The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is proud to present Memories of World War II, Photographs from the Archives of THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, scheduled to open October 5, 2012 and run through January 19, 2013.
As veterans of World War II converged on Washington for the dedication of a memorial to global victory six decades ago, their achievements and sacrifice were further recalled in an exhibit of photographs from the archives of The Associated Press. Memories of World War II opened May 24, 2004 to the public at Washington’s Union Station, a week before the National World War II Memorial was ceremonially christened on the Mall. The exhibition has since traveled to more than twenty museums throughout the United States.
The AP exhibit is a spectrum of 126 photos from all theaters of the war and the home front, ranging from AP photographer Joe Rosenthal’s classic Iwo Jima flag raising in 1945 to scores of pictures not seen in decades.
“As far as we know, all of the pictures were transmitted at some time on AP wires, but some probably have not been touched since the war,” said Charles Zoeller, curator of the exhibit and an accompanying book, and chief of AP’s vast photo library.
Founded in 1848, the AP is the world’s oldest and largest newsgathering organization, serving some 15,000 media outlets in more than 120 countries.
In the exhibit, familiar scenes of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, along with British and American troops hitting Normandy beaches on D-Day and marching through newly liberated Paris, are juxtaposed with hidden surprises sure to evoke strong memories among older Americans. There are photographs of Hitler and Mussolini at the peak of fascist power, Winston Churchill in unmistakable silhouette, actor James Stewart being inducted into the military, Nazi SS troops herding defiant Jews after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, and Russian women laying flowers at the feet of four dead GIs who helped liberate them from a slave labor camp. Despite censorship that delayed the release of pictures and restricted caption information, the wartime cameras recorded dramatic close-ups of power and pathos, the leaders and the lost. President Franklin Roosevelt, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and Churchill sit for a group portrait at Tehran. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth clamber through London bomb rubble. Gen. Douglas McArthur wades ashore in the Philippines. In Cherbourg, France, Army Capt. Earl Topley gazes at a German soldier sitting dead in a doorway. Dead Japanese soldiers lie half-buried in sand on a Guadalcanal beach; dead U.S. Marines sprawl in the volcanic ash of Iwo Jima.
In the foreword to a book that has 170 photographs and also is titled, “Memories of World War II” (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.), former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole says the pictures have greater impact for being in black and white. “The causes and objectives of the United States and our Allies in World War II were just that, black and white, good against evil,” writes Dole, who was severely wounded in Italy in 1945.
The photos are “personal history relived” for those who fought the war and millions more for whom it was “part of their lives,” Dole writes. “For many millions more, the postwar generations, who know the war only as distant history, these images will serve as the record of a shared and shaping era in our nation’s history.”
Many photos credit AP staff photographers by name; others came from anonymous Army or Navy photographers. Some were killed in combat; others went on to postwar prominence in their craft. “You had the same fears as the GIs, but you had to think about the picture,” says retired AP photojournalist Max Desfor, who covered the battle of Okinawa and Japan’s surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri, and later won a Pulitzer Prize in Korea. “My camera was my shield, and I didn’t even think about the idea that a bullet might hit me.”
In an introduction to the book, retired CBS anchor Walter Cronkite praises the courage of journalists who shared danger with the troops. “Indeed, if there were no correspondents or photographers who went to war, what would the folks at home know ... what would future generations know?” writes Cronkite, who covered the war for AP’s then rival, United Press.
The showing here at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is part of national tour that began in 2005 and is made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.. The exhibition of 126 photographic reproductions from the Associated Press has traveled to more than twenty museums and will continue to travel through 2013. The tour was developed and managed by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services, an exhibition tour development company in Kansas City, Missouri.
In addition to the exhibition, two lectures are planned. On Thursday October 25th at 7pm, author Robert M. Edsel will be the speaker for the Ninth Annual James E. O'Neill Jr. Memorial Lecture entitled “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in the History”. His lecture tells the story of the Monuments Men – a group of art lovers who chased down great works stolen by Nazis during World War II and saved great art from ultimate destruction. Author of The Monuments Men (2009), Edsel established a foundation in the group’s honor, which in 2007 became one of ten recipients of the National Humanities Medal. He is currently at work on his third book, slated to be published in spring 2013. This lecture will take place in the Malcolm Field Performing Arts Theatre on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University and is co-sponsored by the Field Neurosciences Institute and the Dow Visiting Scholars & Artists Program.
Local historian Eric Jylha will speak about Great Lakes Region Bay Region’s contributions to the war effort on Thursday, November 1st at 4pm in Rhea Miller Recital Hall located on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University. Both lectures are free and open to the public.
For more information, call (989) 964-7125 or visit the Museum’s website at marshallfredericks.org