Dresden Destroyed

Behind the camera: Richard Peter
Where: Dresden, Germany
Photo Summary: A statue on the City Hall Rathausturm or Tower overlooks a destroyed Dresden
Picture Taken: 1945
This image has some limited copyright rights reserved after it was released by the Deutsche Fotothek of the Saxon State Library / State and University Library Dresden (SLUB).

The logic behind the Allied bombing campaigns was that air attacks would force Nazi Germany out of the war. Working to this goal much of occupied Nazi Europe was laid waste by bombers manned by Allied airmen. One of the most controversial bombing raids was the Bombing of Dresden, Germany in World War II. Between February 13 – 15, 1945 over 1200 Allied bombers dropped their deadly payloads on one of Germany’s biggest cities. After the last bomber flew away the city was left in almost total ruins. It took years to rebuild and in 1945 photographer Richard Peter took this famous picture after scaling the city hall.

On the left Dresden in 1945 by Richard Peter and on the right Dresden in 2005 by Matthias Rietschel (AP)

On the left Dresden in 1945 by Richard Peter and on the right Dresden in 2005 by Matthias Rietschel (AP)

The Statue

The statue in the foreground overlooking the ruins of Dresden is often reported to be Peter Poeppelman’s “Allegory of Goodness” or “Allegorie der Güte” but the statue was actually carved by August Streimueller.

The Bombing Raid

The infamous Bombing of Dresden is still one of the most controversial actions of the Allies during WWII. Between February 13 and 15 1945 around 1,250 heavy bombers of the British and American air-forces dropping huge amounts of explosive and incendiary devices on the mostly wooden city. The resulting firestorm killed around 25,000 people and destroyed most of the historic city center. This happened even though Dresden was of questionable military value.

Richard Peter

Dresden 1945 and Now

Dresden 1945 and Now


Richard Peter was born in Silesia in 1895. While working as a smith and miner he was drafted into the army to serve in the trenches during WW1. After the war, he settled in Dresden and became a photojournalist for various left-wing publications. When the Nazis came to power he was blacklisted and used his skills with the camera to work in advertising before he was drafted into the German Army during WWII.

After the war he returned to Dresden to find the city totally destroyed including all his photo equipment. Using borrowed equipment he began to document Dresden’s literal rise from the ashes. Publishing his work in a book Dresden, eine kamera klagt an (Dresden, a photographic accusation).

Even with his pre-Nazi left-wing credentials, his life under the communist regime wasn’t much better. After investigating corrupt communist officials he was banned from government work but continued to make a living as a freelance photographer. He died on October 3, 1977, at the age of 82.

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Sophia Loren Meets Jayne Mansfield

Behind the camera: Hollywood Paparazzi
Photo Summary: Sophia Loren looks worryingly at Jayne Mansfield’s cleavage
Picture Taken: April 1957

Italian-French film star Sophia Loren had dazzled the world at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival. A few years later Paramount had arranged an official welcome party for her when she arrived in Hollywood. All of cinema was there including blonde bomb shell Jayne Mansfield who was famous for her movies “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”. Always one to make an entrance Mansfield pranced around the table in her low cut dress allowing the Hollywood Paparazzi to get this picture of Sophia Loren looks worryingly at Jayne Mansfield’s cleavage.

The paparazzi took a number of photos

The paparazzi took a number of photos

Taking the Picture

Sophia Loren has had a long and celebrated career as an international film star. Celebrated by her peers she won several awards including the academy award for Best Actress in 1962. After she started raising her family in the 70s she slowed her career down but did a few movies later in life. In 2003 Sophia Loren along with Mikhail Gorbachev, Prokofiev, Beintus, Bill Clinton, Kent Nagano and the Russian National Orchestra she even won the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album For Children, Peter & The Wolf: Wolf Tracks

While doing PR for her new autobiography, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life, Sophia Loren has talked about this dinner.

She came right for my table. She knew everyone was watching. She sat down. And now, she was barely… Listen. Look at the picture. Where are my eyes? I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate. In my face, you can see the fear. I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow—BOOM!—and spill all over the table.

They took a number of photos but none as famous as this one.

Published around the world, most media outlets censored the picture. In her native Italy, the magazines Il Giorno and Gazzetta del Popolo printed the shot only after retouching them so that it appeared her cleavage was covered. Only Il Giornale d’Italia printed them uncensored.

Even at 80-years-old in 2015 Sophia Loren still gets requests to sign this photo but refuses out of respect to Mansfield who died in a horrible car crash in 1967.

Mark Seliger took a picture named Heidi Klum at Romanoff's with Heidi Klum

Many photographers have replicated the scene including this one when
Mark Seliger took a picture with Heidi Klum

The crash

Before becoming a movie star Jayne Mansfield had a successful Broadway career. Her film career had its ups and downs as well as plenty of controversy, like when she was the first lead actress to go topless in the 1963 hit, Promises! Promises!. While her box office pull dropped she remained a popular celebrity who made news wherever she went.

Ten years after her dinner with Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield was doing an engagement at the Gus Stevens Supper Club in Biloxi, Mississippi. On June 29, 1967, at approximately 2:25 am Mansfield and her family were returning after the event. A traffic jam caused a semi to slow down and her 1966 Buick Electra 225 slammed into the raised semi truck, shearing off the top of the car and instantly killing all the adults in the car while sparing the smaller children. This accident caused the laws to be changed in the trucking industry. Strong steel bars on the rear of semi-trucks were made mandatory so that they can stop the same thing happening in other rear end accident victims. Although the industry was slow to adopt these bars they eventually became standard and are now known as “Mansfield bars.”

Mansfield didn’t attain the Marilyn Monroe level of fame after her death but is still remembered by the millions of people who grew up with her. Newer generations are more familiar with Mansfield’s daughter, Mariska Hargitay, who plays the iconic role of New York City sex crimes Sergeant Olivia Benson on the NBC television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

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Black Tuesday

Behind the camera: © Bettmann/CORBIS
Where: New York City
Photo Summary: Bankrupt investor Walter Thornton tries to sell his luxury roadster for $100 cash on the streets of New York City following the 1929 stock market crash
Picture Taken: October 30, 1929

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 was the biggest market crash in American history. Billions of dollars were lost in a day that would become known as Black Tuesday. The crash lead to almost two decades of worldwide depressed economic activity, known today as the Great Depression. America and the world wouldn’t emerge from the effects of the crash until World War II.

One of the most famous photos of this day is of investor Walter Thornton trying to sell his Chrysler Imperial “75” Roadster for $100. According to the postcard shown on this page, a 1928 Chrysler Imperial “75” Roadster could be purchased for $1555 ($21,400 in 2014). The Thornton picture shows the desperation of men who had lost everything on the stock market. Walter Thornton was so desperate for cash that he had no problem selling his year old car for $100 (US$ 1,400 in 2014) even though he was taking a huge loss.

The real despair felt around this time led to a number of myths surrounding Black Tuesday like the myth of finical investors jumping from the windows like lemmings upon learning that they were worthless but as Cecil Adams from the Straight Dope points out:

economist John Kenneth Galbraith … in his book The Great Crash, 1929, first published in 1955. Studying U.S. death statistics, Galbraith found that while the U.S. suicide rate increased steadily between 1925 and 1932, during October and November of 1929 [The time frame of the crash] the number of suicides was disappointingly low.

Actual Color Photograph of Chrysler 75 Roadster

Actual Color Photograph of Chrysler 75 Roadster

Copy Right Info

This image is handled by CorbisImages.com, the photo website for the Corbis Images network. This image, Man Selling Roadster After Stock Market Crash, can be purchased from their website at corbisimages.com

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Painters on the Brooklyn Bridge

Behind the camera: Eugene de Salignac
Where: Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Photo Summary: Workers painting the bridge cables
Picture Taken: October 7, 1914

As the official photographer for the New York Department of Bridges from 1906 to 1934 Eugene de Salignac captured New York as it was transforming from a city packed with horses to one of towering sky scrappers and street cars. While documenting work on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge on September 22, 1914 Salignac took a photo of workers painting the bridge cables. This may have been the inspiration to return a month later, on October 7, 1914, when he took this posed image of workers ,arranged almost musically, on the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge — 31 years after it first opened.

Eugene de Salignac


Brooklyn Bridge showing system of painting bridge on cables on September 22, 1914

Brooklyn Bridge showing system of painting bridge on cables on September 22, 1914


Eugene de Salignac is a bit of a mystery to historians. Born in 1861 he was 42-years-old, in 1903, when he got a job as assistant to the photographer for the Department of Bridges, Joseph Palmer. When Palmer unexpectedly died three years later Salignac took over his job. For decades he took pictures documenting New York’s transformation from horse and buggy streets to the modern urban jungle we know now. Over the course of his career, he shot over 20,000 images. Yet for decades they sat in the city archives collecting dust.

No one knew of his work until 1999 when the senior curator at the New York City Municipal Archives, Michael Lorenzini, was spooling through the city’s huge collection of microfilm. Lorenzini started to notice that most of the images in the collection had the same style. This hunch led him to discover a series of numbers on the negatives that led to an epiphany, “It just kind of hit me: this is one guy; this is a great photographer.”

The scale of Eugene de Salignac’s work is massive with more and more pictures discovered all the time. Working until his retirement in 1932 he took thousands of images. New York has uploaded many of Salignac’s pictures on its Department of Records website.

In 1943 he passed away, at 82-years-old, without anyone knowing the immensely important legacy he left behind in the city archives.

After he was “discovered” by Lorenzini in 1999 there have been a number of shows and in 2007 Aperture Publishers released a book called New York Rises: Photographs by Eugene de Salignac with essays by Michael Lorenzini and photography scholar Kevin Moore.

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Reaching Out

Behind the camera: Larry Burrows
Where: Close to Hill 484, near the DMZ in South Vietnam
Photo Summary: Wounded Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie reaching out to a fellow Marine near Hill 484. On the far left is 19-year-old, Navy corpsman Ron Cook and the man whose hand is touching Purdie’s shoulder is 18-year-old Private Dan King.
Picture Taken: October 5, 1966

After a long battle the wounded American Marines of, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, lay in wait for medical evacuation on a muddy hill in Quang Tri Province, just below the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). It was there that the Englishman Larry Burrows captured this image of wounded Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie reaching out to a wounded comrade.

Taking the picture


On the far left of the picture is, then 19-year-old, Navy corpsman Ron Cook (Gary Landers photo)

On the far left of the picture is, then 19-year-old, Navy corpsman Ron Cook (Gary Landers photo)

In September of 1966, American Marines were ordered to two granite peaks, Hill 400 and Hill 484, in the forested region of Quang Tri Province, just below the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The North Vietnamese forces were crossing the border and the Marines were sent to engage them.

Ron Cook a corpsman assigned to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment remembers how much his unit struggled not just against the enemy but the infamous non-combat horrors of Vietnam. Disease-carrying mosquitoes, huge leaches, poisonous snakes were always a danger and all the while the rain meant that everything was wet all the time. At just 19 he struggled with caring for so many wounded.

I think any corpsman that served in Vietnam will say we were kids taking care of kids. We were put under the most stressful situations. I mean, when you’re an 18-year-old kid and they hand you 56 Marines and say, “Here, keep them alive if you can; the ones you can’t, we’ll just tag and bag and send them home to their mothers,’ it’s a lot of responsibility for a kid.

After days of fighting Hill 400 was secured and the engineers carved out a landing pad between Hill 400 and 484, an area that was called Mutter’s Ridge. While other units pushed on, Ron Cook’s Kilo company stayed to evacuate the wounded and regroup. It was here that the quiet English journalist, Larry Burrows, was able to take some pictures of the men.

LIFE editors didn’t initially publish this image, instead printing other pictures Burrows had taken. It wasn’t until February 1971, that LIFE published the image in an article commemorating the photographer who had recently gone missing in Laos.

Larry Burrows


[bigquote quote=”He never got in the way. He never imposed, He blended into the background. He was very quiet. That’s why they called him ‘the compassionate photographer.'” author=”Ron Cook”]

Born in 1926 London Burrows dropped out of school to take a job at LIFE when he was just 16. He worked in the British photo labs during WWII and it is often rumored that it was he who was responsible for destroying Robert Capa’s D-Day negatives. After the war he became a photojournalist and arrived in Vietnam in 1962. He hoped to cover the Vietnam War until there was peace.

On February 10, 1971, four journalists (Kent Potter 23, Keisaburo Shimamoto 34, Henri Huet 43, Larry Burrows 44) were flying in a helicopter over Laos when they were shot down. After an extensive search, they were thought lost to the jungle. LIFE’s Managing Editor, Ralph Graves, wrote about the missing pilots who he thought had surely died in the crash:

I do not think it is demeaning to any other photographer in the world for me to say that Larry Burrows was the single bravest and most dedicated war photographer I know of. He spent nine years covering the Vietnam War under conditions of incredible danger, not just at odd times but over and over again. We kept thinking up other, safer stories for him to do, but he would do them and go back to the war. As he said, the war was his story, and he would see it through. His dream was to stay until he could photograph a Vietnam at peace.

It took until April of 2008 before the helicopter wreckage and the bodies were found.

Jeremiah Purdie

Born March 22, 1931, in Newport News Jeremiah Purdie was the baby of seven children and lost his mother, Annie Purdie, due to childbirth complications when he was only 3 weeks old. At just 17-years-old he joined the Marines and even fought a few weeks in the tail end of the Korean War. He served in Vietnam until he was forced out.

I was over there three times and I won three Purple Hearts, so they had to take me out, That’s the law — three Purple Hearts and you’re out.

He left the Marines in ’68 and found his way as a district manager for a shoe chain in Sacramento, California. He moved to the New Jersey for work and met his wife, Angel, in December 1969. He wrote a book ( The Journey That Brought Me to Glory: The Black Boy, the Marine, and the Christian) and found God, after a cancer scare, becoming an ordained deacon.

He died from heart failure at the age of 74 on May 06, 2005. In early May of 2014 former U.S. Postal Service member and 66 years-old Dan King was able to visit Purdie’s grave to his goodbyes, something he always dreamed of doing. Purdie’s family and members of his local Lumbee Warriors Association were able to join him.

[Getty picturetitle=”Reaching Out by Larry Burrows” gettylink=”http://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/news-photo/wounded-marine-gunnery-sgt-jeremiah-purdie-reaching-out-as-news-photo/92930883?Language=en-GB”]

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