You can read about history all you want, but nothing really captures what happened quite like seeing it first hand. That’s why history textbooks are packed with photographs.
These photos of rare historical moments will give you a new appreciation of history, and maybe a new perspective. They’re touching, enlightening, and heartbreaking all at once. Just have a look.
On July 22, 1975 in Boston, a 19-year-old and her 2-year-old goddaughter were trapped in a burning building. A firefighter shielded them from the flames as a fire ladder inched closer. Then the fire escape collapsed. The woman died from her injuries, but her two-year-old goddaughter survived because she landed on the woman’s body. It’s tragic, going from the hope of immediate rescue to a deadly fall in seconds.
The photograph, which is a part of a series, shows 19-year-old Diana Bryant and her 2-year-old goddaughter Tiare Jones falling from the collapsed fire escape of a burning apartment on Marlborough Street in Boston. The fire escape at the fifth floor collapsed as a turntable ladder was extending to pick up the two at the height of approximately 50 feet (15 meters). Bryant died from her injuries, but Jones survived the fall, which was softened by her landing on Bryant’s body. The photo also shows falling potted plants.
The baby survived because she landed on the woman’s body.
The photographs were awarded the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography as well as World Press Photo of the Year. The photo was taken with a motorized camera. It was first published in the Boston Herald and then in newspapers around the world to much hostile reader reaction. The media was charged with invading the privacy of Diana Bryant and pandering to sensationalism. The picture also prompted officials in Boston to rewrite its laws regarding fire escape safety. Fire safety groups around the country used the photo to promote similar efforts in other cities.
Actress Marlene Dietrich kisses a soldier returning home from war, 1945
This photo shows Marlene Dietrich passionately kissing a GI as he arrives home from World War II. It seems that the guy on the left holding her up is enjoying the view. It was first published in Life Magazine with the caption: “While soldiers hold her up by her famous legs, Marlene Dietrich is kissed by a home-coming GI”. Photo taken by Irving Haberman.
The priest and the dying soldier, 1962
Navy chaplain Luis Padillo gives last rites to a soldier wounded by sniper fire during a revolt in Venezuela. Braving the streets amid sniper fire, to offer last rites to the dying, the priest encountered a wounded soldier, who pulled himself up by clinging to the priest’s cassock, as bullets chewed up the concrete around them. The photographer Hector Rondón Lovera, who had to lie flat to avoid getting shot, later said that he was unsure how he managed to take this picture. The Catholic priest, Luis Padillo, would walk the streets, even through sniper fire, offering last rites to the fighters. Besides priest’s bravery, he also knows the enemy will think a lot before shooting him (just imagine the propaganda) and the enemy soldiers are catholic and would refuse that order.
Even more intense about this picture is the setting, in the background is a carnicería (a butcher’s shop). In Spanish acarnicería means both a “butcher’s shop” and “slaughter, carnage”. The phrase “fue una carnicería” (English equivalent: “it was carnage”) is so common in the Spanish language. The parallel really catches one’s eye and draws the horror of the scene even further.
The photo was taken on June 4 (1962) by Hector Rondón Lovera, photographer of Caracas, for the Venezuelan newspaper, La Republica. It won the World Press Photo of the Year and the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Photography. The original title of work is “Aid From The Padre”.
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