In August 1968, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the liberalising reforms of Alexander Dubček‘s government during what was known as the Prague Spring. Prague-born Palach decided to sacrifice himself in protest of the invasion and set himself on fire, in Wenceslas Square, on 16 January 1969. According to a letter he sent to several public figures, an entire clandestine resistance organization had been established with the purpose of practicing self-immolation until their demands were met; however, it seems that such a group never existed. The demands declared in the letter were the abolition of censorship and a halt to the distribution of Zprávy, the official newspaper of the Soviet occupying forces. In addition, the letter called for the Czech and the Slovak peoples to go on a general strike in support of these demands. An earlier draft of the letter that Palach wrote also called for the resignation of a number of pro-Soviet politicians, but that demand did not make it into the final version, which included the remark that “our demands are not extreme, on the contrary”. Palach died from his burns several days after his act, at the hospital. On his deathbed, he was visited by a female acquaintance from his college and by a student leader, to whom he had addressed one of the copies of his letter. It was reported that he had pleaded for others not to do what he had done but instead to continue the struggle by other means, although it has been doubted whether he really said that.
According to Jaroslava Moserová, a burns specialist who was the first to provide care to Palach at the Charles University Faculty Hospital, Palach did not set himself on fire to protest against the Soviet occupation, but did so to protest against the “demoralization” of Czechoslovak citizens caused by the occupation.
“It was not so much in opposition to the Soviet occupation, but the demoralization which was setting in, that people were not only giving up, but giving in. And he wanted to stop that demoralization. I think the people in the street, the multitude of people in the street, silent, with sad eyes, serious faces, which when you looked at those people you understood that everyone understands, that all the decent people were on the verge of making compromises.“
The funeral of Palach turned into a major protest against the occupation, and a month later (on 25 February 1969) another student, Jan Zajíc, burned himself to death in the same place, followed in April of the same year by Evžen Plocek in Jihlava.
Memorial plaque with Jan Palach’s death mask taken by Olbram Zoubek
Palach was initially interred in Olšany Cemetery. As his gravesite was growing into a national shrine, the Czechoslovak secret police (StB) set out to destroy any memory of Palach’s deed and exhumed his remains on the night of 25 October 1973. His body was then cremated and sent to his mother in Palach’s native town of Všetaty while an anonymous old woman from a rest home was laid in the grave. Palach’s mother was not allowed to deposit the urn in the local cemetery until 1974. On 25 October 1990 the urn was officially returned to its initial site in Prague.
On the 20th anniversary of Palach’s death, protests ostensibly in memory of Palach (but intended as criticism of the regime) escalated into what would be called “Palach Week”. The series of anticommunist demonstrations in Prague between 15 and 21 January 1989 were suppressed by the police, who beat demonstrators and used water cannons, often catching passers-by in the fray. Palach Week is considered one of the catalyst demonstrations which preceded the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia 10 months later.
After the Velvet Revolution, Palach (along with Zajíc) was commemorated in Prague by a bronze cross embedded at the spot where he fell outside the National Museum, as well as a square named in his honour. The Czech astronomer Luboš Kohoutek, who left Czechoslovakia the following year, named an asteroid which had been discovered on 22 August 1969, after Jan Palach (1834 Palach). There are several other memorials to Palach in cities throughout Europe, including a small memorial inside the glacier tunnels beneath the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland.
Several later incidents of self-immolation may have been influenced by the example of Palach and his media popularity. In the spring of 2003, a total of six young Czechs burned themselves to death, notably Zdeněk Adamec, a 19-year-old student from Humpolec who burned himself on 6 March 2003 on almost the same spot in front of the National Museum where Palach burnt himself, leaving a suicide note explicitly referring to Palach and the others who had committed suicide in the 1969 Prague Spring.)
Just walking distance from the site of Palach’s self-immolation, a statuary in Prague’s Old Town Square honours iconic Bohemian religious thinker Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake for his beliefs in 1415. Himself celebrated as a national hero for many centuries, some commentary has linked Palach’s self-immolation to the execution of Hus.
The memorial to Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc in front of the National Museum during 25th anniversary of Velvet Revolution
After seeking political asylum in the United States, Polish artist Wiktor Szostalo commemorated Jan Palach in his “Performance for Freedom” proclaiming “I am Jan Palach. I’m a Czech, I’m a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Vietnamese, an Afghani, a betrayed You. After I’ve burnt myself a thousand times, perhaps we’ll win”.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the death of Jan Palach, a statue sculpted by András Beck as a tribute to the student was transported from France to the Czech Republic. The statue was installed in Mělník, the city where Jan Palach did his studies.
Italian songwriter Francesco Guccini wrote a song “La Primavera di Praga” in dedication to Jan Palach, compared to religious scholar Jan Hus: “Once again Jan Hus is burning alive”. Polish singer Jacek Kaczmarski wrote a song about Palach’s suicide, called “Pochodnie” (“Torches”). The Italian far-right Folk group, ”La Compagnia dell’Anello” released a song dedicated to him, titled Jan Palach. The Kasabian, British band, released the “Club Foot” on their 2004 debut album Kasabian on 17 May 2004 in the UK. The video of this song is dedicated to Jan Palach.
The Luxembourg-based Welsh composer Dafydd Bullock was commissioned to write “Requiem for Jan Palach” (op 182) to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Palach’s suicide. It includes a setting of words which appeared briefly on a statue in Wenceslas Square after the event, before being erased by the authorities: “Do not be indifferent to the day when the light of the future was carried forward by a burning body”.
In their 1983 song “Nuuj Helde” the Janse Bagge Bend (from the Netherlands) asks whether people know why Jan Palach burned. This song was meant to make the general public aware of heroes.
Palach featured in a monologue radio play entitled “Torch No 1” on BBC Radio 4, directed by Martin Jenkins, and written by David Pownall. Palach was played by Karl Davies.
French documentary filmmaker Raymond Depardon directed a 1969 film about Jan Palach.
Norwegian songwriter Hans Rotmo mentioned Palach’s name among other notable political activists such as Victor Jara and Steve Biko in his 1989 song “Lennon Street”.
Norwegian songwriter and singer Åge Aleksandersen mentioned Palach’s name in his 1984 song “Va det du Jesus”.
A sequence of poems exploring the implications of Palach’s death called One Match by the poet Sheila Hamilton were published in issue 51 of the Dorset-based poetry serial, Tears in the Fence (ed. David Caddy) in 2010.
A three-part 2013 Czech-Polish television show “Burning Bush“, directed by Agnieszka Holland, is situated around the events that happened after Jan Palach’s self-immolation.
In the Czech republic, many towns have streets or squares named after Palach, of which perhaps most notable is the Jan Palach Square in central Prague. He also had streets named after him in Luxembourg city (Luxembourg), Angers and Parthenay (France), Kraków (Poland), Assen and Haarlem (Netherlands), Varna (Bulgaria) and Nantwich (United Kingdom). In Rome (Italy) (as well as in many other Italian towns), there is a central square named after Palach with a commemorative statue.
The oldest rock club in Croatia is named Palach. It is situated in Rijeka since 1969 to this day. There is a bus station in the town of Curepipe, Mauritius named after Jan Palach. A student hall in Venice, Italy on the Giudecca island has also been given the name of Jan Palach.
A man who stood in front of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, the morning after the Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 by force, became known as the Tank Man or Unknown Protester. As the lead tank maneuvered to pass by the man, he repeatedly shifted his position in order to obstruct the tank’s attempted path around him. The incident was filmed and seen worldwide.
Currently, there is no reliable information about the identity or fate of the tank man.
1989 Raw Video: Man vs. Chinese tank Tiananmen Square
The incident took place near Tiananmen on Chang’an Avenue, which runs east-west along the north end of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, on June 5, 1989, one day after the Chinese government’s violent crackdown on the Tiananmen protests. The man stood in the middle of the wide avenue, directly in the path of a column of approaching Type 59 tanks. He wore a white shirt and black trousers, and he held two shopping bags, one in each hand. As the tanks came to a stop, the man gestured towards the tanks with his bags. In response, the lead tank attempted to drive around the man, but the man repeatedly stepped into the path of the tank in a show of nonviolent action. After repeatedly attempting to go around rather than crush the man, the lead tank stopped its engines, and the armored vehicles behind it seemed to follow suit. There was a short pause with the man and the tanks having reached a quiet, still impasse.
Having successfully brought the column to a halt, the man climbed onto the hull of the buttoned-up lead tank and, after briefly stopping at the driver’s hatch, appeared in video footage of the incident to call into various ports in the tank’s turret. He then climbed atop the turret and seemed to have a short conversation with a crew member at the gunner’s hatch. After ending the conversation, the man descended from the tank. The tank commander briefly emerged from his hatch, and the tanks restarted their engines, ready to continue on. At that point, the man, who was still standing within a meter or two from the side of the lead tank, leapt in front of the vehicle once again and quickly re-established the man–tank standoff.
Video footage shows two figures in blue pulling the man away and disappearing with him into a nearby crowd; the tanks continued on their way. Eyewitnesses are unsure who pulled him aside. Charlie Cole, who was there for Newsweek, said it was the Chinese government PSB (Public Security Bureau), while Jan Wong, who was there for The Globe and Mail, thought that the men who pulled him away were concerned bystanders. In April 1998, Time included the “Unknown Rebel” in a feature titled Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.
Identity and fate
Little is publicly known of the man’s identity or that of the commander of the lead tank. Shortly after the incident, the British tabloid the Sunday Express named him as Wang Weilin (王维林), a 19-year-old student who was later charged with “political hooliganism” and “attempting to subvert members of the People’s Liberation Army.” However, this claim has been rejected by internal Communist Party of China documents, which reported that they could not find the man, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights. One party member was quoted as saying, “We can’t find him. We got his name from journalists. We have checked through computers but can’t find him among the dead or among those in prison.” Numerous theories have sprung up as to the man’s identity and current whereabouts.
There are several conflicting stories about what happened to him after the demonstration. In a speech to the President’s Club in 1999, Bruce Herschensohn, former deputy special assistant to PresidentRichard Nixon, reported that he was executed 14 days later; other sources say he was executed by firing squad a few months after the Tiananmen Square protests. In Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now, Jan Wong writes that she believes from her interactions with the government press that they have “no idea who he was either” and that he’s still alive somewhere on the mainland.
The government of the People’s Republic of China has made few statements about the incident or the people involved. In a 1990 interview with Barbara Walters, then-CPC General SecretaryJiang Zemin was asked what became of the man. Jiang first stated (through an interpreter), “I can’t confirm whether this young man you mentioned was arrested or not,” and then replied in English, “I think…never killed” [sic]. At the time, the party’s propaganda apparatus referred to the incident as showing the “humanity” of the country’s military.
In a 2000 interview with Mike Wallace, Jiang Zemin said, “He was never arrested.” He then stated, “I don’t know where he is now.” He also emphasized that the tank stopped and did not run the young man down.
International notability and censorship
The intersection in 2014, viewed from a different angle
Internationally, the image of the lone man in front of the tank has come to symbolize the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and is widely considered one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.
However, a PBS interview of six experts noted that the memory of the Tiananmen Square protests appears to have faded in China, especially among younger Chinese people, due to government censorship. Images of the protest on the Internet have been censored in China. When undergraduate students at Beijing University, which was at the center of the incident, were shown copies of the iconic photograph 16 years afterwards, they “were genuinely mystified.” One of the students said that the image was “artwork.” It is noted in the documentary Frontline: The Tank Man, that he whispered to the student next to him “89”–which led the interviewer to surmise that the student may have concealed his knowledge of the event.
It has been suggested that the “Unknown Rebel,” if still alive, never made himself known as he is unaware of his international recognition due to Chinese media suppression of events relating to government protest.
At and after the events in the square, the PSB treated members of the international press roughly, confiscating and destroying all the film they could find, and forced the signing of confessions to offences such as photography during martial law, punishable by long imprisonment.
Five photographers (one of whom did not share his material for 20 years) managed to capture the event on film that was not later confiscated by the PSB. On June 4, 2009, the fifth photographer released an image of the scene taken from ground level.
The widest coverage of the event, and one of the best-known photographs of the event, appearing in both Time and Life magazines, was documented by Stuart Franklin. He was on the same balcony as Charlie Cole, and his roll of film was smuggled out of the country by a French student, concealed in a box of tea.
The most-used photograph of the event was taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press, from a sixth-floor balcony of the Beijing Hotel, about half a mile (800 meters) away from the scene. Widener was injured and suffering from flu. The image was taken using a Nikon FE2 camera through a Nikkor 400mm 5.6 ED IF lens and TC-301 teleconverter. With Widener running out of film, a friend hastily obtained a roll of Fuji 100 ASA color negative film, allowing him to make the shot. Though he was concerned that his shots were no good, his image was syndicated to many newspapers around the world and was said to have appeared on the front page of all European papers.
Wider shot by Stuart Franklin showing column of tanks.
Charlie Cole, working for Newsweek and on the same balcony as Stuart Franklin, hid his roll of film containing Tank Man in a Beijing Hotel toilet, sacrificing an unused roll of film and undeveloped images of wounded protesters after the PSB raided his room, destroyed the two aforementioned rolls of film and forced him to sign a confession to photography during martial law, an imprisonable offence. Cole was able to retrieve the roll and have it sent to Newsweek.
On June 4, 2009, in connection with the 20th anniversary of the protests, Associated Press reporter Terril Jones revealed a photo he had taken showing the Tank Man from ground level, a different angle from all of the other known photos of the Tank Man. Jones wrote that he was not aware of what he had captured until a month later when printing his photos.
Arthur Tsang Hin Wah of Reuters took several shots from room 1111 of the Beijing Hotel, but only the shot of Tank Man climbing the tank was chosen. It was not until several hours later that the photo of the man standing in front of the tank was finally chosen. When the staff noticed Widener’s work, they re-checked Wah’s negative to see if it was of the same moment as Widener’s. On March 20, 2013, in an interview by the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA), Wah told the story and added further detail. He told HKPPA that on the night of June 3, 1989, he was beaten by students while taking photos and was bleeding. A “foreign” photographer accompanying him suddenly said, “I am not gonna die for your country,” and left. Wah returned to the hotel. When he decided to go out again, the public security stopped him, so he stayed in his room, stood next to the window and eventually witnessed the Tank Man and took several shots of the event.
In addition to the photography, video footage of the scene was recorded and transmitted across the world. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) cameraman Willie Phua and CNN cameraman Jonathon Schaer appear to be the only two television cameramen who captured the scene.ABC correspondents Max Uechtritz and Peter Cave were the journalists reporting from the balcony.
After seeing Chinese tanks crush vehicles and people on June 3, many journalists and photographers believed the protests had already reached their peak, causing many to leave the area before the “tank man” incident occurred.
Stuart Franklin (born London, 16 June 1956) is a photographer, a member of Magnum Photos, and a former President of Magnum Photos (2006–2009). He was born at Guys Hospital, London.
Franklin studied drawing under Leonard McComb in Oxford and Whitechapel, London, and from 1976–1979 photography at West Surrey College of Art and Design, where he graduated with a BA. Moreover, between 1995 and 1997, he studied geography at the University of Oxford, first receiving a BA and the Gibbs Prize for geography. He received a doctorate in Geography from the University of Oxford in 2000.
From 1980 until 1985, Franklin worked with Agence Presse Sygma in Paris. During that time he photographed the civil war in Lebanon, unemployed people in Britain, famine in Sudan and the Heysel Stadium disaster.
Joining Magnum Photos in 1985, he became a full member in 1989. In the same year, Franklin photographed the uprising in Tiananmen Square and shot one of the Tank Man photographs, first published in Time Magazine, as well as widely documenting the uprising in Beijing  earning him a World Press Photo Award.
In 1989 Franklin traveled with Greenpeace to Antarctica. He worked on about twenty stories for National Geographic between 1991 and 2009, subjects including Inca conqueror Francisco Pizarro and the hydro-struggle in Quebec and places such as Buenos Aires and Malaysia. In addition, he worked on book and cultural projects. In October 2008, his book Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux was published by Thames & Hudson. An ominous photographic document of Europe’s changing landscape, it highlights Franklin’s deep ecological concern.
During 2009 Franklin curated an exhibition on Gaza – “Point of No Return” for the Noorderlicht Photo Festival. Since 2009 Franklin has focused on a long term landscape project in Norway published as “Narcissus” in 2013. Recently Franklin has worked on documentary projects on doctors working in Syria, and immigration in Calais. He leads a programme in documentary photography at Høgskulen i Volda, Norway.
Christian Aid Award for Humanitarian Photography, 1985
Tom Hopkinson Award, 1987
World Press Photo Award, 1989
World Press Photo award for spot news stories, third prize, 1991
Gibbs Prize for geography, University of Oxford, 1997
Franklin was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of The Royal Photographic Society in 2003. These are awarded to distinguished persons having, from their position or attainments, an intimate connection with the science or fine art of photography or the application thereof.
The beauty of our little planet , in our little insignificant corner of the Milky Way is all the more beautiful because its our HOME.
Earthrise is a photograph of the Earth taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. Nature photographer Galen Rowell declared it “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” This had been preceded by the crude 1966 black-and-white raster earthrise image taken by the Lunar
Planet Earth seen from space (Full HD 1080p) ORIGINAL
The conversation between Frank Borman and William Anders, during the taking of the Earthrise photograph
NASA | Earthrise: The 45th Anniversary
Earthrise is the name given to NASA image AS8-14-2383, taken by astronaut William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission, the first manned voyage to orbit the Moon.
Initially, before Anders found a suitable 70 mm color film, mission commander Frank Borman took a black-and-white photograph of the scene, with the Earth’s terminator touching the horizon. The land mass position and cloud patterns in this image are the same as those of the color photograph entitled Earthrise.
The photograph was taken from lunar orbit on December 24, 1968, with a highly modified Hasselblad 500 EL with an electric drive. The camera had a simple sighting ring rather than the standard reflex viewfinder and was loaded with a 70 mm film magazine containing custom Ektachrome film developed by Kodak. An audio recording of the event is available with transcription which allows the event to be followed closely – excerpt:
Anders: Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty.
Borman: Hey, don’t take that, it’s not scheduled. (joking)
Anders: (laughs) You got a color film, Jim?
Hand me that roll of color quick, would you…
Lovell: Oh man, that’s great!
Earthrise video captured by Apollo 10 crew on 1969
There were many images taken at that point. The mission audio tape establishes several photographs were taken, on Borman’s orders, with the enthusiastic concurrence of Lovell and Anders. Anders took the first color shot, then Lovell who notes the setting (1/250th of a second at f/11), followed by Anders with another two at varying exposures.
A nearly full-page black and white reproduction of Borman’s image may be viewed on page 164 of his 1988 autobiography, captioned, “One of the most famous pictures in photographic history — taken after I grabbed the camera away from Bill Anders”. Borman was the mission commander and notes (pg. 212) that this is the image “the Postal Service used on a stamp, and few photographs have been more frequently reproduced” [but see above]. The photograph reproduced in the Frank Borman autobiography is not the same image as the Anders photograph; aside from the orientation, the cloud patterns differ.
The stamp issue reproduces the cloud, color, and crater patterns of the Anders picture. Anders is described (pg. 193) by Borman as holding “a masters degree in nuclear engineering”; Anders was thus tasked as “the scientific crew member … also performing the photography duties that would be so important to the Apollo crew who actually landed on the Moon”.
The as-published photograph shows Earth:
Polar orientation: south to left, north to right (Antarctica at 10 o’clock)
Equator: center, running westward toward top right-hand corner
Nightfall terminator crossing the African continent (lightish region to left is Namib Desert, Namibia; to right is Western Sahara/West Africa)
Rotated clockwise approximately 135° from our typical North/South-Pole-oriented perspective
In 1969, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp (Scott # 1371) commemorating the Apollo 8 flight around the Moon. The stamp featured a detail (in color) of the Earthrise photograph, and the words, “In the beginning God…”, recalling the Apollo 8 Genesis reading.
On April 6, 2008 (Japan Standard Time), the first 1080p high-definition Earthrise video was captured, both a full Earthrise and Earthset video, by the JAXA lunar orbiter mission, SELENE (better known in Japan by its nickname Kaguya). After successfully orbiting the Moon for 1 year and 8 months, it was crashed intentionally onto the lunar surface at 18:25 UTC on June 10, 2009.
Earthrise Revisited 2013, a recreation showing the rising Earth as it must have looked to Anders, Borman, and Lovell in 1968.
A simulation of what the Apollo 8 crew saw as the Earth rose above the lunar horizon during their fourth orbit around the Moon that pauses to overlay two photographs taken by the crew and includes a clock overlay
In 2013, in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, NASA issued a video about the taking of the photograph. This computer-generated visualization used data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, which had provided detailed images of the lunar surface that could be matched with those taken every 20 seconds by an automatic camera on Apollo 8. The resulting video, re-creating what the astronauts would have seen, was synchronized with the recording of the crew’s conversation as they became the first humans to witness an Earthrise. The video included explanatory narration written and read by Andrew Chaikin.
Potential earthrises as seen from the Moon’s surface
An earthrise that might be witnessed from the surface of the Moon would be quite unlike moonrises on Earth. Because the Moon is tidally locked with the Earth, one side of the Moon always faces toward Earth. Interpretation of this fact would lead one to believe that the Earth’s position is fixed on the lunar sky and no earthrises can occur, however, the Moon librates slightly, which causes the Earth to draw a Lissajous figure on the sky. This figure fits inside a rectangle 15°48′ wide and 13°20′ high (in angular dimensions), while the angular diameter of the Earth as seen from Moon is only about 2°. This means that earthrises are visible near the edge of the Earth-observable surface of the Moon (about 20% of the surface). Since a full libration cycle takes about 27 days, earthrises are very slow, and it takes about 48 hours for Earth to clear its diameter. During the course of the month-long lunar orbit, an observer would additionally witness a succession of “Earth phases”, much like the lunar phases seen from Earth. That is what accounts for the half-illuminated globe seen in the photograph.
And now for a bit of me pondering the age old question , Are we alone? Just for fun mind you!
I’m no expert, but I sincerely believe that we are not alone in the universe .
Come on – between 100 billion – 400 billion stars in our galaxy ( Milky Way )
and over one 100 billion galaxies out there!
And I’ve not even touched on the multiverse
The numbers alone our mind boggling
I just find it inconceivable that out of these vast numbers our solar system is the only place that life took hold and evolved into the beautiful earth we know today.
I’m no Expert . But I assume that every thing that was needed to create the conditions for life on earth were no doubt abundant throughout space during the birth and evolution of space and the birth of Galaxies .
If the elements for life found their way to out tiny corner of the Milky Way , why not elsewhere?
I’m not saying that life is abundant throughout our galaxy and the billions of other galaxies out there , but surely the same elements that kick started life on earth must have travelled through space and found a home on other worlds out there.
Unfortunately due to the vast distances to these other worlds and galaxies we will never be able to travel to them or indeed send space ships and probes to unlock their secrets.
Our own Milky Way is so huge that even at the speed of light it would take 100,000 years to travel across it!
And even if we could travel these vast distances and survive the journey we would find that life on these other hostile worlds was beyond our comprehension , life – but not as we know it!
I expect that most life forms out there are single cell and far below the complex life forms that are found on earth.
But what if there are other more advance civilizations out there? No matter how advance they may be they will still be faced with the vast distances of space and time and would face the same frustrations as us , being stuck in their tiny corner of their galaxies and asking themselves the age of question”
“ARE WE ALONE”
The mind boggle….
The Drake Equation
The Drake Equation is used to estimate the number of communicating civilizations in the cosmos, or more simply put, the odds of finding intelligent life in the universe. N = The number of civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable
In 1956, forty black students applied for transfers at a white school. This was after the passing of the Pearsall Plan in North Carolina. At 15 years of age, on 4 September 1957, Dorothy Counts was one of the four black students enrolled at various all-white schools in the district; She was at Harry Harding High School, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Three students were enrolled at other schools, including Central High School. The harassment started when the wife of John Z. Warlick, the leader of the White Citizens Council, urged the boys to “keep her out” and at the same time, implored the girls to spit on her, saying, “spit on her, girls, spit on her.”
Dorothy walked by without reacting, but told the press that many people threw rocks at her—most of which landed in front of her feet—and that many spat on her back. Photographer Douglas Martin won the 1957 World Press Photo of the Year with an image of Counts being mocked by a crowd on her first day of school.
More abuse followed that day. She had trash thrown at her while eating her dinner and the teachers ignored her. The following day, she befriended two white girls, but they soon drew back because of harassment from other classmates.
Her family received threatening phone calls and after four days of extensive harassment—which included a smashed car and having her locker ransacked, her father decided to take his daughter out of the school. At a press conference, he said:
It is with compassion for our native land and love for our daughter Dorothy that we withdraw her as a student at Harding High School. As long as we felt she could be protected from bodily injury and insults within the school’s walls and upon the school premises, we were willing to grant her desire to study at Harding.
The family moved to Pennsylvania, where Counts attended an integrated school in Philadelphia, and later earned a degree from Johnson C. Smith University.
She has spent her professional career in child care resources.
In 2008, Harding High School awarded Counts an honorary diploma.
In 2010, Counts received a public apology from a member of the crowd which harassed her in 1957. In 2010, Harding High School renamed its library in honor of Counts-Scoggins, an honour rarely bestowed upon living persons.
Oded Balilty is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Israeli photographer. Born and raised in Jerusalem, he began his career as a photographer for the Israeli army magazine Bamahane. In 2002, at the height of the second Palestinian uprising, he joined The Associated Press. In 2007, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of a lone Jewish settler confronting Israeli security officers during the evacuation of a West Bank settlement outpost. He is the only Israeli photographer to ever receive the Pulitzer Prize. From 2007-2008, he was based in Beijing for AP. Balilty lives in Tel Aviv and photographs current events and documentary features for AP in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and around the world.
2013 “Restraint,” N&N Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2013 “Israel, Soviet Style,” Russian Photo Forum, Moscow, Russia
2011 “Marginal Notes” N&N Amana Gallery, Tel Aviv
2009 POV Photo festival in Tel Aviv
2009 “Hide and Seek” at the Artist House in Jerusalem
The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has a land area of 5,640 km2 and 220 km2 water, the northwest quarter of the Dead Sea. It has an estimated population of 2,676,740 (July 2013). More than 80%, about 2,100,000, are Palestinian Arabs, and approximately 500,000 are Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank, including about 192,000 in East Jerusalem, in Israeli settlements. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. The International Court of Justice advisory ruling (2004) concluded that events that came after the 1967 occupation of the West Bank by Israel, including the Jerusalem Law, Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan and the Oslo Accords, did not change the status of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) as occupied territory with Israel as the occupying power.
The name West Bank is a translation of the Arabic term ad-Diffah I-Garbiyyah, given to the territory west of the Jordan River that fell, in 1948, under occupation and administration by Jordan, which claimed subsequently to have annexed it in 1950. This annexation was recognized only by Britain, Iraq and Pakistan. The term was chosen to differentiate the west bank of the River Jordan from the “East Bank” of this river.
The neo-Latin name Cisjordan or Cis-Jordan (literally “on this side of the River Jordan”) is the usual name for the territory in the Romance languages and Hungarian. The name West Bank, however, has become the standard usage for this geopolitical entity in English and some of the other Germanic languages since its creation following the Jordanian army’s conquest.
In English, the name Cisjordan is occasionally used to designate the entire region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, particularly in the historical context of the British Mandate and earlier times. The analogous Transjordan (literally “on the other side of the River Jordan”) has historically been used to designate the region now roughly comprising the state of Jordan, which lies to the east of the Jordan River.
In 1947, it was subsequently designated as part of a proposed Arab state by the United Nations (UN) partition plan for Palestine. The resolution recommended partition of the British Mandate into a Jewish State, an Arab State, and an internationally administered enclave of Jerusalem, a more broad region of the modern-day West Bank was assigned to the Arab State. The resolution designated the territory described as “the hill country of Samaria and Judea” (including what is now also known as the “West Bank”) as part of the proposed Arab state, but following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War this area was captured by Transjordan (renamed Jordan two years after independence in 1946).
1949 Armistice Agreements defined the interim boundary between Israel and Jordan. In 1950, Transjordan annexed the area west of the Jordan River, naming it “West Bank” or “Cisjordan”, as “East Bank” or “Transjordan” designated the area east of the river. Jordan ruled over the West Bank from 1948 until 1967. Jordan’s annexation was never formally recognized by the international community, with the exception of the United Kingdom.
The idea of an independent Palestinian state was not raised by the Arab populations there at the time. King Abdullah of Jordan was crowned King of Jerusalem[by whom?] and granted Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and East Jerusalem Jordanian citizenship.
Until 1974, Jordan demanded the restoration of its control over the West Bank. In 1988, Jordan’s King Hussein announced “full legal and administrative disengagement from the West Bank”. On 28 July 1988, King Hussein announced the cessation of a $1.3 billion development program for the West Bank. Over the next few days, he formally dissolved Parliament, ending West Bank representation in the legislature, and severed all administrative and legal ties with the West Bank.
Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority officially controls a geographically non-contiguous territory comprising approx. 11% of the West Bank (known as Area A) which remains subject to Israeli incursions. Area B (approx. 28%) is subject to joint Israeli-Palestinian military and Palestinian civil control. Area C (approx. 61%) is under full Israeli control. Though 164 nations refer to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as “Occupied Palestinian Territory”, the state of Israel is of the view that only territories captured in war from “an established and recognized sovereign” are considered occupied territories. After the 2007 split between Fatah and Hamas, the West Bank areas under Palestinian control are an exclusive part of the Palestinian Authority, while the Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas.
The territories situated between the Green Line and the former eastern boundary of Palestine under the Mandate were occupied by Israel in 1967 during the armed conflict between Israel and Jordan. Under customary international law, the Court observes, these were therefore occupied territories in which Israel had the status of occupying Power. Subsequent events in these territories have done nothing to alter this situation. The Court concludes that all these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and that Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power.
In the same vein the Israeli Supreme Court stated in the 2004 Beit Sourik case that:
The general point of departure of all parties – which is also our point of departure – is that Israel holds the area in belligerent occupation (occupatio bellica)……The authority of the military commander flows from the provisions of public international law regarding belligerent occupation. These rules are established principally in the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 [hereinafter – the Hague Regulations]. These regulations reflect customary international law. The military commander’s authority is also anchored in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949.
The executive branch of the Israeli government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has defined the West Bank as disputed territory, whose status can only be determined through negotiations. The Ministry says that occupied territories are territories captured in war from an established and recognized sovereign, and that since the West Bank wasn’t under the legitimate and recognized sovereignty of any state prior to the Six-Day War, it shouldn’t be considered an occupied territory.
The International Court of Justice ruling of 9 July 2004 however found that the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is territory held by Israel under military occupation, regardless of its status prior to it coming under Israeli occupation and the Fourth Geneva convention applies de jure. The international community regards the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) as territories occupied by Israel.
International law (Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention) prohibits “transfers of the population of an occupying power to occupied territories”, incurring a responsibility on the part of Israel’s government to not settle Israeli citizens in the West Bank.
The future status of the West Bank, together with the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean shore, has been the subject of negotiation between the Palestinians and Israelis, although the current Road Map for Peace, proposed by the “Quartet” comprising the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations, envisions an independent Palestinian state in these territories living side by side with Israel (see also proposals for a Palestinian state). However, the “Road Map” states that in the first phase, Palestinians must end all attacks on Israel, whereas Israel must dismantle outposts. Since neither condition has been met since the Road Map was “accepted”, by all sides, final negotiations have not yet begun on major political differences.
The Palestinian Authority believes that the West Bank ought to be a part of their sovereign nation, and that the presence of Israeli military control is a violation of their right to Palestinian Authority rule. The United Nations calls the West Bank and Gaza Strip Israeli-occupied territories. The United States State Department also refers to the territories as occupied. Many Israelis and their supporters prefer the term disputed territories, because they claim part of the territory for themselves, and state the land has not, in 2000 years, been sovereign.
Palestinian public opinion opposes Israeli military and settler presence on the West Bank as a violation of their right to statehood and sovereignty. Israeli opinion is split into a number of views:
Complete or partial withdrawal from the West Bank in hopes of peaceful coexistence in separate states (sometimes called the “land for peace” position); (In a 2003 poll, 76% of Israelis supported a peace agreement based on that principle).
Maintenance of a military presence in the West Bank to reduce Palestinian terrorism by deterrence or by armed intervention, while relinquishing some degree of political control;
Annexation of the West Bank while considering the Palestinian population with Palestinian Authority citizenship with Israeli residence permit as per the Elon Peace Plan;
Annexation of the West Bank and assimilation of the Palestinian population to fully fledged Israeli citizens;
Transfer of the East Jerusalem Palestinian population (a 2002 poll at the height of the Al Aqsa intifada found 46% of Israelis favoring Palestinian transfer of Jerusalem residents).
In 2005 the United States ambassador to Israel, Daniel C. Kurtzer, expressed U.S. support “for the retention by Israel of major Israeli population centres [in the West Bank] as an outcome of negotiations”, reflecting President Bush‘s statement a year earlier that a permanent peace treaty would have to reflect “demographic realities” on the West Bank. In May 2011 US President Barack Obama officially stated US support for a future Palestinian state based on borders prior to the 1967 War, allowing for land swaps where they are mutually agreeable between the two sides. Obama was the first US president to formally support the policy, but he stated that it had been one long held by the US in its Middle East negotiations.
The West Bank has an area of 5,628 square kilometres (2,173 sq mi), which comprises 21.2% of former Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jordan) and has generally rugged mountainous terrain. The total length of the land boundaries of the region are 404 kilometres (251 miles). The terrain is mostly rugged dissected upland, some vegetation in the west, but somewhat barren in the east. The elevation span between the shoreline of the Dead Sea at -408 m to the highest point at Mount Nabi Yunis, at 1,030 m (3,379 ft) above sea level. The area of West Bank is landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel’s coastal aquifers.
There are few natural resources in the area except the highly arable land, which comprises 27% of the land area of the region. It is mostly used as permanent pastures (32% of arable land) and seasonal agricultural uses (40%). Forests and woodland comprise just 1%, with no permanent crops.
The climate in the West Bank is mostly Mediterranean, slightly cooler at elevated areas compared with the shoreline, west to the area. In the east, the West Bank includes the Judean Desert and the shoreline of the Dead Sea – both with dry and hot climate.
Map of West Bank settlements and closures in January 2006: Yellow = Palestinian urban centers. Light pink = closed military areas or settlement boundary areas or areas isolated by the Israeli West Bank barrier; dark pink = settlements, outposts or military bases. The black line = route of the Barrier
The 1993 Oslo Accords declared the final status of the West Bank to be subject to a forthcoming settlement between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. Following these interim accords, Israel withdrew its military rule from some parts of the West Bank, which was divided into three administrative divisions of the Oslo Accords:
Area A, 2.7%, full civil control of the Palestinian Authority, comprises Palestinian towns, and some rural areas away from Israeli settlements in the north (between Jenin, Nablus, Tubas, and Tulkarm), the south (around Hebron), and one in the center south of Salfit. Area B, 25.2%, adds other populated rural areas, many closer to the center of the West Bank. Area C contains all the Israeli settlements (excluding settlements in East Jerusalem), roads used to access the settlements, buffer zones (near settlements, roads, strategic areas, and Israel), and almost all of the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert.
Areas A and B are themselves divided among 227 separate areas (199 of which are smaller than 2 square kilometers (1 sq mi)) that are separated from one another by Israeli-controlled Area C.  Areas A, B, and C cross the 11 governorates used as administrative divisions by the Palestinian National Authority, Israel, and the IDF and named after major cities. The mainly open areas of Area C, which contains all of the basic resources of arable and building land, water springs, quarries and sites of touristic value needed to develop a viable Palestinian state, were to be handed over to the Palestinians by 1999 under the Oslo Accords as part of a final status agreement. This agreement was never achieved.
According to B’tselem, while the vast majority of the Palestinian population lives in areas A and B, the vacant land available for construction in dozens of villages and towns across the West Bank is situated on the margins of the communities and defined as area C. Less than 1% of area C is designated for use by Palestinians, who are also unable to legally build in their own existing villages in area C due to Israeli authorities’ restrictions,
An assessment by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in 2007 found that approximately 40% of the West Bank was taken up by Israeli infrastructure. The infrastructure, consisting of settlements, the barrier, military bases and closed military areas, Israeli declared nature reserves and the roads that accompany them is off-limits or tightly controlled to Palestinians.
In June 2011, the Independent Commission for Human Rights published a report that found that Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were subjected in 2010 to an “almost systematic campaign” of human rights abuse by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as by Israeli authorities, with the security forces of the PA and Hamas being responsible for torture, arrests and arbitrary detentions.
Through the Jerusalem Law, Israel extended its administrative control over East Jerusalem. This has often been interpreted as tantamount to an official annexation, though Ian Lustick, in reviewing the legal status of Israeli measures, has argued that no such annexation ever took place. The Palestinian residents have legal permanent residency status. Rejecting the Jerusalem Law, the UN Security Council passed UN Security Council Resolution 478, declaring that the law was “null and void”. Although permanent residents are permitted, if they wish, to receive Israeli citizenship if they meet certain conditions including swearing allegiance to the State and renouncing any other citizenship, most Palestinians did not apply for Israeli citizenship for political reasons. There are various possible reasons as to why the West Bank had not been annexed to Israel after its capture in 1967. The government of Israel has not formally confirmed an official reason; however, historians and analysts have established a variety of such, most of them demographic. Among those most commonly cited have been:
Reluctance to award its citizenship to an overwhelming number of a potentially hostile population whose allies were sworn to the destruction of Israel.
The importance of demographic concerns to some significant figures in Israel’s leadership was illustrated when Avraham Burg, a former Knesset Speaker and former chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, wrote in The Guardian in September 2003,
“Between the Jordan and the Mediterranean there is no longer a clear Jewish majority. And so, fellow citizens, it is not possible to keep the whole thing without paying a price. We cannot keep a Palestinian majority under an Israeli boot and at the same time think ourselves the only democracy in the Middle East. There cannot be democracy without equal rights for all who live here, Arab as well as Jew. We cannot keep the territories and preserve a Jewish majority in the world’s only Jewish state – not by means that are humane and moral and Jewish.”
As of December 2010, 327,750 Israelis live in the 121 settlements in the West Bank officially recognised by the Israeli government, 192,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem. There are approximately 100 further settlement outposts which are not officially recognized by the Israeli government and are illegal under Israeli law, but have been provided with infrastructure, water, sewage, and other services by the authorities.
The international consensus (including the United Nations) is that all Israeli settlements on the West Bank beyond the Green Line border are illegal under international law. In particular, the European Union as a whole considers the settlements to be illegal. Significant portions of the Israeli public similarly oppose the continuing presence of Jewish Israelis in the West Bank and have supported the 2005 settlement relocation. The majority of legal scholars also hold the settlements to violate international law, however individuals including Julius Stone, and Eugene Rostow have argued that they are legal under international law, on a number of different grounds. Immediately after the 1967 war Theodor Meron, legal counsel of Israel’s Foreign Ministry advised Israeli ministers in a “top secret” memo that any policy of building settlements across occupied territories violated international law and would “contravene the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention”.
The UN Security Council has issued several non-binding resolutions addressing the issue of the settlements. Typical of these is UN Security Council resolution 446 which states [the] practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity, and it calls on Israel as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.
The Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention held in Geneva on 5 December 2001 called upon “the Occupying Power to fully and effectively respect the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to refrain from perpetrating any violation of the Convention.” The High Contracting Parties reaffirmed “the illegality of the settlements in the said territories and of the extension thereof.”
On 30 December 2007, Israeli Prime MinisterEhud Olmert issued an order requiring approval by both the Israeli Prime Minister and Israeli Defense Minister of all settlement activities (including planning) in the West Bank. The change had little effect with settlements continuing to expand, and new ones being established. On 31 August 2014, Israel announced it was appropriating 400 hectares of land in the West Bank to eventually house 1,000 Israel families. The appropriation was described as the largest in more than 30 years. According to reports on Israel Radio, the development is a response to the 2014 kidnapping and murder of Israeli teenagers.
A Palestinian demonstration against the demolition of the village Susya
The Haaretz published on December 2005 about demolition of Palestinian outposts in Bil’in, the demolitions sparked a political debate as according to PeaceNow it was a double standard (“After what happened today in Bil’in, there is no reason that the state should defend its decision to continue the construction” credited to Michael Sfard).
In January 2012, the European Union approved the “Area C and Palestinian state building” report. The report said Palestinian presence in Area C has been continuously undermined by Israel and that state building efforts in Area C of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the EU were of “utmost importance in order to support the creation of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state”. The EU will support various projects to “support the Palestinian people and help maintain their presence”.
In May 2012, a petition was filed to the Israeli Supreme Court about the legality of more 15 Palestinian outposts and Palestinian building in “Area C”. The cases were filed by the non-profit Regavim: National Land Protection Trust.
The petition was one of 30 different petitions with the common ground of illegal land takeover and illegal construction and use of natural resources. Some of the petitions (27) had been set for trials and the majority received a verdict.
Ynet News stated on 11 Jan 2013 that a group of 200 Palestinians with unknown number of foreign activists created an outpost named Bab al-Shams (“Gate of the Sun”), contains 50 tents
Ynet News stated on 18 January 2013 that Palestinian activists built an outpost on a disputed area in Beit Iksa, where Israel plans to construct part of the separation fence in the Jerusalem vicinity while the Palestinians claim that the area belongs to the residents of Beit Iksa. named Bab al-Krama
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a physical barrier ordered for construction by the Israeli Government, consisting of a network of fences with vehicle-barrier trenches surrounded by an on average 60 meters (197 ft) wide exclusion area (90%) and up to 8 meters (26 ft) high concrete walls (10%) (although in most areas the wall is not nearly that high). It is located mainly within the West Bank, partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or “Green Line” between the West Bank and Israel. As of April 2006 the length of the barrier as approved by the Israeli government is 703 kilometers (437 mi) long.[needs update] Approximately 58.4% has been constructed, 8.96% is under construction, and construction has not yet begun on 33% of the barrier. The space between the barrier and the green line is a closed military zone known as the Seam Zone, cutting off 8.5% of the West Bank and encompassing dozens of villages and tens of thousands of Palestinians.
Supporters of the barrier claim it is necessary for protecting Israeli civilians from Palestinian attacks, which increased significantly during the Al-Aqsa Intifada; it has helped reduce incidents of terrorism by 90% from 2002 to 2005; over a 96% reduction in terror attacks in the six years ending in 2007, though Israel’s State Comptroller has acknowledged that most of the suicide bombers crossed into Israel through existing checkpoints. Its supporters claim that the onus is now on the Palestinian Authority to fight terrorism.
Opponents claim the barrier is an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security, violates international law, has the intent or effect to pre-empt final status negotiations, and severely restricts Palestinian livelihoods, particularly limiting their freedom of movement within and from the West Bank thereby undermining their economy.
After the signing of the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into 11 governorates under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority. Since 2007 there are two governments claiming to be the legitimate government of the Palestinian National Authority, one based in the West Bank and one based in the Gaza Strip.
The economy of the Palestinian territories is chronically depressed, with unemployment rates constantly over 20% since 2000 (19% in the West Bank in first half of 2013).
Consequences of occupation
The main reason for economic depression is the Israeli occupation.
According to a 2007 World Bank report, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank has destroyed the Palestinian economy, in violation of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. All major roads (with a total length of 700 km) are basically off-limits to Palestinians, making it impossible to do normal business. Economic recovery would reduce Palestinian dependence on international aid by one billion dollars per year.
A more comprehensive 2013 World Bank report calculates that, if the Interim Agreement was respected and restrictions lifted, a few key industries alone would produce USD 2.2 billion per annum more (or 23% of 2011 Palestinian GDP) and reduce by some USD 800 million (50%) the Palestinian Authority’s deficit; the employment would increase by 35%.
In August 2014, Palestinian leaders said they would apply to the United Nations Security Council for the establishment of a timetable for ending the Israeli occupation. The application would be made on 15 September 2014, following an Arab League meeting on 5 September 2014 at which support for the move would be requested. Unless a timetable was established, the Palestinian leadership said it would apply to the International Criminal Court where it would hold Israel responsible for its actions not only in the West Bank, but also in the Gaza Strip.
In December 2007, an official census conducted by the Palestinian Authority found that the Palestinian Arab population of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) was 2,345,000. However, the World Bank and American-Israeli Demographic Research Group identified a 32% discrepancy between first-grade enrollment statistics documented by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)’ 2007 projections, with questions also raised about the PCBS’ growth assumptions for the period 1997–2003.Israeli Border Police in 2006 observed 25,000 Palestinian Arabs emigrating from Palestinian Authority-controlled territories. The Israeli Civil Administration put the number of Palestinians in the West Bank at 2,657,029 as of May 2012.
There are 389,250 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem, as well as around 375,000 living in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem. There are also small ethnic groups, such as the Samaritans living in and around Nablus, numbering in the hundreds.
As of October 2007, around 23,000 Palestinians in the West Bank worked in Israel every day, while another 9,200 worked in Israeli settlements. In addition, around 10,000 Palestinian traders from the West Bank were allowed to travel every day into Israel.
In 2008, approximately 30% of Palestinians or 754,263 persons living in the West Bank were refugees or descendants of refugees from villages and towns located in what became Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, according to UNRWA statistics. A 2011 EU report titled “Area C and Palestinian State Building” reported that before the Israeli occupation in 1967, between 200,000 and 320,000 Palestinians used to live in the Jordan Valley, 90% which is in Area C, but demolition of Palestinian homes and prevention of new buildings has seen the number drop to 56,000, 70% of which live in Area A, in Jericho. In a similar period, the Jewish population in Area C has grown from 1,200 to 310,000.
The population of the West Bank is 80–85% Muslim (mostly Sunni) and 12–14% Jewish. The remainder are Christian (mostly Greek Orthodox) and others.
Transportation and communications
Road in the West Bank
In 2010, the West Bank and Gaza Strip together had 4,686 km (2,912 mi) of roadways.
Transportation infrastructure is particularly problematic as Palestinian use of roads in Area C is highly restricted, and travel times can be inordinate; the Palestinian Authority has also been unable to develop roads, airports or railways in or through Area C, while many other roads were restricted only to public transportation and to Palestinians who have special permits from Israeli authorities.
At certain times, Israel maintained more than 600 checkpoints or roadblocks in the region. As such, movement restrictions were also placed on main roads traditionally used by Palestinians to travel between cities, and such restrictions are still blamed for poverty and economic depression in the West Bank. Underpasses and bridges (28 of which have been constructed and 16 of which are planned) link Palestinian areas separated from each other by Israeli settlements and bypass roads”
As of August 2007[update], a divided highway is currently under construction that will pass through the West Bank. The highway has a concrete wall dividing the two sides, one designated for Israeli vehicles, the other for Palestinian. The wall is designed to allow Palestinians to pass north-south through Israeli-held land and facilitate the building of additional Jewish settlements in the Jerusalem neighborhood.
As of February 2012[update], a plan for 475-kilometer rail network, establishing 11 new rail lines in West Bank, was confirmed by Israeli Transportation Ministry. The West Bank network would include one line running through Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Ma’aleh Adumim, Bethlehem and Hebron. Another would provide service along the Jordanian border from Eilat to the Dead Sea, Jericho and Beit She’an and from there toward Haifa in the west and in also in a northeasterly direction. The proposed scheme also calls for shorter routes, such as between Nablus and Tul Karm in the West Bank, and from Ramallah to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan.
The Palestinian Paltel telecommunication companies provide communication services such as landline, cellular network and Internet in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Dialling code +970 is used in the West Bank and all over the Palestinian territories. Until 2007, the Palestinian mobile market was monopolized by Jawwal. A new mobile operator for the territories launched in 2009 under the name of Wataniya Telecom. The number of Internet users increased from 35,000 in 2000 to 356,000 in 2010.
Radio and television
The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts from an AM station in Ramallah on 675 kHz; numerous local privately owned stations are also in operation. Most Palestinian households have a radio and TV, and satellite dishes for receiving international coverage are widespread. Recently, PalTel announced and has begun implementing an initiative to provide ADSL broadband internet service to all households and businesses. Israel’s cable television company HOT, satellite television provider (DBS) Yes, AM and FM radio broadcast stations and public television broadcast stations all operate. Broadband internet service by Bezeq’s ADSL and by the cable company are available as well. The Al-Aqsa Voice broadcasts from Dabas Mall in Tulkarem at 106.7 FM. The Al-Aqsa TV station shares these offices.
Seven universities are operating in the West Bank:
Most universities in the West Bank have politically active student bodies, and elections of student council officers are normally along party affiliations. Although the establishment of the universities was initially allowed by the Israeli authorities, some were sporadically ordered closed by the Israeli Civil Administration during the 1970s and 1980s to prevent political activities and violence against the IDF. Some universities remained closed by military order for extended periods during years immediately preceding and following the first Palestinian Intifada, but have largely remained open since the signing of the Oslo Accords despite the advent of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (Second Intifada) in 2000.
The founding of Palestinian universities has greatly increased education levels among the population in the West Bank. According to a Birzeit University study, the percentage of Palestinians choosing local universities as opposed to foreign institutions has been steadily increasing; as of 1997, 41% of Palestinians with bachelor’s degrees had obtained them from Palestinian institutions. According to UNESCO, Palestinians are one of the most highly educated groups in the Middle East “despite often difficult circumstances”. The literacy rate among Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) is 94.6% for 2009.
The Falling Man is a photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:41:15 a.m. during the September 11 attacks in New York City. The subject of the image, whose identity remains uncertain, was one of the people trapped on the upper floors of the skyscraper who either fell searching for safety or jumped to escape the fire and smoke. At least 200 people are believed to have fallen or jumped to their deaths that day while other estimates say the number is half of that or less. Officials could not recover or identify the bodies of those forced out of the buildings prior to the collapse of the towers. All deaths in the attacks except those of the hijackers were ruled to be homicides due to blunt trauma (as opposed to suicides). The New York City medical examiner’s office said it does not classify the people who fell to their deaths on September 11 as “jumpers“: “A ‘jumper’ is somebody who goes to the office in the morning knowing that they will commit suicide. These people were forced out by the smoke and flames or blown out.”
The photograph gives the impression that the man is falling straight down; however, a series of photographs taken of his fall showed him to be tumbling through the air.
The photographer has noted that, in at least two cases, newspaper stories commenting on the image have attracted a barrage of criticism from readers who found the image “disturbing”. Regarding the social and cultural significance of the Falling Man, the theologian Mark D. Thompson of Moore Theological College said that “perhaps the most powerful image of despair at the beginning of the twenty-first century is not found in art, or literature, or even popular music. It is found in a single photograph.”
The photograph initially appeared in newspapers around the world, including on page 7 of The New York Times on September 12, 2001. The photo’s caption read “A person falls headfirst after jumping from the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was a horrific sight that was repeated in the moments after the planes struck the towers.” It appeared only once in the Times because of criticism and anger against its use. Six years later, it appeared on page 1 of the New York Times Book Review on May 27, 2007.
“The Falling Man” is the title of an article about the photograph by Tom Junod that was published in the September 2003 issue of Esquire magazine. The article was adapted as a documentary film by the same name. The article and film reveal the “Falling Man” may have been Jonathan Briley, who worked on the 106th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center. If the falling man was indeed Jonathan Briley, he may have fallen accidentally from the restaurant on that floor while searching for fresh air and safety, or decided to jump. He was an asthmatic and would have known he was in danger when smoke began to pour into the restaurant.
I hope we’re not trying to figure out who he is and more figure out who we are through watching that.
Gwendolyn, 9/11: The Falling Man
The identity of the subject of the Falling Man has never been officially confirmed. The fact that so many people were trapped in the tower has made identifying the man in the 12 photos difficult. It is thought that at least 200 people fell to their deaths, though the actual number is not certain.
The Globe and Mail reporter Peter Cheney suggested the man may have been Norberto Hernandez, based on his research, but, when Hernandez’ family closely examined the entire photo sequence, they did not feel that it was him.
Michael Lomonaco, the chef at Windows on the World, suggested that the man was Jonathan Briley, a 43-year-old employee of the North Tower restaurant. Briley was initially identified by his brother, Timothy. Lomonaco was able to identify Briley by his clothes and his body type. In one of the pictures, the Falling Man’s shirt or white jacket was blown open and up, revealing an orange tee shirt similar to the shirt that Briley wore often. His older sister, Gwendolyn, originally helped in identifying the Falling Man. She told reporters of The Sunday Mirror, “When I first looked at the picture … and I saw it was a man—tall, slim—I said, ‘If I didn’t know any better, that could be Jonathan.'” Briley, a resident of Mount Vernon, New York, was a sound engineer, and his brother Alex is an original member of the 1970s disco group Village People.
9/11: The Falling Man is a 2006 documentary film about the picture and the story behind it. It was made by American filmmaker Henry Singer and filmed by Richard Numeroff, a New York-based director of photography. The film is loosely based on Junod’s Esquire story. It also drew its material from photographer Lyle Owerko‘s pictures of falling people. It debuted on March 16, 2006, on the British television network Channel 4. It later made its North American premiere on Canada‘s CBC Newsworld on September 6, 2006, and has been broadcast in over 30 countries. The U.S. premiere was September 10, 2007, on the Discovery Times Channel.
The novel Falling Man, by Don DeLillo, is about the September 11 attacks. The Falling Man in the novel is a performance artist recreating the events of the photograph. DeLillo says he was unfamiliar with the title of the picture when he named his book. The artist straps himself into a harness and jumps from an elevated structure in a high visibility area (such as a highway overpass), hanging in the pose of the Falling Man.
Drew was one of four press photographers present at the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Drew has been an Associated Press photographer for 40 years, and lives with his wife and two daughters in New York City.
Phan Thị Kim Phúc
(1963-04-02) April 2, 1963 (age 52) Trang Bang, South Vietnam
University of Havana, Cuba
Author, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Being “The Girl in the Picture” (Vietnam War)
Bui Huy Toan
Order of Ontario
Phan Thị Kim PhúcOOnt (born April 2, 1963) is a Vietnamese-Canadian best known as the child depicted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken during the Vietnam War on June 8, 1972. The iconic photo taken in Trang Bang by AP photographer Nick Ut shows her at nine years of age running naked on a road after being severely burned on her back by a South Vietnamese attack.
Kim Phúc and her family were residents of the village of Trang Bang, South Vietnam. On June 8, 1972, South Vietnamese planes dropped a napalm bomb on Trang Bang, which had been attacked and occupied by North Vietnamese forces. Kim Phúc joined a group of civilians and South Vietnamese soldiers who were fleeing from the Caodai Temple to the safety of South Vietnamese-held positions. A South Vietnamese Air Force pilot mistook the group for enemy soldiers and diverted to attack. The bombing killed two of Kim Phúc’s cousins and two other villagers
Carpet Napalm Bombing
Kim Phúc was badly burned and tore off her burning clothes. Associated Press photographer Nick Ut‘s photograph of Kim Phúc running naked amid other fleeing villagers, South Vietnamese soldiers and press photographers became one of the most haunting images of the Vietnam War. In an interview many years later, she recalled she was yelling, Nóng quá, nóng quá (“too hot, too hot”) in the picture. New York Times editors were at first hesitant to consider the photo for publication because of the nudity, but eventually approved it.
A cropped version of the photo—with the press photographers to the right removed—was featured on the front page of the New York Times the next day. It later earned a Pulitzer Prize and was chosen as the World Press Photo of the Year for 1972.
After snapping the photograph, Ut took Kim Phúc and the other injured children to Barsky Hospital in Saigon, where it was determined that her burns were so severe that she probably would not survive.After a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures including skin transplantations, however, she was able to return home. A number of the early operations were performed by a Finnishplastic surgeon Aarne Rintala (1926–2014).
Ut continued to visit Kim Phúc until he was evacuated during the fall of Saigon.
Thumbnails of the film footage showing the events just before and after the iconic photograph was taken.
Audio tapes of President Richard Nixon, in conversation with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman in 1972, reveal that Nixon mused “I’m wondering if that was fixed” after seeing the photograph.
After the release of this tape, Út commented,
“Even though it has become one of the most memorable images of the twentieth century, President Nixon once doubted the authenticity of my photograph when he saw it in the papers on 12 June 1972…. The picture for me and unquestionably for many others could not have been more real. The photo was as authentic as the Vietnam War itself. The horror of the Vietnam War recorded by me did not have to be fixed. That terrified little girl is still alive today and has become an eloquent testimony to the authenticity of that photo.
That moment thirty years ago will be one Kim Phúc and I will never forget. It has ultimately changed both our lives.”
Less publicized is film shot by British television cameraman Alan Downes for the British ITN news service and his Vietnamese counterpart Le Phuc Dinh who was working for the American station NBC, which shows the events just before and after the photograph was taken (see image on right). In the top-left frame, a man (possibly Nick Út) stands and appears to take photographs as a passing airplane drops bombs. A group of children, Kim Phúc among them, run away in fear.
After a few seconds, she encounters the reporters dressed in military fatigue, including Christopher Wain who gave her water (top-right frame) and poured some over her burns. As she turns sideways, the severity of the burns on her arm and back can be seen (bottom-left frame). A crying woman runs in the opposite direction holding her badly burned child (bottom-right frame). Sections of the film shot were included in Hearts and Minds, the 1974 Academy Award-winning documentary about the Vietnam War directed by Peter Davis.
Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness, and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope, and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?
As a young adult, while studying medicine, Phúc was removed from her university and used as a propaganda symbol by the communist government of Vietnam. In 1986, however, she was granted permission to continue her studies in Cuba. She had converted from her family’s Cao Đài religion to Christianity four years earlier. Phạm Văn Đồng, the then-Prime Minister of Vietnam, became her friend and patron. After arriving in Cuba, she met Bui Huy Toan, another Vietnamese student and her future fiancé. In 1992, Phúc and Toan married and went on their honeymoon in Moscow. During a refuelling stop in Gander, Newfoundland, they left the plane and asked for political asylum in Canada, which was granted. The couple now lives in Ajax, Ontario near Toronto, and have two children. In 1996, Phúc met the surgeons who had saved her life. The following year, she passed the Canadian Citizenship Test with a perfect score and became a Canadian citizen.
Kim Phúc Foundation
In 1997 she established the first Kim Phúc Foundation in the US, with the aim of providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war. Later, other foundations were set up, with the same name, under an umbrella organization, Kim Phúc Foundation International.
In the programme, Phúc related how she was involved through her foundation in the efforts to secure medical treatment in Canada for Ali Abbas, who had lost both arms in a rocket attack on Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In 1996, Phúc gave a speech at the United States Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day. In her speech, she said that one cannot change the past, but everyone can work together for a peaceful future. Rev. John Plummer, a Vietnam veteran, who believed he took part in coordinating the air strike with the South Vietnamese Air Force (though Plummer’s entire chain of command and declassified documents indicate otherwise) met with Phúc briefly and was publicly forgiven.
A Canadian filmmaker, Shelley Saywell, made a documentary about their meeting. There is also a blog entry that shares this story. On November 10, 1994, Kim Phúc was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Her biography, The Girl in the Picture, was written by Denise Chong and published in 1999. In 2003, Belgian composer Eric Geurts wrote “The Girl in the Picture,” dedicated to Kim Phúc. It was released on Flying Snowman Records, with all profits going to the Kim Phúc Foundation. On October 22, 2004, Kim Phúc was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law from York University in Toronto, Ontario, for her work to support child victims of war around the world.
She was also awarded the Order of Ontario. On October 27, 2005, she was awarded another honorary degree in Law from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. On June 2, 2011 she was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Lethbridge.
The Girl in the Picture
The Girl in the Picture: The Kim Phúc Story, the Photograph and the Vietnam War by Denise Chong is a 1999 biographical and historical work tracing the life story of Kim Phúc. Chong’s historical coverage emphasizes the life, especially the school and family life, of Kim Phúc from before the attack, through convalescence, and into the present time.
The Girl in the Picture deals primarily with Vietnamese and American relationships during the Vietnam War, while examining themes of war, racism, immigration, political turmoil, repression, poverty, and international relationships through the lens of family and particularly through the eyes and everyday lives of women. Kim Phúc and her mother, Nu, provide the lens through which readers of The Girl in the Picture experience war, strife, and the development of communism in Vietnam. Like Chong’s first book, The Girl in the Picture was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for non fiction.
On the 40th anniversary of that Pulitzer Prize-winning photo in September 2012, Ut became the third person inducted by the Leica Hall of Fame for his contributions to photojournalism.
Born in Long An, Viet Nam, Ut began to take photographs for the Associated Press when he was 16, just after his older brother Huynh Thanh My, another AP photographer, was killed in Vietnam. Ut himself was wounded three times in the war in his knee, arm, and stomach. Ut has since worked for the Associated Press in Tokyo, South Korea, and Hanoi and still maintains contact with Kim Phuc, who now resides in Canada.
Before delivering his film with the Kim Phúc photo, he took her to the hospital. The publication of the photo was delayed due to the AP bureau’s debate about transmitting a naked girl’s photo over the wire:
…an editor at the AP rejected the photo of Kim Phuc running down the road without clothing because it showed frontal nudity. Pictures of nudes of all ages and sexes, and especially frontal views were an absolute no-no at the Associated Press in 1972… Horst argued by telex with the New York head-office that an exception must be made, with the compromise that no close-up of the girl Kim Phuc alone would be transmitted. The New York photo editor, Hal Buell, agreed that the news value of the photograph overrode any reservations about nudity.
— Nick Ut
Audiotapes of then-president Richard Nixon in conversation with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, show that Nixon doubted the veracity of the photograph, musing whether it may have been “fixed.” Following the release of this tape, Ut commented:
“Even though it has become one of the most memorable images of the twentieth century, President Nixon once doubted the authenticity of my photograph when he saw it in the papers on June 12, 1972…. The picture for me and unquestionably for many others could not have been more real. The photo was as authentic as the Vietnam war itself. The horror of the Vietnam war recorded by me did not have to be fixed. That terrified little girl is still alive today and has become an eloquent testimony to the authenticity of that photo. That moment thirty years ago will be one Kim Phuc and I will never forget. It has ultimately changed both our lives.”
— Nick Ut
Family and later career
Ut is a United States citizen and is married with two children. He lives in Los Angeles, and remains an AP photographer. His photos of a crying Paris Hilton in the back seat of a Los Angeles County Sheriff‘s cruiser on June 8, 2007 were published worldwide; however, Ut was photographing Hilton alongside photographer Karl Larsen. Two photographs emerged; the more famous photo of Hilton was credited to Ut despite being Larsen’s photo.
Jan Palach – self-Immolation Jan Palach (11 August 1948 – 19 January 1969; Czech pronunciation: [jan ˈpalax]) was a Czech student of history and political economy at Charles University. He committed self-immolation as a political protest against the end of the Prague Spring resulting from the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact armies. … Continue reading Pictures that changed the World – Jan Palach – self-Immolation→
The beauty of our little planet , in our little insignificant corner of the Milky Way is all the more beautiful because its our HOME. Earthrise : Earthrise is a photograph of the Earth taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. Nature photographer Galen Rowell declared it “the most influential … Continue reading Earthrise from moon – Pictures that changed the World→
West Bank Settlers Photographer: Oded Balilty Year: 2007 Pulitzer A lone Jewish woman defies Israeli security forces as they remove illegal settlers in the West Bank. See Bottom of page for West Bank Background & History —————————————————– Oded Balilty Oded Balilty (Hebrew: עודד בלילטי, born 1979, Jerusalem) is an Israeli documentary photographer. He is an … Continue reading Pictures that changed the World – West Bank Settlers→
911 The Falling Man 9/11: The Falling Man –  – Full Documentary The Falling Man Their Final Journey (9/11 Jumpers) The photograph of The Falling Man For the Don DeLillo novel, see Falling Man (novel). For another use, see The Falling Soldier. The Falling Man is a photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Richard … Continue reading Pictures that changed the world – 911 The Falling Man→
Dr Fritz Klein in a mass grave Bergen-Belsen concentration camp Fritz Klein (24 November 1888 – 13 December 1945) was a German Nazi physician hanged for his role in atrocities at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Holocaust. Early life and education Klein was born in Feketehalom, Austria-Hungary (now Codlea in central Romania). Klein was considered … Continue reading Pictures that changed the World – Dr Fritz Klein in a mass grave→
Sudanese Child and Vulture March 1993 By Kevin Carter This one photograph earned Kevin Carter Pulitzer as it perfectly summed up the not-so-perfect cruelty of the infamous famine in Sudan. But the photographer could not accept the fame that came with this photograph and sadly he ended his life within 3 months. Kevin Carter (13 … Continue reading Pictures that Changed the World – Sudanese Child and Vulture→
Hanged for atrocities committed at Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz and other concentration camps
Klein and 44 other camp staff were tried in the Belsen Trial by a British military court at Lüneburg. The trial lasted several weeks from September to November 1945. During the trial Anita Lasker testified that he took part in selections for the gas chamber. He was sentenced to death and hanged at Hamelin jail by Albert Pierrepoint on 13 December 1945.
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
Bergen-Belsen (or Belsen) was a Nazi concentration camp in what is today Lower Saxony in northern Germany, southwest of the town of Bergen near Celle. Originally established as a prisoner of war camp, in 1943, parts of it became a concentration camp. Initially this was an “exchange camp”, where Jewish hostages were held with the intention of exchanging them for German prisoners of war held overseas. The camp was later expanded to accommodate Jews from other concentration camps.
After 1945, the name was applied to the displaced persons camp established nearby, but it is most commonly associated with the concentration camp. From 1941 to 1945, almost 20,000 Sovietprisoners of war and a further 50,000 inmates died there, with up to 35,000 of them dying of typhus in the first few months of 1945, shortly before and after the liberation.
The camp was liberated on April 15, 1945, by the British 11th Armoured Division. The soldiers discovered approximately 60,000 prisoners inside, most of them half-starved and seriously ill, and another 13,000 corpses lying around the camp unburied. The horrors of the camp, documented on film and in pictures, made the name “Belsen” emblematic of Nazi crimes in general for public opinion in many countries in the immediate post-1945 period. Today, there is a memorial with an exhibition hall at the site.
Prisoner of war camp
In 1935, the Wehrmacht began to build a large military complex close to the village of Belsen, a part of the town of Bergen, in what was then the Province of Hanover. This became the largest military training area in Germany of the time and was used for armoured vehicle training. The barracks were finished in 1937. The camp has been in continuous operation since then and is today known as Bergen-Hohne Training Area. It is used by the NATO armed forces.
The workers who constructed the original buildings were housed in camps near Fallingbostel and Bergen, the latter being the so-called Bergen-Belsen Army Construction Camp. Once the military complex was completed in 1938/39, the workers’ camp fell into disuse. However, after the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Wehrmacht began using the huts as a prisoner of war (POW) camp.
The camp of huts near Fallingbostel became known as Stalag XI-B and was to become one of the Wehrmacht ’s largest POW camps, holding up to 95,000 prisoners from various countries. In June 1940, Belgian and French POWs were housed in the former Bergen-Belsen construction workers’ camp. This installation was significantly expanded from June 1941, once Germany prepared to invade the Soviet Union, becoming an independent camp known as Stalag XI-C (311). It was intended to hold up to 20,000 Soviet POWs and was one of three such camps in the area. The others were at Oerbke (Stalag XI-D (321)) and Wietzendorf (Stalag X-D (310)). By the end of March 1942, some 41,000 Soviet POWs had died in these three camps of starvation, exhaustion, and disease. By the end of the war, the total number of dead had increased to 50,000. When the POW camp in Bergen ceased operation in early 1945, as the Wehrmacht handed it over to the SS, the cemetery contained over 19,500 dead Soviet prisoners.
In the summer of 1943, Stalag XI-C (311) was dissolved and Bergen-Belsen became a branch camp of Stalag XI-B. It served as the hospital for all Soviet POWs in the region until January 1945. Other inmates/patients were Italian military internees from August 1944 and, following the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising in October 1944, around 1,000 members of the Polish Home Army were imprisoned in a separate section of the POW camp.
In April 1943, a part of the Bergen-Belsen camp was taken over by the SS Economic-Administration Main Office (SS Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt; WVHA). It thus became part of the concentration camp system, run by the SS Schutzstaffel but it was a special case. Having initially been designated a Zivilinterniertenlager (“civilian internment camp”), in June 1943 it was redesignated Aufenthaltslager (“holding camp”), since the Geneva Conventions stipulated that the former type of facility must be open to inspection by international committees. This “holding camp” or “exchange camp” was for Jews who were intended to be exchanged for German civilians interned in other countries, or for hard currency. The SS divided this camp into subsections for individual groups (the “Hungarian camp”, the “special camp” for Polish Jews, the “neutrals camp” for citizens of neutral countries and the “Star camp” for Dutch Jews). Between the summer of 1943 and December 1944 at least 14,600 Jews, including 2,750 children and minors were transported to the Bergen-Belsen “holding” or exchange camp.:160 Inmates were made to work, many of them in the “shoe commando” which salvaged usable pieces of leather from shoes collected and brought to the camp from all over Germany and occupied Europe. In general the prisoners of this part of the camp were treated less harshly than some other classes of Bergen-Belsen prisoner until fairly late in the war, due to their perceived potential exchange value. However, only around 2,560 Jewish prisoners were ever actually released from Bergen-Belsen and allowed to leave Germany.
In March 1944, part of the camp was redesignated as an Erholungslager (“recovery camp”), where prisoners too sick to work were brought from other concentration camps. Supposedly, they were in Belsen to recover and then to return to their original camps, and to resume work. However, a large number of them actually died of disease, starvation, exhaustion and lack of medical attention.
In August 1944, a new section was created and this became the so-called “women’s camp”. By November 1944 this camp received around 9,000 women and young girls. Most of those who were able to work stayed only for a short while and were then sent on to other concentration camps or slave-labour camps. The first women interned there were Poles, arrested after the failed Warsaw Uprising. Others were Jewish women from Poland or Hungary, transferred from Auschwitz. Among those who never left Bergen-Belsen were Margot and Anne Frank, who died there in February or March 1945.
In December 1944 SS-HauptsturmführerJosef Kramer, previously at Auschwitz-Birkenau, became the new camp commandant, replacing SS-HauptsturmführerAdolf Haas (de), who had been in post since the spring of 1943. In January 1945, the SS took over the POW hospital and increased the size of Bergen-Belsen. As eastern concentration camps were evacuated before the advance of the Red Army, at least 85,000 people were transported in cattle cars or marched to Bergen-Belsen. Before that the number of prisoners at Belsen had been much smaller. In July 1944 there were just 7,300, by December 1944 the number had increased to 15,000 and by February 1945 it had risen to 22,000. However, it then soared to around 60,000 by April 15, 1945. This overcrowding led to a vast increase in deaths from disease: particularly typhus, as well as tuberculosis, typhoid fever, dysentery and malnutrition in a camp originally designed to hold about 10,000 inmates. At this point also, the special status of the exchange prisoners no longer applied. All inmates were subject to starvation and epidemics.
Außenlager (satellite camps)
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp had three satellite camps. These were located at regional armament works. Around 2,000 female concentration camp prisoners were forced to work there. Those who were too weak or sick to continue with their work were brought to Bergen-Belsen.:204–205
Außenlager Bomlitz-Benefeld at Bomlitz near Fallingbostel was in use from 3 September to 15 October 1944. It was located at the facility of Eibia GmbH, a gunpowder works. Around 600 female Polish Jews were used for construction and production work.:204
Außenlager Hambühren-Ovelgönne (Lager III, Waldeslust) at Hambühren south of Winsen was in use from 23 August 1944 to 4 February 1945. It was an abandoned potash mine, now intended as an underground production site for Bremen plane manufacturer Focke-Wulf. Around 400 prisoners, mostly female Polish or Hungarian Jews, were forced to prepare the facility and to help lay train tracks to it. This was done for the company Hochtief.:204
Außenlager Unterlüß-Altensothrieth (Tannenberglager) east of Bergen was in use from late August 1944 to 13 April 1945. It was located at Unterlüß, where the Rheinmetall-Borsig AG had a large test site. Up to 900 female Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Yugoslavian and Czech Jews had to clear forest, do construction work or work in munitions production.:204
Prisoners were guarded by SS staff and received no wages for their work. The companies instead reimbursed the SS for the labour supplied. Wage taxes were also levied by local authorities.:204–205
Treatment of prisoners and deaths in the camp
Current estimates put the number of prisoners who passed through the concentration camp during its period of operation from 1943 to 1945 at around 120,000. Due to the destruction of the camp’s files by the SS, not even half of them, around 55,000, are known by name.:269 As mentioned above, treatment of prisoners by the SS varied between individual sections of the camp, with the inmates of the exchange camp generally being better treated than other prisoners, at least initially. However, in October 1943 the SS selected 1,800 men and women from the Sonderlager (“special camp”), Jews from Poland who held passports from Latin American countries. Since the governments of these nations mostly refused to honour the passports, these people had lost their value to the regime. Under the pretext of sending them to a fictitious “Lager Bergau”, the SS had them transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were sent directly to the gas chambers and killed. In February and May 1944 another 350 prisoners from the “special camp” were sent to Auschwitz. Thus, out of the total of 14,600 prisoners in the exchange camp, at least 3,550 died: over 1,400 of them at Belsen, and around 2,150 at Auschwitz.:187
In the Männerlager (the male section of the “recovery camp”), inmates suffered even more from lack of care, malnourishment, disease and mistreatment by the guards. Thousands of them died. In the summer of 1944, at least 200 men were killed by orders of the SS by being injected with phenol.:196
There were no gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen, since the mass killings took place in the camps further east. Nevertheless, current estimates put the number of deaths at Belsen at more than 50,000 Jews, Czechs, Poles, anti-Nazi Christians, homosexuals, and Roma and Sinti (Gypsies). Among them was Czech painter and writer Josef Čapek (estimated to be in April 1945).
The rate at which inmates died at Belsen accelerated notably after the mass transport of prisoners from other camps began in December 1944. From 1943 to the end of 1944 around 3,100 died. From January to mid-April 1945 this rose to around 35,000. Another 14,000 died after liberation between April 15 and the end of June 1945 (see below).:233
Deaths at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp December 1944 to April 15, 1945:232–233
at least 360
at least 18,168
After the war, there were allegations that the camp (or possibly a section of it), was “of a privileged nature”, compared to others. A lawsuit filed by the Jewish community in Thessaloniki against 55 alleged collaborators claims that 53 of them were sent to Bergen-Belsen “as a special favor” granted by the Germans.
British and German officers finalize the arrangements for the ending of their temporary truce, April 1945
Women survivors in Bergen-Belsen, April 1945
Former guards are made to load the bodies of dead prisoners onto a truck for burial, April 17–18, 1945
Some of the 60 tables, each staffed by two German doctors and two German nurses, at which the sick were washed and deloused, May 1–4, 1945
A crowd watches the destruction of the last camp hut
When the British and Canadians advanced on Bergen-Belsen in 1945, the German army negotiated a truce and exclusion zone around the camp to prevent the spread of typhus. On April 11, 1945 Heinrich Himmler (the Reichsführer SS) agreed to have the camp handed over without a fight. SS guards ordered prisoners to bury some of the dead. The next day, Wehrmacht representatives approached the British and were brought to VIII Corps. At around 1 a.m. on April 13, an agreement was signed, designating an area of 48 square kilometers (19 square miles) around the camp as a neutral zone. Most of the SS were allowed to leave. Only a small number of SS men and women, including the camp commandant Kramer, remained to “uphold order inside the camp”. The outside was guarded by Hungarian and regular German troops. Due to heavy fighting near Winsen and Walle, the British were unable to reach Bergen-Belsen on April 14, as originally planned. The camp was liberated on the afternoon of April 15, 1945.:253 The first two to reach the camp were a British Special Air Service officer, Lieutenant John Randall, and his jeep driver, who were on a reconnaissance mission and discovered the camp by chance.
When British and Canadian troops finally entered they found over 13,000 unburied bodies and (including the satellite camps) around 60,000 inmates, most acutely sick and starving. The prisoners had been without food or water for days before the Allied arrival partially due to the allied bombing. In the period immediately preceding and following liberation, prisoners were dying at a rate of around 500 per day, mostly from typhus. The scenes that greeted British troops were described by the BBC’sRichard Dimbleby, who accompanied them:
…Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which… The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them … Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live … A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days.This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.
Initially lacking sufficient manpower, the British allowed the Hungarians to remain in charge and only commandant Kramer was arrested. Subsequently SS and Hungarian guards shot and killed some of the starving prisoners who were trying to get their hands on food supplies from the store houses. The British started to provide emergency medical care, clothing and food. Immediately following the liberation, revenge killings took place in the satellite camp the SS had created in the area of the army barracks that later became Hohne-Camp. Around 15,000 prisoners from Mittelbau-Dora had been relocated there in early April. These prisoners were in much better physical condition than most of the others. Some of these men turned on those who had been their overseers at Mittelbau. About 170 of these “Kapos” were killed on April 15, 1945.:62 On April 20, four German fighter planes attacked the camp, damaging the water supply and killing three British medical orderlies.:261
Over the next days the surviving prisoners were deloused and moved to a nearby German Panzer army camp, which became the Bergen-Belsen DP (displaced persons) camp. Over a period of four weeks, almost 29,000 of the survivors were moved there. Before the handover, the SS had managed to destroy the camp’s administrative files, thereby eradicating most written evidence.
The British forced the former SS camp personnel to help bury the thousands of dead bodies in mass graves. Some civil servants from Celle and Landkreis Celle were brought to Belsen and confronted with the crimes committed on their doorstep.:262 Military photographers and cameramen of “No. 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit” documented the conditions in the camp and the measures of the British Army to ameliorate them. Many of the pictures they took and the films they made from April 15 to June 9, 1945 were published or shown abroad. Today, the originals are in the Imperial War Museum. These documents had a lasting impact on the international perception and memory of Nazi concentration camps to this day.:243 According to Habbo Knoch, head of the institution that runs the memorial today: “Bergen-Belsen […] became a synonym world-wide for German crimes committed during the time of Nazi rule.”:9
In spite of massive efforts to help the survivors with food and medical treatment, led by Brigadier Glyn Hughes, Deputy Director of Medical Services of 2nd Army, about another 9,000 died in April, and by the end of June 1945 another 4,000 had succumbed (after liberation a total of 13,994 people died).:305
Two specialist teams were dispatched from Britain to deal with the feeding problem. The first, led by Dr A. P. Meiklejohn, included 96 medical student volunteers from London teaching hospitals who were later credited with significantly reducing the death rate amongst prisoners. A research team led by Dr Janet Vaughan was dispatched by the Medical Research Council to test the effectiveness of various feeding regimes.
The British troops and medical staff tried these diets to feed the prisoners, in this order:
Bully beef from Army rations. Most of the prisoners’ digestive systems were in too weak a state from long-term starvation to handle such food.
Skimmed milk. The result was a bit better, but still far from acceptable.
Bengal Famine Mixture. This is a rice-and-sugar-based mixture which had achieved good results after the Bengal famine of 1943, but it proved less suitable to Europeans than to Bengalis because of the differences in the food to which they were accustomed. Adding the common ingredient paprika to the mixture made it more palatable to these people and recovery started.
Some were too weak to even consume the Bengal Famine Mixture. Intravenous feeding was attempted but abandoned – SS Doctors had previously used injections to murder prisoners so some became hysterical at the sight of the intraveneous feeding equipment.
Many of the former SS staff who survived the typhus epidemic were tried by the British at the Belsen Trial. Over the period in which Bergen-Belsen operated as a concentration camp, at least 480 people had worked as guards or members of the commandant’s staff, including around 45 women. From September 17 to November 17, 1945, 45 of those were tried by a military tribunal in Lüneburg. They included former commandant Josef Kramer, 16 other SS male members, 16 female SS guards and 12 former kapos (one of whom became ill during the trial). Among them were Irma Grese, Elisabeth Volkenrath, Hertha Ehlert, Ilse Lothe (de), Johanna Bormann and Fritz Klein. Many of the defendants were not just charged with crimes committed at Belsen but also earlier ones at Auschwitz. Their activities at other concentration camps such as Mittelbau Dora, Ravensbrück, Neuengamme, the Gross Rosen subcamps at Neusalz and Langenleuba, and the Mittelbau-Dora subcamp at Gross Werther were not subject of the trial. It was based on British military law and the charges were thus limited to war crimes. Substantial media coverage of the trial provided the German and international public with detailed information on the mass killings at Belsen as well as on the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Eleven of the defendants were sentenced to death. They included Kramer, Volkenrath and Klein. The executions by hanging took place on December 13, 1945 in Hamelin. Fourteen defendants were acquitted (one was excluded from the trial due to illness). Of the remaining 19, one was sentenced to life in prison but he was executed for another crime. Eighteen were sentenced to prison for periods of one to 15 years; however, most of these sentences were subsequently reduced significantly on appeals or pleas for clemency. By June 1955, the last of those sentenced in the Belsen trial had been released.:37 Nine other members of the Belsen personnel were tried by later military tribunals in 1946 and 1948.
A memorial stone erected near the ramps where prisoners for Belsen were unloaded from goods trains
Denazification courts were created by the Allies to try members of the SS and other Nazi organisations. Between 1947 and 1949 these courts initiated proceedings against at least 46 former SS staff at Belsen. Around half of these were discontinued, mostly because the defendants were considered to have been forced to join the SS.:39 Those who were sentenced received prison terms of between four and 36 months or were fined. As the judges decided to count the time the defendants had spent in Allied internment towards the sentence, the terms were considered to have already been fully served.
Only one trial was ever held by a German court for crimes committed at Belsen, at Jena in 1949; the defendant was acquitted. More than 200 other SS members who were at Belsen have been known by name but never had to stand trial. No Wehrmacht soldier was ever put on trial for crimes committed against the inmates of the POW camps at Bergen-Belsen and in the region around it, despite the fact that the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg had found in 1946 that the treatment of Soviet POWs by the Wehrmacht constituted a war crime.:39
The area of the former Bergen-Belsen camp fell into neglect after the burning of the buildings and the closure of the nearby displaced persons’ camp in the summer of 1950. The area reverted to heath; few traces of the camp remained. However, as early as May 1945, the British had erected large signs at the former camp site. Ex-prisoners began to set up monuments. A first wooden memorial was built by Jewish DPs in September 1945, followed by one made in stone, dedicated on the first anniversary of the liberation in 1946. On November 2, 1945, a large wooden cross was dedicated as a memorial to the murdered Polish prisoners. Also by the end of 1945 the Soviets had built a memorial at the entrance to the POW cemetery. A memorial to the Italian POWs followed in 1950, but was removed when the bodies were reinterred in a Hamburg cemetery.
One of several mass graves on the site of the former camp. The sign simply reads: Here lie 5,000 dead. April 1945.
The British military authorities ordered the construction of a permanent memorial in September 1945 after having been lambasted by the press for the desolate state of the camp.:41 In the summer of 1946, a commission presented the design plan, which included the obelisk and memorial walls. The memorial was finally inaugurated in a large ceremony in November 1952, with the participation of Germany’s president Theodor Heuss, who called on the Germans never to forget what had happened at Belsen.:41
However, for a long time remembering Bergen-Belsen was not a political priority. Periods of attention were followed by long phases of official neglect. For much of the 1950s, Belsen “was increasingly forgotten as a place of remembrance”. Only after 1957, large groups of young people visited the place where Anne Frank had died. Then, after anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled on the Cologne synagogue over Christmas 1959, German chancellor Konrad Adenauer followed a suggestion by Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, and for the very first time visited the site of a former concentration camp. In a speech at the Bergen-Belsen memorial, Adenauer assured the Jews still living in Germany that they would have the same respect and security as everyone else.:42 Afterwards, the German public saw the Belsen memorial as primarily a Jewish place of remembrance. Nevertheless, the memorial was redesigned in 1960–61. In 1966, a document centre was opened which offered a permanent exhibition on the persecution of the Jews, with a focus on events in the nearby Netherlands – where Anne Frank and her family had been arrested in 1944. This was complemented by an overview of the history of the Bergen-Belsen camp. This was the first ever permanent exhibit anywhere in Germany on the topic of Nazi crimes.:42 However, there was still no scientific personnel at the site, with only a caretaker as permanent staff. Memorial events were only organized by the survivors themselves.
In October 1979, the president of the European ParliamentSimone Veil, herself a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, came to the memorial for a speech which focused on the Nazi persecution of Roma and Sinti. This was the first time that an official event in Germany acknowledged this aspect of the Nazi era.
In 1985, international attention was focused on Bergen-Belsen when the camp was hastily included in Ronald Reagan‘s itinerary when he visited West Germany after a controversy about a visit to a cemetery where the interred included members of the Waffen SS (see Bitburg). Shortly before Reagan’s visit on May 5, there had been a large memorial event on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, which had been attended by German president Richard von Weizsäcker and chancellor Helmut Kohl.:44 In the aftermath of these events, the parliament of Lower Saxony decided to expand the exhibition centre and to hire permanent scientific staff. In 1990, the permanent exhibition was replaced by a new version and a larger document building was opened.
Only in 2000 did the Federal Government of Germany begin to financially support the memorial. Co-financed by the state of Lower Saxony, a complete redesign was planned which was intended to be more in line with contemporary thought on exhibition design. On April 15, 2005, there was a ceremony, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation and many ex-prisoners and ex-liberating troops attended. In October 2007, the redesigned memorial site was opened, including a large new Documentation Centre and permanent exhibition on the edge of the newly redefined camp, whose structure and layout can now be traced. Since 2009, the memorial has been receiving funding from the Federal government on an ongoing basis.
The Jewish Memorial at the site of the former camp, decorated with wreaths on Liberation Day, April 15, 2012
The site is open to the public and includes monuments to the dead, including a successor to the wooden cross of 1945, some individual memorial stones and a “House of Silence” for reflection. In addition to the Jewish, Polish and Dutch national memorials, a memorial to eight Turkish citizens who were killed at Belsen was dedicated in December 2012.
The liberation of Bergen-Belsen, April 1945
The British comedian Michael Bentine, who took part in the liberation of the camp, wrote this on his encounter with Belsen:
We were headed for an airstrip outside Celle, a small town, just past Hanover. We had barely cranked to a halt and started to set up the “ops” tent, when the Typhoons thundered into the circuit and broke formation for their approach. As they landed on the hastily repaired strip – a “Jock” [Scottish] doctor raced up to us in his jeep.
“Got any medical orderlies?” he shouted above the roar of the aircraft engines. “Any K rations or vitaminised chocolate?”
“What’s up?” I asked for I could see his face was grey with shock.
“Concentration camp up the road,” he said shakily, lighting a cigarette. “It’s dreadful – just dreadful.” He threw the cigarette away untouched. “I’ve never seen anything so awful in my life. You just won’t believe it ’til you see it – for God’s sake come and help them!”
“What’s it called?” I asked, reaching for the operations map to mark the concentration camp safely out of the danger area near the bomb line. “Belsen,” he said, simply.
Millions of words have been written about these horror camps, many of them by inmates of those unbelievable places. I’ve tried, without success, to describe it from my own point of view, but the words won’t come. To me Belsen was the ultimate blasphemy.
After VE. Day I flew up to Denmark with Kelly, a West Indian pilot who was a close friend. As we climbed over Belsen, we saw the flame-throwing Bren carriers trundling through the camp – burning it to the ground. Our light Bf 108 rocked in the superheated air, as we sped above the curling smoke, and Kelly had the last words on it.
I saw my father beaten by the SS, and I lost most of my family there… A ransom deal that the Americans attempted saved 2,000 Jews and I was one. I actually went into the gas chamber, but was reprieved. God knows why.
In his book From Belsen to Buckingham PalacePaul Oppenheimer tells of the events leading up to the internment of his whole family at the camp and their incarceration there between February 1944 and April 1945, when he was aged 14–15. Following publication of the book, Oppenheimer personally talked to many groups and schools about the events he witnessed. This work is now continued by his brother Rudi, who shared the experiences.
This one photograph earned Kevin Carter Pulitzer as it perfectly summed up the not-so-perfect cruelty of the infamous famine in Sudan. But the photographer could not accept the fame that came with this photograph and sadly he ended his life within 3 months.
Kevin Carter was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Carter grew up in a middle-class, whites-only neighborhood. As a child, he occasionally saw police raids to arrest blacks who were illegally living in the area. He said later that he questioned how his parents, a Catholic, “liberal” family, could be what he described as ‘lackadaisical’ about fighting against apartheid.
After high school, Carter dropped out of his studies to become a pharmacist and was drafted into the army. To escape from the infantry, he enlisted in the Air Force in which he served four years. In 1980, he witnessed a black mess-hall waiter being insulted. Carter defended the man, resulting in him being badly beaten by the other servicemen. He then went AWOL, attempting to start a new life as a radio disk-jockey named “David”. This, however, proved more difficult than he had anticipated. Soon after, he decided to serve out the rest of his required military service. After witnessing the Church Street bombing in Pretoria in 1983, he decided to become a news photographer and journalist
Carter had started to work as a weekend sports photographer in 1983. In 1984, he moved on to work for the Johannesburg Star, bent on exposing the brutality of apartheid.
Carter was the first to photograph a public execution “necklacing” by black Africans in South Africa in the mid-1980s. Carter later spoke of the images: “I was appalled at what they were doing. But then people started talking about those pictures… then I felt that maybe my actions hadn’t been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing to do.”
In March 1993, while on a trip to Sudan, Carter was preparing to photograph a starving toddler trying to reach a feeding center when a hooded vulture landed nearby. Carter reported taking the picture, because it was his “job title”, and leaving. He was told not to touch the children for fear of transmitting disease. He committed suicide three months after winning the Pulitzer Prize.
Sold to The New York Times, the photograph first appeared on 26 March 1993 and was carried in many other newspapers around the world. Hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask the fate of the girl. The paper reported that it was unknown whether she had managed to reach the feeding centre. In April 1994, the photograph won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.
Alternative account of the photograph
João Silva, a Portuguese photojournalist based in South Africa who accompanied Carter to Sudan, gave a different version of events in an interview with Japanese journalist and writer Akio Fujiwara that was published in Fujiwara’s book The Boy who Became a Postcard (絵葉書にされた少年 – Ehagaki ni sareta shōnen).
According to Silva, Carter and Silva travelled to Sudan with the United Nations aboard Operation Lifeline Sudan and landed in Southern Sudan on 11 March 1993. The UN told them that they would take off again in 30 minutes (the time necessary to distribute food), so they ran around looking to take shots. The UN started to distribute corn and the women of the village came out of their wooden huts to meet the plane. Silva went looking for guerrilla fighters, while Carter strayed no more than a few meters from the plane.
Again according to Silva, Carter was quite shocked as it was the first time that he had seen a famine situation and so he took many shots of the suffering children. Silva also started to take photos of children on the ground as if crying, which were not published. The parents of the children were busy taking food from the plane, so they had left their children only briefly while they collected the food. This was the situation for the girl in the photo taken by Carter. A vulture landed behind the girl. To get the two in focus, Carter approached the scene very slowly so as not to scare the vulture away and took a photo from approximately 10 meters. He took a few more photos before chasing the bird away.
Two Spanish photographers who were in the same area at that time, José María Luis Arenzana and Luis DaVilla, without knowing the photograph of Kevin Carter, took a picture in a similar situation. As recounted on several occasions, it was a feeding center, and the vultures came from a manure waste pit .
On 27 July 1994 Carter drove his way to Parkmore near the Field and Study Center, an area where he used to play as a child, and committed suicide by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end to the driver’s side window. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 33. Portions of Carter’s suicide note read:
“I’m really, really sorry. The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist… depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners … I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.”
The photograph and footage were broadcast worldwide, galvanizing the anti-war movement; Adams won a 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his photograph.
South Vietnamese sources said that Lém commanded a Vietcong death squad, which on that day had targeted South Vietnamese National Police officers, or in their stead, the police officers’ families. Corroborating this, Lém was captured at the site of a mass grave that included the bodies of at least seven police family members. Photographer Adams confirmed the South Vietnamese account, although he was only present for the execution. Lém’s widow confirmed that her husband was a member of the National Liberation Front and she did not see him after the Tet Offensive began. Shortly after the execution, a South Vietnamese official who had not been present said that Lém was only a political operative.
Military lawyers have not agreed whether Loan’s action violated the Geneva Conventions for treatment of prisoners of war (Lém had not been wearing a proper uniform; nor was he, it is alleged, fighting enemy soldiers at the time), where POW status was granted independently of the laws of war; it was limited to National Liberation Front seized during military operations.
Nguyễn Ngọc Loan
Nguyễn Ngọc Loan (11 December 1930 – 14 July 1998) was South Vietnam‘s chief of National Police. Loan gained international attention when he executed handcuffed prisoner Nguyễn Văn Lém, a suspected Việt Cộng member. The photograph was taken on 1 February 1968 in front of Võ Sửu, a cameraman for NBC, and Eddie Adams, an Associated Press photographer. The photo (captioned “General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon”) and film would become two famous images in contemporary American journalism.
The Story Behind the Famous Saigon Execution Photo
Around 4:30 A.M., Nguyen Van Lem led a sabotage unit along with Viet Cong tanks to attack the Armor Camp in Go Vap. After communist troops took control of the base, Bay Lop arrested Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Tuan with his family and forced him to show them how to drive tanks. When Lieutenant Colonel Tuan refused to cooperate, Bay Lop killed all members of his family including his 80-year-old mother. There was only one survivor, a seriously injured 10-year-old boy.
Nguyen Van Lem was captured near a mass grave with 34 innocent civilian bodies. Lem admitted that he was proud to carry out his unit leader’s order to kill these people. Having personally witnessed the murder of one of his officers along with that man’s wife and three small children in cold blood, when Lém was captured and brought to him, General Loan summarily executed him using his sidearm, a .38 SpecialSmith & Wesson Model 38 “Airweight” revolver, in front of AP photographer Eddie Adams and NBC News television cameraman Vo Suu. The photograph and footage were broadcast worldwide, galvanizing the anti-war movement.
The photo won Adams the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography, though he was later said to have regretted its impact. The image became an anti-war icon. Concerning Loan and his famous photograph, Adams wrote in Time:
The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn’t say was, “What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?”
Adams later apologized in person to General Nguyễn and his family for the damage it did to his reputation. When Loan died of cancer in Virginia, Adams praised him:
“The guy was a hero. America should be crying. I just hate to see him go this way, without people knowing anything about him.”
Life after world infamy
A few months after the execution picture was taken, Loan was seriously wounded by machine gun fire that led to the amputation of his leg. Again his picture hit the world press, this time as Australian war correspondent Pat Burgess carried him back to his lines. In addition to his military service, Loan was an advocate for hospital construction.
In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Loan fled South Vietnam. He moved to the United States, and opened a pizza restaurant in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Burke, Virginia at Rolling Valley Mall called “Les Trois Continents.” In 1991, he was forced into retirement when he was recognized and his identity publicly disclosed. Photographer Eddie Adams recalled that on his last visit to the pizza parlor, he had seen written on a toilet wall,
“We know who you are, fucker”.
Nguyễn was married to Chinh Mai, with whom he raised five children. Nguyễn Ngọc Loan died of cancer on 14 July 1998, aged 67, in Burke, Virginia.
Sympathetic treatment of Loan
The 2010 book, This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive, offers a detailed, sympathetic picture of Loan, portraying him as a relatively honest and uncorrupted officer, who cleaned up and stabilized a difficult Saigon security situation. He was also a staunch South Vietnamese nationalist, refusing to give Americans special treatment in his jurisdiction.
For example, he rejected the arrest of a Vietnamese mayor by American military police and insisted that only South Vietnamese authorities could arrest and detain South Vietnamese citizens. He also insisted that U.S. civilians, including journalists, fell under South Vietnamese jurisdiction while in Saigon. Loan’s uncompromising stand caused him to be regarded as a troublemaker by the Johnson administration. Loan was also skeptical of the U.S. CIA-backed Phoenix Program to attack and neutralize the clandestine Vietcong infrastructure.
Loan’s men were also involved in the arrest of two NLF operatives, who had been engaged in peace feelers with U.S. officials, behind the back of the South Vietnamese. His stand against such “backdoor” dealing, and his opposition to releasing one of the communist negotiators, reportedly angered the Americans, and forced them to keep both him and the South Vietnamese better informed of diplomatic dealings involving their country. Loan was also an accomplished pilot, leading an airstrike on Việt Cộng forces at Bo Duc in 1967, shortly before he was promoted to permanent brigadier general rank. The Americans were displeased at his promotion, and Loan submitted his resignation shortly thereafter. According to the 2010 book:
“It was widely believed that Loan was being forced out by the Americans for exposing their dealings with the VC or that he was taking a stand on principle because the U.S. was trying to compel the government to release [communist envoy] Sau Ha.”
The South Vietnamese cabinet subsequently rejected Loan’s resignation. The United States under the Nixon administration was to later negotiate a separate deal with the North that left communist troops in good tactical position within South Vietnam, and forced acquiescence by the South Vietnamese. Later action by the U.S. Congress was to cut off aid to South Vietnam during the final northern conquest in 1975.