© Walter Henisch, 1941-44, World War II, Balkan

Having begun his professional life as a press photographer, Walter Henisch experienced the high point of his career as a war reporter and propaganda photographer of the German Wehrmacht. He photographed the most important war scenes in Poland, Russia and Germany, among others. Especially his images of the Russian campaign and the war in the Balkans were widely reproduced in the contemporary press.

His son, Peter Henisch, based an insightful novel on his father’s life story, dealing with his father’s work for the Nazi regime, but also his relationship with the ruling system. Henisch himself always insisted on his neutral attitude as a photo reporter, no matter who commissioned his work – claiming he took photographs without judging, interested only in good pictures, not in events themselves.

He was a war photographer par excellence, always suspended masterfully within the field of tension between being a direct witness of the horrors of war and his role as a supposedly invisible observer, always ready to shoot a picture at the right moment. (+)

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Shōmei Tōmatsu, one of Japan’s foremost twentieth-century photographers, created one of the defining portraits of postwar Japan. Beginning with his meditation on the devastation caused by the atomic bombs in 11:02 Nagasaki, Tomatsu continued to focus on the tensions between traditional Japanese culture and the growing westernization of the nation in his seminal book Nihon.

Beginning in the late 1950s, Tomatsu committed to photographing as many of the American military bases in Japan as possible. Tomatsu’s photographs focused on the seismic impact of the American victory and occupation: uniformed American soldiers carousing in red-light districts with Japanese women; foreign children at play in seedy landscapes, home to American forces; and the emerging protest formed in response to the ongoing American military presence. He originally named this series Occupation, but later retitled it Chewing Gum and Chocolate to reflect the handouts given to Japanese kids by the soldiers—sugary and addictive, but ultimately lacking in nutritional value.

And although many of his most iconic images are from this series, this work has never before been gathered together in a single volume. Leo Rubinfien contributes an essay that engages with Tomatsu’s ambivalence toward the American occupation and the shifting national identity of Japan. Also included in this volume are never-before-translated writings by Tomatsu from the 1960s and ’70s, providing context for both the artist’s original intentions and the sociopolitical thinking of the time. (+)

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© Wolf Strache, Nov. 23, 1943, Berlin Kurfürstendamm

Wolf Strache considered this iconic image taken during WWII one of his best photographs and it has become a symbol of that time. The original negative was confiscated shortly after its production and Strache made another negative in the 1970s with which he made later prints. The sign advertising the film Reise in die Vergangenheit (Trip to the Past) makes the image all the more poignant. (+)

Wolf Strache was born in Greifswald in 1910 and lived in Stuttgart until his death in 2001. In 1934 he completed a study of economics in Munich. Subsequently, he worked as a freelance photo journalist in Berlin for magazines like 'Die neue Linie'; as from 1936, he also published illustrated volumes about Germany’s landscapes. He taught himself photography.

From 1932 to 1942 he worked in the photographic archives and picture service of the Reich’s Foreign Office. Afterwards, as a war reporter, he heroized the German air force in his photographs – complying with the spirit of Nazi propaganda entirely. He produced his most famous shot of a woman wearing a gas mask pushing a pram through a landscape of ruins in the destroyed city of Berlin.

After the war, he began to work in Stuttgart as a freelance photo journalist. As from 1951 he published the series “Die schönen Bücher” about landscapes, art and nature, and he also brought out the year book “Das Deutsche Lichtbild” from 1955 to 1975. He was presented with the Cultural Award of the DGPh (Deutsche Gesellschaft der Photographie) in 1979. (+)

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© Zdeněk Tmej, 1940s, Broken Glasses, Breslau, Poland

This photograph was first published in the book  ’Abeceda - Dusevniho Prazdna' (The Alphabet of Spiritual Emptiness), in which Tmej portrays the experience of captivity in a Nazi forced labor camp, from a rare captive's perspective, through images loaded with furtiveness and despair.

I updated an older post about this interesting book (or let’s better call it: ‘piece of history’) with more pictures and information (you can also find the answer to the question about the unusual hue of these photos there). You can find it here.

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© Margaret Bourke-White, ca. 1945, Sheep in a bombed out hangar in Leipzig

This picture says so much about war and war games people play. We stupid animals. Stupid.

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From the horrors of war to the complexities of childhood, Wayne Miller has captured intimate moments of life on film for over 50 years.

To photograph mankind and explain man to man — that was how legendary photographer Wayne Miller described his decades-long drive to document the myriad subjects gracing his work. Miller passed away Wednesday at the age of 94 at his home in California. Read an obituary on him on TIME LightBox.

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Unknown photographer, 1938, Berggasse 19, Vienna

This is the place where Sigmund Freud had his psychoanalytical practice. This house in the Alsergrund district, at Berggasse 19, was newly built when Freud moved here in 1891. The previous building on the site, once the home of Austrian politician Victor Adler (founder of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party - SDAP), had been torn down. In 1938, the same year this photograph was taken, Freud was forced to leave German-annexed Austria due to his Jewish ancestry, and fled to London.

I recently walked by that place with my Indian friend Priyanka who visited Vienna for a few days. She’s leaving Austrian sky right now: It was good seeing you! Say hello to Delhi from me, and greets to your family & the taxi driver of course, I forgot his name AGAIN… one day I’ll tell my followers the story of that one helluva night, be prepared!

© Heinrich Hoffmann, late 1920s, Hitler posing to a recording of one of his speeches

Adolf Hitler (1889–1945), leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), strikes a pose for photographer Heinrich Hoffmann whilst listening to a recording of his own speeches. These photographs taken reveal how Adolf Hitler rehearsed his hand gestures for his public speeches. He used to ask Hoffmann to take pictures of these so he could see what he would look like to the German people, as one of Hitler’s greatest and most well-known skills was his public speaking, which he used to his advantage to emphasise his notion of a "great national revival" of Germany.

Once he saw them, he would vet the pictures and decide whether to incorporate the various animated movements in his engagements. Hitler later banned them from being published for being "beneath one’s dignity". But the photos, which were never intended to be seen, survived the war. The vetoed photos were stored in Hoffmann’s studio until his arrest at the end of the war, whereupon they disappeared into various archives.

They were later published in his little-known memoir, “Hitler Was My Friend”, in the 1950s and have now been released in English to be seen by the general public. They capture the meticulous training Hitler undertook to perfect his famous speeches, and give a rare insight into his vanity and controlling personality. (more photos and info here: +, +, +)  

© Klaus Pichler, 2013, Mrs. Pollak, remembering the brother she lost in World War II

This photograph by my Austrian colleague Klaus Pichler is part of the project Someone I Know, curated by Stuart Pilkington. It brings together some of the best known emerged and emerging photographers from across the globe.

The brief for the photographers was to take a portrait of someone they know, no matter how loosely. The results were published on someoneiknow.net on 2nd April 2013. (+)

© Alfred Eisenstaedt, Sep. 1933, Joseph Goebbels, ‘Eyes Of Hate’

In September 1933, LIFE magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt traveled to Geneva to document a meeting of the League of Nations. One of the political figures at the gathering was Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitlers most devout underlings and a man who became known for his “homicidal anti-Semitism.”

Goebbels soon learned of the Jewish blood flowing through Eisenstaedt’s veins. Subsequently, when Eisenstaedt approached Goebbels for a candid portrait, the politician scowled for the camera, and the famous photo that resulted shows the man wearing “eyes of hate”.

Here’s what Eisenstaedt later shared regarding experience:

"I found him sitting alone at a folding table on the lawn of the hotel. I photographed him from a distance without him being aware of it. As documentary reportage, the picture may have some value: it suggests his aloofness. Later I found him at the same table surrounded by aides and bodyguards. Goebbels seemed so small, while his bodyguards were huge. I walked up close and photographed Goebbels.

It was horrible. He looked up at me with an expression full of hate. The result, however, was a much stronger photograph. There is no substitute for close personal contact and involvement with a subject, no matter how unpleasant it may be. (…) He looked at me with hateful eyes and waited for me to wither. But I didn’t wither. If I have a camera in my hand, I don’t know fear.” (read more)

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