WWI Christmas Truce Football Match

Behind the camera: WWI Photographer
Where: Salonika, Greece
Photo Summary: Officers and men of 26th Divisional Ammunition Train playing football
Picture Taken: December 25, 1915

By Christmas 1914 World War I had been raging for months. The fighting saw the new industrial style of warfare involving machine guns that mowed down hundreds of soldiers in seconds. This meant that the men lived out of sight in wet, cold and diseased trenches. Soldiers huddled against the cold on Christmas were surprised when German soldiers starting singing. Allied soldiers sang back. Singing led to shouting, shouting led to brief encounters in no-ones land which led to a full-on truce and soldiers intermingling on both sides for much of the 1914 Christmas and Boxing day. Yet this picture didn’t take place in 1914 or even in Western Europe. This image is of officers and men of 26th Divisional Ammunition Train playing football a year after the Christmas truce, December 25th, 1915 in another theatre of war Salonika, Greece.

1914 Christmas Truce


British and German soldiers pictured in No Mans Land during Christmas Truce 1914

British and German soldiers pictured in No Mans Land


Six months into World War I the war was not going well for either side. Modern warfare meant that both sides had to hide in trenches from deadly machine guns that could put up a wall of deadly bullets blocking any attempted attack. Meanwhile, enemy snipers waited to put a hole in anyone exposing their head over the lip of the trench. Often the men, in their trenches, were knee deep in freezing water as they waited, never knowing when the other side would attack.

Facing the British in many parts of the Western Front were German soldiers who had often lived and worked in the United Kingdom. With good English, they sang to the British who replied in kind with Christmas songs of their own. Soon men infected with this Christmas cheer ventured above the trenches an action that just hours earlier would have meant a gift of a bullet in the head. The truce didn’t happen everywhere with some battles and the inevitable causalities even taking place on Christmas. Erik Sass tells us that:

According to British eyewitnesses, German troops from Saxony were often eager to fraternize, perhaps because of their shared ethnic heritage with the Anglo-Saxons, whereas Prussian troops were much less likely to make any friendly gestures, if only because they were under the stern supervision of committed Prussian officers. Meanwhile, on the Allied side, French troops were understandably also less inclined to fraternize with invaders occupying their own homeland – indeed, in some cases, their own homes. And regardless of nationality, some individuals simply seemed unable to put aside their personal hatred of the enemy. A Bavarian dispatch runner, Adolf Hitler, voiced strong disapproval of the truce, according to one of his fellow dispatch runners, who later recounted: “He said, ‘Something like this should not even be up for discussion during wartime.’”


The professional Indian soldiers on the front lines were horrified at their British comrade’s interactions with the Germans,

Belgian, Indian and French troops who witnessed episodes of fraternisation were at best puzzled and at worst very angry that British troops were being friendly towards the Germans.

While some French did observe a Christmas Truce after the war any stories of French soldiers taking part in the truce were censored and covered up.

In France, not a word was written on the subject. The newspapers had become tools enabling the army and authorities to spread propaganda. In the country that had given the world human rights, the press was no longer free.

Even in 2004 Frenchmen who took part in the Truce were still regarded as traitors and when a film producer asked to have French military cooperation in the remaking of the Truce for film, a vocal group vetoed the idea saying the French military would never be “involved in a film about rebels.”

Christmas Truce Football Match 1914 England vs Germany

Celebration of the football game using the photo from Greece 1915


The Football Game

A certain mythology has grown up around the Christmas truce and one of the more popular urban legends was that there was a semi-formal soccer match between the two sides. As Dan Snow tells us,

There wasn’t a single organised football match between German and British sides. There may have been small-scale kick-abouts – but these were just one of many different activities men took the time to enjoy.

This articles’ photo which is used quite extensively as proof that a game took place actually happened a year later on Christmas 1915, halfway around the world at a British base in Salonika, Greece.

During the 1914 Christmas Truce, instead of football, the men were more much more interested in recovering the bodies of their comrades which had often sat rotting away in no man’s land for months.

Famous pictures from Other Wars


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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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American Girl in Italy

Behind the camera: Ruth Orkin
Where: Streets of Florence, Italy
Photo Summary: Ninalee Craig walking down a street surrounded by Italian men. She is wearing an orange shawl
Picture Taken: 1951
In 1951 Ruth Orkin was backpacking around Italy when she ran into another American, Ninalee Craig, doing the same thing at a cheap hotel in Florence, Italy. Talking the two decided to do a photo shoot on the streets of Florence. This, now iconic, shot is just one of many of Ninalee walking around the city while Orkin followed her and took shots Paparazzi style.

Taking the picture

After the two girls decided on doing the photo shoot they walked around the city taking pictures of Ninalee (then going by the name Jinx) doing various things. Craig remembers the two hours the shoot took as “we were literally horsing around.” While walking down a street Orkin noticed that the 6ft tall Craig was getting a lot of looks from the men hanging out there. She had Craig walk up and down the street and then captured this image. The daughter of Orkin who maintains the photographer’s collection after her death also confirms that the photo isn’t staged saying “She told the man on [the] motorcycle to tell the other men not to look at the camera,… But the composition, it just happened. And my mother got it. That’s what she was good at. … She didn’t take loads and loads of photos. She waited for shots.”

When asked if the men were harassing her or threatening her Craig said:

Very few of those men had jobs, Italy was recovering from the war and had really been devastated by it … I can tell you that it wasn’t the intent of any man there to harass me.
That young man [touching himself] is not whistling, by the way; he’s making a happy, yelping sound, And where you see him touching the family jewels, or indicating them, with his hand — well, for a long time that was considered an image people should not look at. That part was airbrushed out for years … But none of those men crossed the line at all.

Ninalee Craig



In 1951 a 23-year-old Ninalee Craig gave up her New York job and booked passage on a third-class ship going to Europe. Taking the name Jinx Allen for six months she toured through France, Spain, and Italy by herself. After about six months and spending less than a thousand American dollars Craig returned to her life in New York. She spent some time teaching before meeting an Italian widower and moving to Italy. The marriage didn’t last and so she returned to America where she met a Canadian and married again moving to Toronto in the 70s. “My life has been wonderful, I’m ready for more” says Craig.

Ruth Orkin

Ruth Orkin was born in 1921, Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of the silent film actress, Mary Ruby. At the age of 10 she took up photography and enjoyed a bit of fame after cycling from LA to New York, taking pictures along the way. She went on to become an American photographer, filmmaker and a late member of the Photo League. She married photographer and filmmaker Morris Engel. Together the made the critically acclaimed movie The Little Fugitive. She produced two photobooks, A A World Through My Window and More Pictures From My Window before dying from Cancer in New York on 16 January 1985.

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Microsoft – Bliss

Behind the camera: Charles O’Rear
Where: Sonoma County, California
Photo Summary: A hillside next to the shoulder of Highway 121
Picture Taken: 1996

In 1996 photographer Charles O’Rear was driving on Highway 121 through the Napa and Sonoma counties to the city of Marin. Looking over at the beautiful green hill and perfect sky O’Rear made the decision to pull over and snap the scene. Much later Microsoft Windows XP was looking for a picture and selected this one, renaming it Bliss. They choose the picture to be the centerpiece for the Windows XP $200 million advertising campaign Yes you can.

Taking the photo



Charles O’Rear was driving to the city of Marin and was struck by the scene he saw laid out before his eyes along Highway 121. To get the perfect shot he got out of his car and poked his medium format camera through the wire fence. He chose the ISO and f-stop settings and pushed the shutter. He would later remark in an interview:

Photographers like to become famous for pictures they created, I didn’t ‘create’ this. I just happened to be there at the right moment and documented it. If you are Ansel Adams and you take a particular picture of Half Dome and want the light a certain way, you manipulate the light. He was famous for going into the dark room and burning and dodging. Well, this is none of that.
I sure would have liked to have sold them another photo, But I think this is one that will be recognized by more people on the planet than any other photograph. People may still remember it when I’m dead and gone. It will probably be mentioned in my obituary.

To have full ownership of the photo Microsoft paid a huge sum, “one of the largest amounts ever paid to a living, working photographer.”

Photographer


Same location taken in 2006 shows there are now vineyards on the hill


Charles O’Rear is a professional photographer who has travelled the world taking pictures for National Geographic. He got his first camera when he was 10 and in his hometown of Butler, he worked as a sports reporter for the Daily Democrat. Moving to the big city he shot pictures for the Kansas City Star before he moved and worked for the Los Angeles Times shooting celebrities. After seeing his pictures National Geographic decided to give him a job and sent him to Alaska. For the next few decades, he worked NG taking pictures all around the world. While travelling through Indonesia on a year-long assignment he used over 500 rolls of film or thousands of pictures. Of all those only 25 for use for the issue of the magazine. He is now based out of Napa Valley, California and has published nine books of wine photography, including his best-selling Napa Valley: The Land, The Wine, The People and his wife co-wrote the Wine Across America: A Photographic Road Trip in 2007

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Kissing Couple

Behind the camera: Robert Doisneau
Where: Streets of Paris outside the Hotel de Ville
Photo Summary: Françoise Bornet and then boyfriend Jacques Carteaud posing for a kiss
Picture Taken: 1950

Titled “Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville,” or “Kiss at City Hall.” Robert Doisneau’s (pronounced ro-bear dwa-no.) picture has itself come to symbolize spontaneous acts of love and cement that Paris is the city of romance. In late 2000 Paris Match magazine called on young couples to recreate the kiss in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the picture. Doisneau took the snapshot of lust, in 1950, as part of a series on young love in Paris, for LIFE magazine. Over the years millions of copies of the image were sold as posters. One of the women who showed up for the reenactment said she has never really understood why Paris is seen as more romantic than other European cities. “But we must continue to perpetuate the image”

Rebirth

He didn’t want to shatter their dream
Why Robert Doisneau didn’t admit using models

After the picture appeared in the LIFE magazine series it lay forgotten for 31 years until a publisher called Doisneau asking to make a poster of the “Kiss at City Hall” shot. The poster was a huge hit, and soon posters and postcards were sold all over the world. The image brought Doisneau fame but it also brought a lot of headaches too. Since the success of the poster, many couples have come forward claiming to be the couple in the picture. Doisneau was not threatened by the claims, as he knew he had used models to pose for the kiss. In a 1992 interview, Doisneau said: “I would have never dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate.”

Still, he greeted the claims with gentleness. His daughter Annette Doisneau, who worked as an assistant for Robert, remembers meeting one of the couples with her father. Even though he knew that their claim was false, “He said nothing,” she said. “I asked him why he hadn’t told them the truth. He said he didn’t want to shatter their dream.” Not denying the claims would cost Robert dearly. In 1993 Denise and Jean-Louis Lavergne took him to court claiming that they were the couple in the picture and demanding compensation for taking the picture without their knowledge.

Models come forward

The photo was posed. But the kiss was real
Ms Bornet the women in the shot

The lawsuit forced Robert to admit that the shot wasn’t spontaneous, he had indeed used models for the picture. With this admission, the lawsuit was dismissed. However his legal trouble didn’t end as the model that he used, Françoise Bornet then came forward and sued for a portion of the poster sales. This case too was thrown out when Robert provided evidence that she had been paid for posing in 1950. Françoise Bornet and then-boyfriend Jacques Carteaud posed for the picture after Robert had seen them kissing earlier in a café. Mrs. Bornet a former actress, now in her 70’s has revealed that her and Jacques’ relationship only lasted around 9 months. Even though they are forever linked in the picture as one of the most romantic couples they didn’t stay in touch. “I now think of it as a picture that should never really have existed,” Ms. Bornet said. She added maybe with regret: “The photo was posed. But the kiss was real.”

In 2005 she sold the original print, which bears the photographer’s authentic signature and stamp, that Robert Doisneau had sent her a few days after taking the shot. At the Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur auction, an unidentified Swiss collector paid 155,000 euros, more than 10 times what it was expected to fetch. A surprised Mrs. Bornet told the French media that she would use the proceeds to set up a film production company with her husband.
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Robert Doisneau


Robert Doisneau became one of Frances most prolific and popular photographers. He is known for his everyday shots of life in France’s cafés and streets. He once said that “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” Which is ironic considering that his most famous picture was staged. Critic’s have tried to marginalize his artistic reputation as a “cheerful chappie” who marched around happily taking pictures of whoever passed him by. However, this image has always annoyed those close to him. His daughter, Francine Doisneau, “Nothing could be further from the truth, … If you look closely at his work, you’ll see that the lightness, the carefree touch he strives for, aims to mask his own melancholy.” Doisneau own life was indeed anything but cheerful. Born in Gentilly in the Val-de-Marne, France 1912. He watched his father march off to World War I and then his mother died when he was seven. Raised by an aunt and then stepmother who never showed him the love that his mother did, he eventually trained as an engraver at the Ecole Estienne in Chantilly. However, when he graduated he found that his training was out of date and useless. While working at a pharmaceutical firm he learned photography in the advertising department. He first started taking pictures as a hobbyist but soon he turned pro selling his first photo-story to the Excelsior newspaper in 1932 at the age of 20.

When World War II came around, he was first a member of the French Army and then the Resistance using his skills as an engraver to forge passports and identification papers. After the war, he did some freelance work for a number of international magazines including Life, and Vogue. Through Vogue, he became well known in the high-society fashion circles but Robert Doisneau didn’t go down in the books for his fashion photography but his “street photography”. Some of his favorite pictures were of street urchins and those whom he called “Urban Gallantry” (prostitutes). He used to wander the streets at night trying to capture those on the edge of French society. One of his favorite pictures, taken in 1935, is a near self-portrait of Doisneau as a street kid. A short film about his version of Paris, Le Paris de Robert Doisneau, was made in 1973. Doisneau won the Prix Kodak in 1947, the Prix Niepce in 1956 and was a consultant to Expo ’67, Canada. He died on April Fools’ Day 1994.

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