CLIO mr brice - page 36

However, by the end of 1945, the
medium had taken on a darker,
more sobering significance. With
the fall of the Nazi regime and the
liberation of the death camps across
Europe, harrowing photos emerged
of skeletal prisoners, or worse, mass
graves full of corpses (5). Although
not a combatant conflict, the
Holocaust was undeniably one of
the most devastating examples of
the effects of a conflict of ideologies
and attitudes. The humanitarian
atrocities committed by the Nazis
under the cover of war were now
irrefutable and prompted a universal
response of abhorrence at the
genocide and calls to bring the
perpetrators to justice, something
which had been severely lacking
during the course of the war - an
example of the power of photos
in provoking incredibly strong
reactions which sometimes words
cannot.
Just as photos played a part in
proving the horrors of the Nazi
regime, they also played a significant
role in bringing to justice those
who oversaw the persecution
and genocide. Not only images
captured by Allied photographers
on liberating the camps were used
as evidence in the Nuremberg Trials
of 1945-6, but also photos taken by
German soldiers on the orders of
their superiors. One such piece was
the 'Stroop Report', which included
52 photos taken of the liquidation
of the Warsaw Ghetto, originally
intended as a souvenir for Heinrich
Himmler. Along with other crucial
evidence, such as testimonies,
official documents and film, photos
played a pivotal role in documenting
the undeniable Nazi persecution,
and bringing the remaining Nazi
perpetrators to justice.
Just as such images of the Holocaust
have continued to shape one of
the way in which the Second
World War has been remembered,
equally powerful images, from both
combatant and ideological conflicts,
have also since defined the manner
in which other clashes have been
viewed.
The Vietnam War raged for eight
bloody years (1965-78) between
northern Vietnamese communist
troops and American ones. The
viciousness of the conflict (with
an estimated
1.3 million combatant and civilian
deaths between 1965 and 1674)
inevitably resulted in a great deal
of harrowing photographs, but
arguably none more so than the
following two.
The first photo, taken in 1968 by
American photographer Eddie
Adams, depicts a member of
the North Vietnamese National
Liberation Front, Nguyen Văn Lém,
being executed by a member of the
National Police (6). The photo itself
is disconcerting -Lém’s head appears
to be pulling away from the gun,
but whether this is out of fear of his
imminent execution or out of the
force of a bullet is unclear.
The other equally disturbing photo,
taken by Nick Ut, emerged from
the conflict 4 years later, following
the accidental napalm bombing
of Trang Bang village. It shows a
nine year old girl, Phan Thi Kim
Phúc, running away from plumes of
smoke, naked and screaming after
pulling off her burning clothes,
along with some of her skin (7).
Both photos communicate, tacitly
but immediately, the terror these
two people felt at the moment the
images were captured. Whilst one
is a guerrilla fighter and another
a young girl, the horror and pain
which is so searingly obvious
unintentionally unites them,
captured at this terrifying moment
in time.
Fig 5. A grave full of corpses in
the wake of the Nazi regime.
Fig 6. An execution of a Vietcong by a Saigon
Police Chief
Fig 7. Children fleeing from a napalm bombing
run
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