By Tony Vaccaro
has been seen many armies defeated, but never a victory quite
so remarkable as the American occupation of Germany. The Marshal
Plan saw the United States "win the peace" like no nation
before. Not only were the Nazis defeated militarily, they were
discredited by the appeal of American culture to the German populace
in the post-war years.
Germany 1944-1949 (Tacshen)
is a wonderful photographic account of the end of the Third Reich
and the beginning of post war occupation/reconstruction. Author
Tony Vaccaro was not an official photojournalist, but an actual
GI taking photos in his spare time and on his own accord. He processed
his films in four army helmets and hung the wet negatives from
tree branches to dry.
resulting images are both beautiful and dreadful. German soldiers
and citizens confront the rubble and devastation of a brutal world
war, while American GIs returned to a homeland that was unscathed.
Even the everyday banality of occupation life is captured poignantly.
Vaccaro has a participant's relationship to the things he photographed.
There is no bird's eye view or abstracted distance. His perspective
is authentic and intimate; a gifted eye recording the remarkable
events around him. This book is an exquisite labor of love. We
owe Tony Vaccaro a great debt not only for his perspective, but
also for his initiative and ingenuity in recording these images.
The result is a sweeping collection of photographs that are historically
important, very personal, and rich in artistic nuances.