Recommended: Imperial War Museum exhibit on Lee Miller, through 26/04/16
Well here is an American WW2 story that is new to me. I went over to the Imperial War Museum yesterday to see a special photo exhibit of the work of the American war correspondent Lee Miller (1907-1977). She had been a model and photographer with Vogue in London, but as WWII progressed she became a war correspondent.
Highlights from the narrative at the exhibit
Lee went over to France just after D-Day. She got caught up in the fighting and wound up on the front lines in St Malo. From there and on across Europe, she delivered jarring photos and stories that others did not, reflecting the underlying human toll of the war. Women, especially, did not do such things back then.
Her actions led to some amazing reporting on the war and its immediate aftermath (eg, pictures of medics, nurses and the wounded; the daughter of a Leipzig Nazi who had just committed suicide; homeless children without shoes in Budapest; collaborators being punished in France). After initially being reprimanded by the military for approaching the front lines, she wound up with privileged access, travelling with the regular soldiers and not the brass.
One surprising picture was taken in Hitler’s house in Munich. Lee went with US troops and witnessed horrors at the camp at Dachau. In the chaos of the just-liberated land she was then able to gain access to Hitler’s house, where she apparently proceeded — in a highly symbolic gesture — to jump in the bathtub to wash off the mud of Dachau.
After the war she struggled with alcoholism and depression, which followed from all that she had experienced. A recently published exhibit volume includes a number of her articles and letters and provides a real window into those times. That generation is passing away, but we should not forget the hard lessons that they learned.
For more information
Lee Miller: A Woman’s War, at the Imperial War Museum through 24 April 2016
Also, check out the excellent exhibit book: Lee Miller’s War: Beyond D-Day,
A. Penrose (ed), published by Thames & Hudson, 2014 paperback edition.
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