Robert Capa: Capturing 20th Century Warfare

RobertCapabyGerdaTaro“Capa: he was a good friend and a great and very brave photographer.” (Ernest Hemingway, 27/5/54.)

October 22nd is the centenary of the birth of the war photographer and photojournalist Robert Capa, who covered the major wars of the mid twentieth century

You can see his work in the book “Robert Capa, 1913 – 1954,” which is shelved at TR140.C28A32. .

Capa was responsible for some of the most iconic images of modern war, such as “The Falling Soldier” in Spain, 1938, or “The Magnificent Eleven,” a set of grainy and dramatic pictures of the D-Day invasions.

He took four rolls of film at D-Day, but only a handful of photographs survived. The story behind this is recounted in Simon Kuper’s article, “My friend, Robert Capa,” which is available on Summon, a database that is accessed through the “Search All” option on the Library homepage. (

Simon Kuper describes Capa’s film arriving at the American magazine Life, but some were also published in the London based Picture Post.

The Library has a run of Picture Post from 1942 – 44,  shelved with other Social Interest journals in the Research Commons.  The issue for June 24th, 1944, includes some of Capa’s D-Day photographs. The pictures are not credited to him, but they are there among other images of the invasion and life in wartime Britain.

After the war Capa wrote, “I was very happy to become an unemployed war photographer, and I hope to stay unemployed as a war photographer till the end of my life.” Sadly, this did not happen, and he was killed by a landmine in Vietnam in 1954.


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