What this picture reveals about the end of the war
Status: 1:28 p.m. | Reading time: 3 minutes
The Nazis lost, but they are still there. Some are exposed. The later Magnum photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson captured a famous scene in May 1945. Now a book tells about its use.
DGermany after the end of the war, May 1945. In Dessau, on the banks of the Elbe and Mulde, Soviets and Americans control the flow of refugees. This is where ex-forced laborers, prisoners of war, concentration camp survivors, displaced persons of all kinds meet: millions of people are traveling through liberated Germany.
Displaced Russians, Poles and Balts want to go east. French and hundreds of thousands of Belgians, Dutch and Italians move west and south from the areas liberated by the Soviet Army. And everyone has to cross the Elbe at Dessau, over which there were only a few makeshift bridges after the war.
In the chaos of the transit camps, civilian Nazi henchmen and Nazi spies are also trying to submerge. Sometimes they are unmasked like the informer who is at the warehouse manager’s table for identity verification and is unmasked by a French woman from the crowd at the same time: “I recognize this woman! She is a Belgian, informant of the Gestapo. ”The Allies now have historical merit to organize right to revenge.
How do you tell about the state of emergency? Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 to 2004), the Frenchman who also painted and filmed and was a co-founder of the Magnum photo agency, wanted to capture situations at the crucial moment. The search for the “instant décisif” led him to a championship that made photography history.
Comparatively little is known that the frequent traveler and world traveler Cartier-Bresson was in Germany at the end of the war in 1945. He had previously been in the film and photography service of the French army, ordered to counter the massive Nazi propaganda.
He had been arrested in the Blitzkrieg in 1940 and had been in German captivity for three years. In 1943 he managed to escape after several failed attempts, in 1945 he was commissioned to document the liberation of Germany alongside the Allies.
Much like Robert Capa made his famous “War is over” recordings in Leipzig, Cartier-Bresson was in a crucial place in May 1945. In the transit camps near Dessau, he photographs the scene described above and other emblematic moments.
Bahoe Books, a Viennese publishing house that continuously makes a name for European memory culture with its documentary graphic novels on topics such as Schoah, war and contemporary witness, has a work by French cartoon artists Jean-David Morvan and Séverine Tréfouël (script) and Sylvain Savoia ( Drawings), which clearly depicts Cartier-Bresson’s years in captivity and his participation in the liberation of Germany. Graphically and photographically.
Drawings and photographs
The appeal of the graphic novel, which was supplemented in German by a dossier by the photo historian Thomas Tode, results from the possibility of comparing drawings and photographs. The way in which the comic is committed to the graphic implementation of Cartier-Bresson’s photography style is remarkable.
Henri Cartier-Bresson actually had a comic-style hero life, it contains travel and adventurous attempts to escape and even nicknames; temporarily he walks through the panels as Bébé Cadum (“Babyface”). The book is suitable for anyone who is not yet familiar with Cartier-Bresson’s work and wants to get to know one of the most fascinating photographers of the 20th century.
Jean-David Morvan, Sylvain Savoia, Séverine Tréfouël: Cartier-Bresson, Germany 1945. From the French by Milena Merkač. Bahoe Books, 144 p., € 24.