Wednesday April 22, 2020

Robert Capa by Walter Bernstein

“[As a correspondent for Yank Magazine during WWII], I did not write about cowardice or doubt or the mistakes of generals or the killing of prisoners or the alliance with the Mafia in the towns we took. Or about the corruption that always follows war. Or about my own fear or the shame I felt when I refused the chance to go with a unit stringing wire under heavy bombardment, knowing the casualties it would take. No one forced me to go anywhere; these men were the ones who had no choice.

”But then, as if to demonstrate the murderous indifference of war, that particular bombardment reached back to the command headquarters where I stayed, forcing everyone to leap for cover. I dived into a ravine and cowered while shells fell with a gleeful lack of discrimination. A man wearing a correspondent's patch and three cameras around his neck jumped in beside me. Instead of cowering, he stood and smiled at me. He ignored the death raining around us. It seemed not to be worth his attention. There was something very graceful about him. Even in this bedlam of artillery fire, he had an air of delicacy and tact. He noticed my fright—not difficult to do—and started gently talking to me. He wanted to know if I had read much Tolstoy. He made it seem as though given the circumstances, the question was entirely natural. I have no memory of how I answered, but he eased me through my terror. When the bombardment finally stopped and there were only the shouts and groans of the wounded, he smiled at me again and climbed nimbly out of the ravine. Afterward I found out his name was Robert Capa. I remembered his photographs of the Spanish Civil War. I never saw him again and was saddened, but not surprised, when years later I heard that he had been blown up covering the war in Vietnam.“

— Walter Bernstein, in his book ”Inside Out: a Memoir of the Blacklist"

Posted at 10:20 PM on Wednesday April 22, 2020 in category Books  
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