs in this section include the official recording of a prisoner of war before his execution by the Khmer Rouge, taken by Nhem Ein. (14 images)

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Nhem Ein Cambodian (born 1959)
Untitled (prisoner #389 of the Khmer Rouge; man)
1975-79
Gelatin silver print (printed 1994)
Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art; Arthur M. Bullowa Fund and Geraldine Murphy Fund. Digital image
© The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA Art Resource, NY. Used with permission of Photo Archive Group

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13. Iwo Jima is a case study within the exhibition that presents the complete thematic narrative in photographs from a specific battle. Included in this section is the inspiration for the exhibition: Joe Rosenthal’s iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning Old Glory Goes Up on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, a photograph he took as an Associated Press photographer in World War II showing U.S. Marines and one Navy medic raising the American flag on the remote Pacific island. (25 images)

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Joe Rosenthal, American (1911-2006)
Old Glory Goes Up on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima
February 23, 1945
Gelatin silver print
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Manfred Heiting Collection, gift of the Kevin and Lesley Lilly Family
© AP / Wide World Photos

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Exhibition posting continued in Part 2…

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Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
1001 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Thursday 10.00 am – 9.00 pm
Friday, Saturday 10.00 am – 7.00 pm
Sunday 12.15 pm – 7.00 pm
Closed Monday, except Monday holidays
Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston website

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03
Sep
12

Exhibition: ‘Home Front: Wartime Sydney 1939-45’ at the Museum of Sydney

Exhibition dates: 31st March – 9th September 2012

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Some poignant photographs in this posting of young Australian men setting off to fight in the early stages of the Second World War. The message scrawled in chalk on the side of the train (below, at left) reads, “Berlin first stop. Look out Hitler, we’ll be there soon.” Little did they know it would be five long, hard years of fighting and countless deaths before that aphorism would come true. The 6th division AIF troops first fought in North Africa against the Italians at Tobruk and was then sent to Greece to fight the German advance. About 39 per cent of the Australian troops in Greece on 6 April 1941 were either killed, wounded or became prisoners of war. The division then fought in the Pacific War on the Kokoda Trail campaign in the New Guinea theatre until the end of the war.

I wonder how many of the men, smiling and leaning out of the train carriage or departing on a troop ship, returned to these shores?

The last photograph in the posting is so very eloquent it actually moved me to tears. The women being hoisted aloft to kiss her loved one last time – clutching her handbag, complete with rumpled, lumpy stockings. To the right (and this is what caught my eye), a man looks straight at the camera while another right next to him has this distant melancholy look on his face as though he is not actually there. A portent of things to come. Brave men, fighting in the only war that Australians have had to fight for their own freedom, not at the whim of a colonial power or overseas ally in some far of distant land. Brave men and women – we wouldn’t be here without them.

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Many thankx to the Museum of Sydney for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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S Hood
6th division AIF troops waving from troop-train carriage, 13 September 1940
1940
© Australian War Memorial

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Anon
Troops of the 6th Division wave goodbye, Sydney 1940
1940
© Australian War Memorial

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Anon
Men of the 6th Division returning from Wewak crowd the deck of HMS Implacable, 18 Dec 1945
1945
© Australian War Memorial

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Anon
An Australian built DAP Bristol Beaufort VIII aircraft, serial no A9-700, in flight over Sydney Harbour near the Bridge
c. 1944
© Australian War Memorial

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Anon
Partly submerged RAN accommodation ship damaged during the unsuccessful Japanese midget submarine attack 1 June 1942
1942
© Australian War Memorial

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Anon
Two women donning gas masks as part of an air raid drill
Nd
© Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria

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Anon
Members of the Wardens’ Women’s Auxiliary making for the scene of an incident
c. 1943
© Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria

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“In May 1942 three Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour in an attempt to sink allied ships, bringing the once far away war to the shores of the harbourside city and shaking the country to its core. Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Sydney Harbour, Home Front: Wartime Sydney 1939-45 a new exhibition opening 31 March at the Museum of Sydney, explores the experience of the women, men and children who rallied together to support the war effort from home.

Unprepared for another world war, Australians initially referred to the conflict as ‘the phoney war’, however it wasn’t long before propaganda posters were plastered around Sydney, censorship and food rationing became the norm, and tank traps and barbed wire replaced bronzed bodies on Sydney beaches. For six long years the world seemed to come to Sydney as soldiers, sailors and airmen from many nations called Sydney home, making wartime an exciting and thrilling period for some, while for others it was a long and lonely time interrupted by the occasional letter from a loved one serving overseas.

Almost 40,000 Australians lost their lives with the war leaving a lasting impact at home and transforming the lives of generations of Australians, in particular the lives of women, says Curator Annie Campbell. “As well as having to cope with war related anxieties and stress, many women were ‘manpowered’ to work in wartime industries such as ammunitions factories and aircraft construction. Everyone had to make sacrifices on the home front, however despite wartime shortages and rationing, women were expected and actively encouraged to look smart, which often involved some innovative thinking. One of my favourite objects in the exhibition is a wedding dress made out of parachute silk and mosquito net for a war bride, later worn by her sister and two girlfriends on their special days.

While the troops were busy on the battlefields, Sydneysiders prepared for the possibility of an enemy invasion on home soil. An anti-submarine boom net was installed across Sydney Harbour to keep out attacking forces, bomb shelters were constructed in Hyde Park and protective timbers were placed around landmark buildings. In 1942 blackout restrictions were introduced to limit the effectiveness of air raids, all Sydney lights were switched off and car, train and tram headlights were masked, giving the city a sinister feel. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, large numbers of people were ready to have fun in Sydney and the Trocadero on George Street became a mecca for white American servicemen, while the Booker T Washington Club in Albion Street Surry Hills serviced the African-American GI’s,” says Campbell.

Highlights of the exhibition include the microphone used by Prime Minister Robert Menzies to announce that Australia was at war, remnants of the Japanese midget submarines that attacked Sydney, over 100 photographs and artworks depicting wartime Sydney, and a short documentary featuring historic footage. Over 200 wartime Sydney mementoes will also feature in the exhibition including propaganda posters, warden’s memorabilia, letters from soldiers serving overseas and a selection of wartime fashions.”

Press release from the Museum of Sydney website

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Anon
Sydney kindergarten children wearing air raid headgear designed to muffle sounds and prevent them from biting tongues
Nd
© Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW

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Anon
Eve Holliman, Hilda Jamieson and Vera Thurlow converting a car into an ambulance
Nd
© Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria

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Anon
Woman war worker
1944
© Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW

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Anon
Change Over to a Victory Job propaganda poster
Nd
© Australian War Memorial

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Anon
Advertisement for Ponds
1945
© National Library of Australia

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Weaver Hawkins
Jitterbugs
1945
Oil on canvas, Art Gallery of New South Wales
© Estate of H F Weaver Hawkins
Photograph Jenni Carter

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S Hood
Sydney embarkation, 13 September 1940
1940
© Australian War Memorial

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S Hood
Sydney embarkation, 13 September 1940
1940
© Australian War Memorial

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Museum of Sydney
Cnr Bridge and Phillip Streets
Sydney, NSW 2000
T: (02) 9251 5988

Opening hours:
Open daily 9.30am – 5pm
Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day

Museum of Sydney website

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17
Apr
12

Exhibition: ‘C’est la vie. Press photography since 1940’ at the Swiss National Museum, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 11th January – 22nd March 2012

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Another fascinating, quirky photography exhibition. The photographs from the 1940s are poignant, especially when we remember what was happening in the rest of Europe at this time. Contrary to popular opinion, the Swiss did not have an easy time of it during the Second World War: threatened with invasion by Hitler on one the hand, this landlocked country relied heavily on imports to survive. Many of its citizens were near starvation during the course of the war but they became more self sufficient, growing their own food. They also built up their military (ironically using pre-war German assembled Messerschmitt planes as a basis for their air force). The Germans knew that Switzerland would be a hard country to conquer so they did not force the issue. For an in depth look at the fate of neutral countries during the Second World War see the excellent book The Neutrals by Denis J. Fodor (Volume 35 of World War Two: Time-Life Books, 1982) which includes “chapters on Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Turkey, and others including their success or lack of success in maintaining their neutrality.” (Neal A. Wellons) There is also a picture essay on Switzerland. An absorbing read.

The photograph Swimming lessons for schoolchildren at the Wollishofen lakeside swimming area, Zurich (1943, below) is especially foreboding of the conflict that was swirling around Switzerland in 1943, the child’s heads in a noose as he tries to stay afloat a metaphor for the conflagration that was occurring all around. One slip for Switzerland, and the world, and it was over. Chilling.

Many thankx to the Swiss National Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Anon
Frozen Lake Biel
1941
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Using boats to transport wood and stone on Lake Lugano
1940
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Swimming lessons for schoolchildren at the Wollishofen lakeside swimming area, Zurich
1943
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Walter Diggelmann repairs a tyre during the Tour de Suisse
1950
© Swiss National Museum

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“For the first time, the Swiss National Museum in Zurich presents its extensive archive of press photographs. The exhibition looks at recent Swiss history from the perspective of the press photographer and reveals how, in the second half of the 20th century, press photography developed into the photojournalism we know today.

Housed in three original pavilions by the designer and engineer Jean Prouvé from the 1940s, C’est la vie includes meticulously composed photographs depicting political events, episodes from everyday life, unforgettable moments, candid pictures of well-known personalities and portraits of everyday heroes. It also shows how the extensive photo reportages of the early years were superseded by individual snapshots – initially still in black and white, then in colour. New methods of image transfer and printing technologies enabled ever-increasing numbers of up-to-the-minute photos to appear in the daily press. From the 1960s onwards, the illustrated weekly press went into decline. The exhibition illustrates this process by juxtaposing an analogue picture agency from the 1940s with its present-day digital counterpart.

In 2006 the Swiss National Museum acquired the archives of the press photo agencies Presse Diffusion Lausanne and Actualité Suisse Lausanne, which together comprise millions of negatives, paper prints and transparencies from 1940 (foundation of PDL) to 2000 (closure of ASL). The archives are an ideal complement to the photographs taken by private individuals that previously formed the core of the Swiss National Museum’s photography collection. An examination of the archives soon revealed a wealth of treasures. The diversity, breadth and aesthetic quality of the photographic material are remarkable and exceptional. The new holdings will also be an invaluable source of visual material for the Swiss National Museum’s research activities.”

Press release from the Swiss National Museum website

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Anon
Two brothers in the Rhine harbour at Kleinhüningen, Basel
c. 1939
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Passenger in the dining car of the “Compagnie Suisse des Wagons-Restaurants”‘
c. 1940
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Elderly lady in a restaurant, Lausanne
1959
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Italian guest workers arriving in Switzerland
1956
© Swiss National Museum

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Swiss National Museum
Landesmuseum Zürich
Museumstrasse 2
8021 Zurich
T:  +41 (0)44 218 65 11

Opening hours:
Tue – Sun 10 am – 5 pm
On Thursdays the museum is open until 7 pm.

Swiss National Museum website

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08
Apr
12

Exhibition: ‘Karlheinz Weinberger: Intimate Stranger’ at Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum for Gegenwartskunst

Exhibition dates: 21st January – 15th April 2012

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Another relatively unknown artist, people whose work I like promoting on this blog. I certainly had never heard of this photographer. A self-taught part-time photographer who worked as a warehouseman most of his life, Weinberger published photographs in the homosexual magazine “Der Kreis,” the same early gay magazine that George Platt Lynes submitted photographs to in the last stages of his life.

While their might seem to be a dichotomy between the desirous photographs of male youth and the city toughs and “rowdies” gay men have always been drawn to rough trade: from Oscar Wilde who was more sexually drawn towards the swarthy young rough trade to contemporary iconography of gay skinheads and punks, still a prevalent culture in London for example. Tattoos, shaved heads, braces, Docs – in Weinberger’s case rockabillies. Notice how in the photograph of the male reclining with candlestick, the form of the candlestick mimics the spidery tattoo on the hand in the photograph above. Notice also how the crouching nude lad looks almost identical to the lad in the photograph below, with his hands thrust into his pockets emphasising the crutch area. And the earlier crutch photograph with the mating of Elvis and Vince over a skull and cross bones which has delicious, subversive homosocial overtones. Toughs or not, there is always the desire for the dangerous and different.

Many thankx to the Kunstmuseum Basel for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Hardau, Zürich
1962
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
50.7 x 58 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Knabenschiessen, Albisgütli, Zürich
1961
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
50.5 x 60.5 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Fisherman with Hut, Sicily
ca. 1960
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
18.5 x 24 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Drei zusammen (three together)
ca. 1965
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
50 x 53.5 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Untitled, Zürich
ca. 1962
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
23.8 x 30.4 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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The exhibition presents the rarely shown work of the photographer Karlheinz Weinberger (1921–2006). Together with magazines and a selection of vintage apparel, the pictures document a youth culture in Zurich that emerged after World War II whose members sought to subvert contemporary notions of “Swiss correctness.”

Weinberger spent the largest part of his life working as a warehouseman for Siemens-Albis in Zurich. In his free time, he was a self-taught photographer, portraying his lovers and people he met in the street. From the late 1940s on, he frequently published his pictures in “Der Kreis,” a homosexual magazine produced in Zurich from 1943 until 1967 that garnered international attention, pseudonymously signing his work as “Jim.” In 1958, he launched a major project for which he would photograph a group of teenagers, the city’s so-called “Halbstarke,” over an extended period of time. Weinberger’s unfailingly respectful approach allowed him to capture the non-conformism of these “rowdies” with regard to social convention and their play with stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, most readily evident in the way they dressed.

Wearing embroidered denim jackets and oversized belt buckles adorned with the likenesses of idols such as Elvis or James Dean, Weinberger’s adolescent subjects present themselves to his camera in public settings like members of a gang. Photographs such as those taken at the Knabenschiessen, a target shooting competition held at Zurich’s Albisgüetli, show them sprawling on the ground between fairground stalls and compact vans, illustrating the “Halbstarke”‘s refusal to fit in with the traditions surrounding this Zurich folk festival. In addition to the photographs in public settings, Weinberger also took pictures in the improvised studio in his living room. Scantily clad, some of his subjects, mostly young men, strike confident poses showing off their denim shorts and hats, while others cower, their eyes glancing at the camera with a vulnerable expression. Weinberger’s role is that of an Intimate Stranger: he records the attitudes of a generation and its marginal social position in unvarnished pictures and develops the photographs capturing the objects of his fascination in his own photo laboratory.

In an oeuvre that spanned many years, Weinberger portrayed what lay behind the curtains of 1960s bourgeois Switzerland, finding ways to document deviancy without ever putting his protagonists on display.”

Press release from the Kunstmuseum Basel website

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Untitled
ca. 1969
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
30.4 x 23.8 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Untitled
ca. 1961
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
24 x 18 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Untitled
ca. 1960
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
39 x 29 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Zürich am Limmatquai
1962
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
30 x 24 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Milchbuck, Zürich
ca. 1962
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
60.5 x 49 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Kunstmuseum Basel
St. Alban-Graben 16
CH-4010 Basel
T: 0041 (0)61 206 62 62

Opening hours:
Tue – Sun 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Closed on Monday

Kunstmuseum Basel website

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29
Jan
11

Exhibition: ‘Forced Labour. The Germans, the Forced Labourers and the War’ at the Jewish Museum, Berlin

Exhibition dates: 28th September 2010 – 30th January 2011

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This is an emotional and sobering posting. The photograph of the ‘Liberated forced laborer with tuberculosis’ by an unknown photographer (1945, below) is as heartbreaking as the photograph of a mother and child, ‘Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath, Minamata’ (1972) by Eugene Smith. The look on the man’s face when I first saw it made me burst into tears… it is difficult to talk about it now without being overcome. An unknown man photographed by an unknown photographer.
There is something paradoxical about the solidity of the doctor’s steel helmet, his uniform and the fact he is a doctor contrasted with the strength, size and gentleness of his hand as it rests near the elbow of this emaciated man, this human … yet the intimacy and tenderness of this gesture, as the man stares straight into the camera lens – is so touching that to look at this picture, is almost unbearable. Man’s (in)humanity to man.

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Some pertinent facts.

The Germans abducted about 12 million people from almost twenty European countries; about two thirds of whom came from Eastern Europe. Many workers died as a result of their living conditions, mistreatment or were civilian casualties of the war. They received little or no compensation during or after the war … At the peak of the war, one of every five workers in the economy of the Third Reich was a forced laborer. According to Fried, in January 1944 the Third Reich was relying on 10 million forced laborers. Of these, 6.5 million were civilians within German borders, 2.2 million were prisoners of war, and 1.3 million were located at forced labor camps outside Germany’s borders. Homze reported that civilian forced laborers from other countries working within the German borders rose steeply from 300,000 in 1939 to more than 5 million in 1944.

Examples:

Russian Foreign Civilian Forced Laborers in Nazi Germany (total number approximately):               2,000,000

Russian Number of Known and Estimated Survivors Reported by Reconciliation Foundations:            334,500

(Source: Beyer, John C. and Schneider, Stephen A. “Forced Labour under Third Reich – Part 1” (pdf). Nathan Associates Inc.. 1999.

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Russian “volunteer” POW workers

“Between 22 June 1941 and the end of the war, roughly 5.7 million members of the Red Army fell into German hands. In January 1945, 930,000 were still in German camps. A million at most had been released, most of whom were so-called “volunteer” (Hilfswillige) for (often compulsory) auxiliary service in the Wehrmacht. Another 500,000, as estimated by the Army High Command, had either fled or been liberated. The remaining 3,300,000 (57.5 percent of the total) had perished.”

(Source: Streit, Christian. Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die Sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen, 1941-1945, Bonn: Dietz (3. Aufl., 1. Aufl. 1978))

The remaining 3,300,000 had perished. A sobering figure indeed (if you can even imagine such a number of human beings).

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Many thankx to the Jewish Museum in Berlin for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photograph for a larger version of the image.

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Unknown
‘Liberated forced laborer with tuberculosis’
1945

A doctor of the U.S. Army examines a former forced laborer from Russia who was ill with tuberculosis. The Americans had discovered the sick forced laborers in a barrack yard in Dortmund. Dortmund, 30 April 1945. Source: National Archives, Washington

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G. Gronfeld
‘Registration at the transit camp’
1942

Berlin-Wilhelmshagen Transit Camp, December 1942. Labor office staff registered the forced laborers and handed out employment certificates. Source: Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

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G. Gronfeld
‘Arrival at the transit camp’
1942

Female forced laborers from the Soviet Union on their arrival at the Berlin-Wilhelmshagen Transit Camp, December 1942. Source: Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

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Unknown
‘Humiliation of Bernhard Kuhnt in Chemnitz’
nd

The inscription, “Always dignified! The naval fleet’s mutineer Bernh. Kuhnt arrives at his new workplace (washing off the dirt),” refers to the myth that mutinous social democratic and communist sailors were responsible for the defeat of the German empire in the First World War. Source: Bundesarchiv, Koblenz

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Unknown
‘Selection in a Prisoner of War Camp: Recruitment for Mining’
1942

In the summer of 1942, Soviet prisoners of war were selected from the prisoner of war camp Zeithain to perform forced labor in Belgian mines. Source: Gedenkstätte Ehrenhain Zeithain

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Selection in a Prisoner of War Camp

In the summer of 1942, Karl Schmitt – head of the Wehrmacht mining division in Liège, Belgium – went to Berlin on vacation with his wife. On the way, he visited the Zeithain prisoner of war camp in Saxony. The Soviet POWs were ordered to present themselves for inspection with the aim of deploying them to Belgian mines under German control. They were accordingly checked for physical fitness. Karl Schmitt decided who was to be transported to Belgium and who was not.

Soviet prisoners of war were frequently put to work in mines. The Reich Security Main Office had ruled that they could be employed only in work gangs kept separate from German workers. The authorities considered the mines particularly suitable in that respect. Source: Gedenkstätte Ehrenhain Zeithain.

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“Over 20 million men, women, and children were taken to Germany and the occupied territories from all over Europe as “foreign workers,” prisoners of war, and concentration camp inmates to perform forced labor. By 1942, forced laborers were part of daily life in Nazi Germany. The deported workers from all over Europe and Eastern Europe in particular were exploited in armament factories, on building sites and farms, as craftsmen, in public institutions and private households. Be it as a soldier of the occupying army in Poland or as a farmer in Thuringia, all Germans encountered forced laborers and many profited from them. Forced labor was no secret but a largely public crime.

The exhibition “Forced Labor. The Germans, the Forced Laborers, and the War” on view at the Jewish Museum in Berlin provides the first comprehensive presentation of the history of forced labor and its ramifications after 1945. The exhibition was curated by the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation and initiated and sponsored by the “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” Foundation. Federal President Christian Wulff has assumed patronage for the exhibition. The exhibition’s first venue on its international tour is the Jewish Museum Berlin, other venues are planned in European capitals and in North America.

Forced labor was without precedent in European history. No other Nazi crime involved so many people – as victims, perpetrators, or onlookers. The exhibition provides the first comprehensive presentation of the history of this ubiquitous Nazi crime and its ramifications after 1945. It shows how forced labor was part of the Nazi regime’s racist social order from the outset: The propagated “Volksgemeinschaft” (people’s community) and forced labor for the excluded belonged together. The German “Herrenmenschen” (superior race) ruthlessly exploited those they considered “Untermenschen” (subhumans). The ordinariness and the broad societal participation of forced labor reflect the racist core of Nazism.

The exhibition pays special attention to the relationships between Germans and forced laborers. Every German had to decide whether to treat forced laborers with a residual trace of humanity or with the supposedly required racist frostiness and implacability of a member of an allegedly superior race. How Germans made use of the scope this framework reveals something not only about the individuals but also about the allure and shaping power of Nazi ideology and practice. Through this perspective, the exhibition goes beyond a presentation of forced labor in the narrow sense to illustrate the extent to which Nazi values had infiltrated German society. Forced labor cannot be passed off as a mere crime of the regime but should rather be considered a crime of society.

Over 60 representative case histories form the core of the exhibition. As is true of the majority of documents on show, they resulted from meticulous investigations in Europe, the USA, and Israel. Moreover the exhibition team viewed hundreds of interviews with former forced laborers that have been carried out in recent years. In terms of content, these case histories range from the degrading work of the politically persecuted in Chemnitz through the murderous slave labor performed by Jews in occupied Poland to daily life as a forced laborer on a farm in Lower Austria.

Among the surprises of the extensive international archival research was discovering unexpectedly broad photographic coverage of significant events. The photos relating to the case histories represent the second pillar of the exhibition. Whole series of photos were traced back to their creator and the scene and people depicted. This presentation, based on well-founded sources, allows quasi dramatic insight into aspects of forced labor. Cinematically arranged photo or photo-detail enlargements form the introduction to the continued inquiry into the history of forced labor.

The exhibition is divided into four sections. The first covers the years from 1933 to 1939 and unveils in particular how the racist ideology of Nazi forced labor struck roots. What was propagated up to the beginning of WWII, partly laid down in laws and widely implemented by society in practice, formed the basis for the subsequent radicalization of forced labor in occupied Europe culminating in extermination through labor. This escalation and radicalization is the focus of the second section of the exhibition. The third part covers forced labor as a mass phenomenon in the Third Reich from 1941/42, ending with the massacre of forced laborers at the end of the war. The fourth section explores the period from the time of liberation in 1945 to society’s analysis and recognition of forced labor as a crime today. Former forced laborers have the last word.”

Press release from The Jewish Museum website.
Forced Labor exhibition website

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Unknown
‘Daimler facility in Minsk’
1942

Female forced laborers of the Daimler facility in Minsk, September 1942. Source: Mercedes-Benz Classic, Archive, Stuttgart

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Minsk: German firms in occupied Eastern Europe

In Minsk, a town which had suffered major destruction, Daimler-Benz ran a large repair facility for motorized Wehrmacht vehicles. Together, Daimler and Organisation Todt set up more than thirty repair sheds on the grounds of a ruined military base. With a workforce of five thousand, the facility was soon one of the largest enterprises in occupied Eastern Europe. The management exploited prisoners of war and members of the local population, among them Jews. Laborers were also deported from White Russian villages to the Minsk works as part of the effort to crush the partisan movement.

In the occupied areas of Eastern Europe, many German companies took advantage of the opportunity to take over local firms or establish branch operations. The unlimited availability of laborers was an important factor in their business strategies.

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Unknown
‘Foreign workers at BMW in Allach’
c. 1943

All the foreigners in aircraft engine production had to be visibly identifiable as such. The Soviet prisoners of war had the “SU” symbol on their jackets. Concentration camp inmates could be recognized by their striped uniforms. These photographs were most likely propaganda photos. Munich-Allach, ca. 1943. Source: BMW Group Archiv.

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Munich-Allach: Working for BMW

Toward the end of the war ninety percent of the workforce at the largest aircraft engine factory in the German Reich – BMW’s plant in Munich-Allach – consisted of foreign civilian workers, POWs and concentration camp inmates. The number of workers had risen from 1,000 in 1939 to more than 17,000 in 1944.

Forced laborers worked not only in the assembly halls, but also on the factory’s expansion. Due to BMW’s importance to the armament industry, the authorities gave it priority over other companies in the assignment of workers. Nevertheless, its personnel demand was never completely met.

Some of the Western European workers lived in private quarters. For all others, barrack camps were set up all around the factory grounds until 1944, ultimately accommodating 14,000 people. That figure included several thousand concentration camp inmates which the company management had applied for already in 1942.

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Unknown
‘KZ-prisoners on the industrial union color building site, Auschwitz’
c. 1943
Source: © Bundesarchiv, Koblenz

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Unkown
‘Liberated Jewish women’
1945

These young Jewish women were released from a forced labor camp at Kauritz (Saxony) by U.S. Army troops in early April, 1945. They are part of a large group removed from homes in France, Holland, Belgium and other occupied areas in Europe. Source: National Archives, Washington

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Unknown
‘Wladyslaw Kolopoleski’
nd

“In addition to the hard work, which exceeded my strength, I was beaten on the slightest provocation, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. Once, for example, I suffered a severe head injury after I was beaten by Max Ewert, an SA officer. I not only lost consciousness, but I had to have head surgery,” wrote Władysław Kołopoleski, a young Pole born in Łódź in 1932. He was deployed in April 1940 on the estate of mayor Max Ewert in Gervin, now Górawino, in Pomerania. Source: Foundation “Polish-German Reconciliation,” Warsaw

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Jewish Museum Berlin
Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
T: +49 (0)30 259 93 300

Opening Hours:
Monday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Admittance will be granted until 7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, 9 p.m. on Monday.

The Jewish Museum website

Forced Labor exhibition website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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