Via Wolf Blitzer, CNN
Just in time, “Memories of War,” a photo exhibit by the Associated Press opens at Union Station, in Washington, D.C. today and will run through June 1.
And no, no images from Iraq in this collection. All of these images are from World War II. Should give us some perspective of how we have chosen to record and remember our past. Which images will grace the walls of future exhibits from the mess in Iraq?
World War II archival photos in exhibit
The Associated Press displays images long-hidden as the new WWII memorial nears its dedication.
NEW YORK – As veterans of World War II converge on Washington for the dedication of a memorial to global victory six decades ago, their achievements and sacrifice will be further recalled in an exhibit of photographs from the archives of The Associated Press.
“Memories of World War II” opens to the public Monday at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station, a week before the National World War II Memorial is ceremonially christened on the Mall.
The AP exhibit is a spectrum of more than 100 photos from all theaters of the war and the home front, ranging from AP photographer Joe Rosenthal’s classic Iwo Jima flag-raising in 1945 to scores of pictures not seen in decades.
“As far as we know, all of the pictures were transmitted at some time on AP wires, but some probably have not been touched since the war,” said Charles Zoeller, curator of the exhibit and an accompanying book, and chief of AP’s vast photo library.
Founded in 1848, the AP is the world’s oldest and largest news-gathering organization, serving some 15,000 media outlets in more than 120 countries.
In the exhibit, familiar scenes of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, along with British and American troops hitting Normandy beaches on D-Day and marching through newly liberated Paris, are juxtaposed with hidden surprises sure to evoke strong memories among older Americans.
There are photographs of Hitler and Mussolini at the peak of fascist power, Winston Churchill in unmistakable silhouette, actor James Stewart being inducted into the military, Nazi SS troops herding defiant Jews after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, and Russian women laying flowers at the feet of four dead GIs who helped liberate them from a slave labor camp.
Despite censorship that delayed the release of pictures and restricted caption information, the wartime cameras recorded dramatic close-ups of power and pathos, the leaders and the lost.
President Franklin Roosevelt, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and Churchill sit for a group portrait at Tehran. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth clamber through London bomb rubble. Gen. Douglas McArthur wades ashore in the Philippines.
In Cherbourg, France, Army Capt. Earl Topley gazes at a German soldier sitting, dead, in a doorway. Dead Japanese soldiers lie half-buried in sand on a Guadalcanal beach; dead U.S. Marines sprawl in the volcanic ash of Iwo Jima.
In the foreword to a book that has 170 photographs and also is titled “Memories of World War II” (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.), former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole says the pictures have greater impact for being in black and white.
“The causes and objectives of the United States and our Allies in World War II were just that – black and white, good against evil,” writes Dole, who was severely wounded in Italy in 1945.
The photos are “personal history relived” for those who fought the war and millions more for whom it was “part of their lives,” Dole writes. “For many millions more, the postwar generations, who know the war only as distant history, these images will serve as the record of a shared and shaping era in our nation’s history.”
Many photos credit AP staff photographers by name; others came from anonymous Army or Navy photographers. Some were killed in combat; others went on to postwar prominence in their craft.
“You had the same fears as the GIs, but you had to think about the picture,” says retired AP photojournalist Max Desfor, who covered the battle of Okinawa and Japan’s surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri, and later won a Pulitzer Prize in Korea. “My camera was my shield, and I didn’t even think about the idea that a bullet might hit me.”
In an introduction to the book, retired CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite praises the courage of journalists who shared danger with the troops.
“Indeed, if there were no correspondents or photographers who went to war, what would the folks at home know … what would future generations know?” wrote Cronkite, who covered the war for AP’s then-rival, United Press.
The AP exhibit in Union Station’s West Hall runs through the Memorial Day weekend. It will be back up in Union Station for the month of July, before traveling to the Dallas Historical Society and other venues around the country.