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Robert Capa - Shorn woman: she has a child with a German soldier

by Sylvi Weidlich

Almost exuberantly, half the city seems to be on its feet, if one's gaze did not fall on a young mother with a shaved skull. Her shaved head pulls the ground out from under the viewer's feet: her hair was shaved off because she got involved with a German. The mob that has formed to the left and right of the small family tries to ridicule them: a man in uniform with a helmet, on a par with the young woman, even addresses her directly. Turning their heads as they walk towards the shorn, the horde moves at a fast pace towards the photographer. The head of a young man sticks out of the crowd, his mouth open in curiosity. 

Even though photography is soundless, the gloating and mockery of the young woman is almost palpable. The shame of the bare head and the insults of the mob, which perhaps even uses blame or revenge, are not able to dissuade the mother from her path. On the contrary: full of dignity, not losing sight of her little one, she resolutely makes her way through the slavering crowd.

Photography does not just show mere events; it is stubbornly capable of shaping opinions and intensifying feelings. This black-and-white photograph by Robert Capa shows a street scene in Chatres, France, in 1944. As a political refugee of Jewish descent, Endre Ernö Friedmann himself was at risk of persecution, even more so after Hitler seized power. So, partly for lack of commissions, he began his career as a photographer with his partner Gerta Taro under the pseudonym "Robert Capa." In 1943, Capa documented the Allied advance in Europe for the American magazine "Life" by taking over photo coverage. His intrepid reportage made Capa one of the most important war photographers of his time. 

Robert Capa - Shorn woman: she has a child with a German soldier

Print on baryta paper, 1944, 24.5 x 35 cm, photo coverage in Life magazine.


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