Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair, June 2014
He was 30 years old and had already taken some of the most remarkable images of the century: the haggard faces of the Spanish Civil War, the plump air wardens serving tea in the London Underground during the Blitz, Italian children lost in the rubble of Naples.
As a child, Capa wanted to be a writer; his best work has the intimacy of a storyteller's gaze and passion. He would never cover any war in which he did not love one side and hate the other, noted his biographer Richard Whelan, but his compassion was not partisan. Capa's special genius was to make himself invisible in the field while becoming conspicuously larger than life off of it. The helmet he carried through the 1943 Italian Campaign was inscribed ‘Property of Robert Capa, great war correspondent and lover.' No one ever disputed either claim. Leaving for D-day, Capa was determined to keep up the standard. "I was the most elegant invader of them all," he would later write in his 1947 novel-memoir, Slightly out of Focus.
Rushing from his apartment early on May 29, Capa could not leave a note. Instead, he signed a blank check, on which he placed a large bottle of Arpège. The check was for his landlord, the perfume for his wartime love, Elaine Justin, a fragile strawberry blonde he nicknamed Pinky. She was recovering from a burst appendix outside London; Capa was not concerned about the lack of proper good-bye. He chafed1 at the idea of permanence.
Besides his Burberry, he carried two Contax cameras. They provided some safety in the middle of a battle because he did not have to stop and look through the lens. He also carried his Rollei and Speed Graphic cameras, along with a telephoto lens, all packed in oilskin bags. At Weymouth, the sight of the harbor stunned him: thousands of battleships, troopships, freighters, and invasion barges mingled together - 5,000 in all - the largest armada ever assembled. Capa was handed an envelope of invasion francs, a package of condoms, and a French phrase book that suggested he speak to the local girls by asking them, "Bonjour, mademoiselle, voulez-vous faire une promenade avec moi ?"
He later made a joke about the book, but never about June 6, 1944. Capa's 11 frames of blur and grit from D-day would become the collective vision of how it felt to be part of the "longest day," the turning point of World War II.
"D" was army code for invasion day. In 24 hours, an elite assault unit of the United States Army, the amphibious 16th Infantry Regiment, First Infantry Division, would storm the beaches below the cliffs of Normandy. The outcome of D-day, the largest naval invasion in history, launched 70 years ago this June, would determine who won the war. The presence of Robert Capa with an infantry division was considered a talisman of luck.
1 He chafed = he was irritated
Survivor speaks for those who cannot
Laura Ruane, USA Today, June 5th, 2014
Ocean waters bloodied by soldiers shot dead moments after their boat ramp lowered. Mortally wounded comrade Clarence Robertson kneeling and praying the rosary on Omaha Beach until machine gun fire literally cut him in two.
These are some of former Army private and rifleman Harold Baumgarten's D-day memories that he didn't talk about until 44 years later, after his first return visit to Normandy in 1988.
On that trip with other survivors from the 29th Infantry Division, Baumgarten stood before the grave of 1st Lt. Harold Donaldson, "my lieutenant, who didn't make it out of the boat." With wife, Rita, at his side, Baumgarten surveyed the grave and the more than 9,000 crosses and Stars of David at the Normandy American Cemetery ‘with tears in my eyes.'
He had dedicated his civilian life to helping people, first as a teacher and assistant football coach at Palm Beach High School and later as a physician specializing in family practice and industrial surgery. After visiting Normandy, Baumgarten took on a new mission, this one for D-day's dead.
Baumgarten concluded that ‘somebody has to be their spokesman. I've got the memory and ability to speak. "[…] Of his own survival after being wounded five times in less than two days in Normandy," he says, "I thought it was more than luck."
So Baumgarten spoke, giving scores of newspaper, radio and TV interviews. He's talked about his dead comrades, "the real D-day heroes," to gatherings at Rotary Clubs, at houses of worship, in libraries, at police departments, and even about cruise ships.
Baumgarten retired from practising medicine in 1998. He and Rita will mark their 65th anniversary in June. They have three children and six grandkids.
In June, Baumgarten will return to Normandy with other members of the 29th Infantry Division. [...]
The visit should be very poignant, World War II Museum vice-president Stephen Watson says. With the youngest survivors, such as Baumgarten, in their late 80 s and the oldest in their 90s, "a lot of them know it will be the last time."
Watson says that when D-day survivors gather at the once-bloodied Omaha Beach, "they get recognition, and rightly so. But for them, it's about their buddies, making sure that those who didn't get back are remembered."
Fill in the following table :
|Text 1||Text 2|
|Who is this article mainly about?|
|What precise wartime events did he experience?|
|How did he take part in these events?|
What made the man in the article a great professional?
In what other creative activity did he engage?
What do we learn about his personal life and personality?
‘He chafed at the idea of permanence.' To what extent was this true in both his personal and his professional life?
What were the man's professional activities after the war?
‘Baumgarten took on a new mission'. What was it?
What were his motives for doing so?
What means did each of them use to share their experience of the war?
Using the following quotations, say how both men felt about their common experience:
- Text 1: ‘He later made a joke about the book, but never about June 6, 1944.'
- Text 2: ‘… memories that he didn't talk about until 44 years later.'