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Human Rights Competition
Human Rights Competition
Final 2014
February 1st, 2015, ten lawyers will plead the case of a victim of human rights.
Booking and information
Tel. : +33 (0)2 31 06 06 45
Fax :
+33 (0)2 31 06 01 66
Email : resa@memorial-caen.fr

Shots of War


Grand photographer Tony Vaccaro, often compared to war reporter Robert Capa, will exhibit 100 photographs of the Liberation of Western Europe, taken during the offensive of the 83rd division of the American infantry, between Normandy and Berlin (1944-1945).

For this exhibition, Tony Vaccaro, now 91 years old, has accepted make the transatlantic crossing again and to share his extraordinary story at the Mémorial de Caen.

An exhibition produced by the Bilderwelt Gallery.
Background photograph: Tony Vaccaro / Bilderwelt Gallery - Hemmerden February 28th, 1945


When he lands on Omaha beach on 21 June 1944, Tony Vaccaro, a simple 21 year-old foot soldier, is holding an M-1 rifle in one hand, a 35mm Argus C3 camera in the other. He had succeeded in convincing his superiors to let him photograph the offensive of the 83rd division of the American infantry.

His first perspective is of a Norman coast ripped to shreds and of thousands of corpses lining the road leading to Vierville (Calvados). Thereafter come combat and fear- a wounded Tony Vaccaro is cared for in Isigny-sur-Mer (Calvados).

He rejoins his unit and they participate in the liberation of Brittany. On 15 August 1944, he finds himself in Saint Briac in the midst of the jubilatory celebration, depicted in his photo, “The Kiss”. “And we never danced again”, he confides, because the war leads them from Normandy eastward, then to Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany. Tony Vaccaro captures a total of 8000 photos during the 300 days across Europe. The photos are developed at night, with helmets
serving as makeshift darkrooms that contain the developer and fixing chemicals.

He follows the quotidian of his unit. He chronicles unrelenting combat such as the Hûrtgan forest battle, as well as utter destitution and atrocities, like the photo of a raped German woman with a knife stabbed in her vagina, a shot taken on 8 May 1945, Armistice Day.

Discharged in 1945, Tony Vaccaro will remain in Germany for four years, working for the U.S. Army newspaper Stars and Stripes. However, overwhelmed by years of war and reconstruction, he chooses to return to the United States and try his luck as a fashion and news photographer in magazines such as Flair, Look, Life and Venture. His photo portraits of artists and stars have earned him an international reputation.

The visit of "Shots of War" and "The 100 objects of the Battle of Normandy" exhibitions is included in the entrance ticket.
Visit of the exhibitions only: 5€


1922: Tony Vaccaro is born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, USA.
1925: An orphan, he heads for Italy to live with his uncle, making the transatlantic crossing for the first time.
1942: Back in the United States, still speaking broken English, his physics professor introduces him to photography.
1944: He lands on Omaha Beach on June 21, becoming “the soldier with the camera.”
1944-1945: He follows the advancement of the 83rd US infantry division, a long journey that takes him from Brittany to Berlin, through the Ardennes. He takes nearly 7000 photographs.
1945: Demobilised, he is hired as a photo reporter for the Army review, Stars and Stripes. He will remain in a battered Europe for the next four years as an official war correspondent in Germany, France, and Italy.
1949: Torn by the pain of war, he resigns.
From the 1950s: Tony Vaccaro starts a new life as a fashion and cinema photographer for the magazines Flair, Look, Life and Venture. He makes multiple trips between New York and Europe, meeting personalities such as the sculptor Alexandre Calder during the transatlantic crossings. He makes a name for himself thanks to his portraits of Marlon Brando, Charles Chaplin, Sophia Loren, Maria Callas, Marlene Dietrich, Marcel Duchamp, Anita Ekberg, or Pablo Picasso…
On the film set of
« Tony's crossing » (2013)

On the occasion of the Tony Vaccaro exhibition « Shots of War », produce by the Bilderwelt Gallery, television network France 3 filmed a documentary tracing the life of the great photojournalist. Filming began in October 2013 in New York. The first sequence features the meeting between Tony Vaccaro and Stéphane Grimaldi, Director of the Mémorial de Caen.

Tony Vaccaro,
soldier photographer

In New York, Tony Vaccaro tells us how he became “the soldier with the camera” and shares his most striking memory of the war. Interview.
Film clip
« Tony, le retour du GI »
(Tony, The Return of the GI, 1994)

On the occasion of the Tony Vaccaro exhibition « Shots of War », produce by the Bilderwelt Gallery, at the Mémorial de Caen, a 52-minute documentary will tell the story of Vaccaro’s extraordinary life. The film by Jean-François Pahun will be screened as a premiere at the Mémorial de Caen. Jean-François Pahun had previously filmed Tony Vaccaro for the documentary, “The Return of the GI.” Here is a clip.