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WWII in Photos: 900 extraordinary photos / 20 part series (43 languages)


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#21 Anthony

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 22:25

Damian, you make a good point. I had looked at many of the photos, including the deeply distressing holocaust pictures, but not the Battle of Britain images until I read your post.

It is interesting that the Battle of Britain pictures are very much victim photos, not showing any respect to the men who actually saved the world from Nazi barbarism. You have to ask about the motivation of the people who excluded photos of the few. It is not as if such photos do not exist.

#22 Larry

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 06:13

There is something that strikes me as curious, but perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised. I'm British, and I am quite disappointed by the "Battle of Britain" group of photos. The facts stand up for themselves; the story portrayed by the pictures is one of sitting out attacks and waiting to be rescued. I don't propose to get into a discussion about it except to say that the unbalanced account in a section about which I have learned a lot makes me quite cautious about just how partisan the selection of pictures has been to tell the story that was desired rather than any sort of proportional representation of the facts as they occurred. Try putting "Battle of Britain" into google images and see what comes up; I am very surprised that such an effort yields a set of pictures entirely (entirely!) different in content to the set in this group.

It's a small niggle, but I am disappointed at the lack of representation of our "finest hour", to quote Winston Churchill. I don't know if it's wilful or accidental but my disappointment needed stating aloud.

Damian

Hi Damian,

As one who is very intimately familiar with the Battle of Britain, I fully understand your disappointment . But perhaps I can provide another perspective from one who participated in this historic event.

During one of the recent celebration of this event, I came across a video interview of one of the many Poles who were forced to flee Poland early in the war and who fought along with other Poles as part of the RAF. Though his group's participation in the Battle of Britain was initially limited due to its being "in-training" status, some members of his group lost their lives when they eventually joined their Squadron in the latter phase of this air-battle campaign. Like many other Poles who served in the RAF, he served until the end of the war. One would thus think that the Poles have earned their place whenever the Battle of Britain is celebrated. Yet even until that date of the video interview (2010 if I recall correctly), the few surviving Polish pilots were continually refused a place in the parade. Despite this, he went to the celebration as an un-honored and unrecognized visitor as he believed that it may well be his last opportunity to do so. It was heart-breaking and so sad to see and hear him but I was awed when he said that he would do the same all over again even if he knew what would happen in the future.

This bit of reference will help to shed some light on the participation of the Polish pilots as well as non-British pilots during this battle:

http://en.wikipedia....sh_contribution

Larry

Edited by Larry, 12 March 2012 - 08:41 .


#23 yunfat

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 06:23

It was heart-breaking and so sad to see and hear him but I was awed when he said that he would do the same all over again even if he knew what would happen in the future.


The British have a long history of this, just ask a Welshman, a Ghurka, or this guy.

#24 Anthony

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:20

Larry, this discussion is about photographs, their quality, content, significance and selection. It is not helpful to anyone to widen it with incomplete accounts of controversial political events. Yunfat's offensive remarks show the dangers of this.

Yunfat, please keep your political prejudices to yourself. We could all make offensive comments about one another's countries, but that would be pointless and destructive. I refer you to the wise words of Scott's postscript above.

#25 M4cr0s

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 18:31

Larry, this discussion is about photographs, their quality, content, significance and selection. It is not helpful to anyone to widen it with incomplete accounts of controversial political events. Yunfat's offensive remarks show the dangers of this.

Yunfat, please keep your political prejudices to yourself. We could all make offensive comments about one another's countries, but that would be pointless and destructive. I refer you to the wise words of Scott's postscript above.


In Yunfats defense, I don't think that his comment was offensive. Historical facts are what they are, we just have to accept them and try not to do the same thing again.

Mac

"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this years fashions."

Lillian Hellman


#26 yunfat

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 19:30

Yunfat, please keep your political prejudices to yourself.


If you have a problem with Rudyard Kipling I am happy to take this discussion private.

#27 Anthony

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 10:13

If you have a problem with Rudyard Kipling I am happy to take this discussion private.



I certainly do not have a problem with Kipling, a fine writer who is sadly under appreciated today.

#28 crowecg

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 21:36

Historical facts are what they are......


But what are historical "facts"? Most news media has an agenda of some kind and usually only represents one point of view. Perhaps in the US, the 'Battle of Britain' pictures are what Americans consider to be the 'Battle of Britain', but in Britain, they would generally be conisdered to be more representative of the 'Blitz', which occured at the end of the period of aerial warfare for the dominance of the skies over England, which is considered in the UK to be the 'Battle of Britain'. Perhaps it is just another captioning error?

#29 Coreopsis

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 16:19

But what are historical "facts"? Most news media has an agenda of some kind and usually only represents one point of view. Perhaps in the US, the 'Battle of Britain' pictures are what Americans consider to be the 'Battle of Britain', but in Britain, they would generally be conisdered to be more representative of the 'Blitz', which occured at the end of the period of aerial warfare for the dominance of the skies over England, which is considered in the UK to be the 'Battle of Britain'. Perhaps it is just another captioning error?


Picture #30, in the "Battle of Britain" series shows a small boy holding a stuffed animal. The caption reads : An abandoned boy, holding a stuffed toy animal amid ruins following a German aerial bombing of London in 1940. (Toni Frissell/LOC)

The picture is in the Library of Congress (LOC) catalogue here. The caption reads : Abandoned boy holding a stuffed toy animal amid ruins following German aerial bombing of London. The title was created by LOC, not the photographer. There is no reference to 1940. Indeed, LOC notes : Date Created/Published: 1945. So where does the reference to 1940 come from ?

The picture appears to be one of a series entitled Civilian life in bombed London, England . Some of these have been publshed and relate to scenes following V-2 attacks in 1945 (links available if you can't find them). I can't find them all - they appear to exist only as contact sheets. (Any help navigating the LOC woould be apreciated). However someone has extracted at least one of these pictures. It's found in a blog called Iconic photos. We see the same picture of the boy sitting in the rubble with his toy animal and then another picture of the boy sitting on pile of wood this time without the toy. So what have we got here ? War reporting or a fashion shoot. Frissell was a well known fashion photographer and lots of pictures place her in Sun Valley shooting for Vogue in 1940. The NY Times obituary indicates that her first involvement with the war was in 1941 with the Red Cross.

I've no idea when Picture #30 was taken. But it's not clear that it's a true representaion of the Battle of Britain in 1940. Another Captioning Error ? Maybe. Or maybe a case of creative editing designed to tell a particular story.
John

#30 crowecg

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:18

We see the same picture of the boy sitting in the rubble with his toy animal and then another picture of the boy sitting on pile of wood this time without the toy. So what have we got here ? War reporting or a fashion shoot.....


...I've no idea when Picture #30 was taken. But it's not clear that it's a true representaion of the Battle of Britain in 1940. Another Captioning Error ? Maybe. Or maybe a case of creative editing designed to tell a particular story.


I guess this is the risk for historians as we start to rely on photographic images as historical documents. It becomes hard to seperate shots which are real from those which are posed - particularly if any accompanying documentation is lost. Once those present die, how will we know if he was a genuine abandoned kid wandering the rubble or young model who recieved sixpence and cuddly toy for his trouble.


Perhaps as an interesting aside, I found it interesting to read some books a little while ago about Frank Hurley's time as a war photographer and the arguements between the photographers and also with the officials employing them over staging or manipulation of photos. I'm sure a lot of people here are well aware of the limitations of film photography and can easliy guess at how much greater they were in the early part of the 20th century. But would you realise that a number of classic WWI shots were in fact montages (particularly when trying to achieve what is currently called HDR).

#31 JM The Chicagoan

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:44

The duplicity you noticed examplifies the definition of propaganda. As you said it is not worthy of discussion strickly on this situation but the issue is one that in the context of the photo 'essay' should be explored.
The photo narrative was done (assembled, edited) by an ancient war machine of USA construct and represented the attitudes and drives the USA wished to promote. The overall image of the smaller photos was chosen (whether with full forethought or merely a mental distortion from a group mind conceptualization) was of the USA as defender, protector and hero while the rest of the world were players in the great heroic epic that the USA held the lead role.
This does illustrate the power of the image and the overreraching power of the manipulation of the image. Here in the USA we still deal with the mindset of USA as hero protector of all that is good and right (just ask the righteous opposition in the current election cycle) and the force of our misapplication of that mindset is currently splashed across the journals of the world.
OOooops I fear I wax politic and this post may be taken out of context to the point of exclusion but the crux of the matter is these images hold tremendous power, to shock, to illuminate and when controlled to meld as 'one' sees fit.
Even as these images reach the age where few remember the reality in person they hold the thrall to influence the minds of those exposed to them and if the content is formed and layed out with skillful art they can influence the minds of people that never knew the reality but form their own reality by the slant of the information the photos convey.
Sorry I am sure that despite my attempts to balance this discourse with a PC outlook I am certain I've failed and made my own philosiphy clear....sorry if I offended anyone but this too is a sign of the power of the image.
Jeff
The Chicagoan...born a decade late to see the war AFTER the 'War to end all Wars'
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