A wide-ranging selection embracing The Great Patriotric War from its beginning to the Nuremberg Trials in 1946 and comprising many of khaldei's best known images, together with the photographer's own words on each of the photographs.
This selection of Khaldei's photographs was given to the journalist and author Brian Moynahan by the photographer. Moynahan visited Khaldei in 1994. Several of Khaldei's photographs featured in Moynahan's book The Russian Century: A Photojournalistic History of Russia in the Twentieth Century (1994), and he went on to write a profile of the photographer for The Times (17 September 1994). At the time of the meeting, Khaldei's own account of each of his subjects was noted by Moynahan and attached to the reverse of the relevant image.
Khaldei is one of the most celebrated photographers of the twentieth century. A photojournalist for the Soviet news agency Tass before he was twenty, within four days of the invasion he was photographing the action. Having been told by his editor that the conflict would be over within a week, Khaldei went on to photograph the following four years of devastating conflict. He was present at the fall of Berlin, at the Moscow victory parade and at Nuremberg.
Accredited as a war photographer with a military rank of lieutenant, Khaldei was with the Red Army as it advanced westwards to Berlin. The photographs in this collection both document precious moments of calm (a male soldier at the sewing machine, off duty women pilots) and the devastation of combat (from the famous study of the woman carrying her worldly goods through the ruins of Murmansk in 1942 to that of an isolated old woman making her way through the ruins of Berlin on May 2nd 1945).
Included are studies of Russian and British pilots outside Murmansk, of Sebastopol, the liberation of Sofia, Budapest (including the well-known study of a Jewish couple in the ghetto), in Vienna (including the haunting photograph of the Nazi official who killed his family and himself in a local park), Berlin as it falls (a woman stares at the first tanks into the city: "She'd spent a fortnight underground. She said 'What sort of tanks are those?' I said 'They're Russian.' She said: 'They can't be. Goebbels said they'd never get to Berlin.' I said 'What do you think I am?' And then she understood...").
Khaldei's photographic style was interpretative as well as documentary. He frequently printed his shadows as dark as possible, and combined negatives to make a more dramatic image. His most famous photograph, that of the Red flag being waved over the Reichstag, was, quite literally, a fabrication: the flag was a red table cloth Khaldei purloined from Tass, on which his uncle, a tailor, sewed the hammer and sickle. (The print of this subject illustrated here is mounted as a triptych with the study of the Moscow Victory Parade and that of the Nuremberg trial, also illustrated).
The captions to the images are fascinating insights into both the historical moment and the photographer. The classic image of Zhukov at the Victory Parade is tempered by another of a veteran taken when it was over ("After the parade, and the fit young men and the captured standards - there was this veteran, on crutches, a leg gone, a reminder of what had paid for the parade..."). Images of great men - Churchill, Truman and Stalin at Potsdam [illustrated], Zhukov, Shostakovich, Eisenhower, and of defeated German generals - are balanced by those of the individual soldiers who endured this epic passage of history.
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