June 6, 2009


June 6, 2009 marks the 65th anniversary of the Allied military invasion of Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. 

The three haunting war images shown here of American soldiers landing on Omaha Beach were taken by the noted photojournalist Robert Capa (1913-1954), who stoically landed alongside the first waves of troops. 

In the book This is War! Robert Capa At Work co-published by The International Center of Photography, NY and Steidl Publishers, Germany, 2007, Richard Whelan notes:

"Capa would write that "the war correspondent gets more drinks, more girls, better pay, and greater freedom than the soldier" but that "having to choose his spot and being allowed to be a coward and not be executed for it" is the correspondent's special torture. He has "his stake - his life - in his own hands, and he can put it on this horse or that horse, or he can put it back in his pocket at the very last moment." Declaring himself a gambler, Capa decided to go with Company E, commanded by Captain Edward F. Wozenski, which was assigned to land on EASY RED in the first wave. Following his dictum that "if your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough," he would be right beside the first Allied troops landing in France."

Robert Capa's stirring D-Day photographs brought the horrors of war home to the stateside readers of Life Magazine. Over half a century later, the images served as important visual inspiration for Steven Spielberg's powerful 1998 motion picture Saving Private Ryan. The director has said "I don't know war, because I never fought in a war. But I honor the veterans by letting them inform me, and through the documentaries I watched, and Robert Capa's eight surviving D-Day photographs. They all helped me determine how I wanted the film to look."

Robert Capa would go on to co-found the Magnum photo agency in 1947 with Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour (Chim), George Rodger, and William Vandivert. While covering the French Indochina War in 1954, the photojournalist died after being seriously wounded by a landmine.  

Capa's memorable wartime photographs such as those taken on D-Day and the famous image illustrated above - Death of a Loyalist militiaman, Cerro Muriano, Cordoba front, Spain, September 5, 1936 serve as his legacy. War and the loss of human lives is not a game.

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