Horst Faas 1933-2012

****This post does contain images that some people may find distressing***

I first came across Horst Faas about 10 years ago when reading a history of war photography. Fass has long been considered one of the greatest War photographers of all time, up there with Capa and James Nachtwey. He has won the Pulitzer prize twice and his pictures of the Vietnam War have become iconic images of the war.

Fass was born in Berlin in 1933. In 1951 he joined the Keystone agency and by 21 was covering conflicts in IndoChina. He built a reputation as a unflinching and tenacious reporter and in 1956 joined one of the most famous picture agencies, AP (associated press). Sent to cover the war in Vietnam and Laos he became AP’s chief photographer in SE Asia. He won the Pulitzer prize in 1965 for his work in Vietnam and in 1967 was badly injured by a RPG and he used a wheelchair for the rest of his life, despite this he won his second Pulitzer in in 1972 for his coverage of the Bangladesh conflict.

Horst Faas 1965

Faas is also famed for his picture editing and is responsible for two of the most famous pictures of the Vietnam war being published. In 1968 he was sent a picture taken by Eddie Adams of the infamous execution of  a Vietcong prisoner by Saigon police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan. He was also instrumental in publishing Nick Ut’s famous picture ‘Napalm Girl’, Despite the arguments of senior figures at AP, not least that the girl was nude!

“…an editor at the AP rejected the photo of Kim Phuc running down the road without clothing because it showed frontal nudity. Pictures of nudes of all ages and sexes, and especially frontal views were an absolute no-no at the Associated Press in 1972…Horst argued by telex with the New York head-office that an exception must be made, with the compromise that no close-up of the girl Kim Phuc alone would be transmitted. The New York photo editor, Hal Buell, agreed that the news value of the photograph overrode any reservations about nudity.”

Faas was determined to ensure the picture was published  and this picture maybe more than any other sparked off the protests in America against the war in Vietnam.

Horst continued his work in photo journalism, always pushing to have controversial pictures published, believing that the public had the right to see them, no matter how un-appetising. He finally retired in 2004 and sadly passed away on the 10 May 2012.

A truly remarkable man…RIP

Wounded US soldiers are treated on a battle field in Vietnam on April 2, 1967

July 15, 1966: US Marines scatter as a CH-46 helicopter burns, background, after it was shot down near the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam

n this January 9, 1964 photo – one of several that earned Horst Faas his first Pulitzer Prize – a South Vietnamese soldier uses the end of a dagger to beat a farmer for allegedly supplying government troops with inaccurate information about the movement of Viet Cong guerrillas in a village west of Saigon

In this March 19, 1964 photo, one of several shot by Horst Faas which earned him the first of two Pulitzer Prizes, a father holds the body of his child as South Vietnamese Army Rangers look down from their armoured vehicle. The child was killed as government forces pursued guerrillas into a village near the Cambodian border.

March 1965: Hovering US Army helicopters pour machine gun fire into the tree line to cover the advance of South Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp 18 miles north of Tay Ninh, near the Cambodian borde

January 1965: The sun breaks through dense jungle foliage around the embattled town of Binh Gia as South Vietnamese troops, joined by US advisers, rest after a cold, damp and tense night of waiting in an ambush position for a Viet Cong attack that didn’t come

March 30, 1965: Injured Vietnamese people receive aid as they lie on the street after a bomb explosion outside the US Embassy in Saigon

South Vietnamese National Police Chief Brig Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes a Viet Cong.( Photo/Eddie Adams)

Phan Thị Kim Phúc, who was photographed as a naked 9-year-old girl running toward the camera to flee a South Vietnamese napalm attack on the Trảng Bàng village during the Vietnam War.

18 December 1971: A guerilla leader in Dacca, Bangladesh, beats a victim during the torture and execution of four men suspected of collaborating with Pakistani militiamen accused of murder, rape and looting during months of civil wa

In this December 18, 1971 photo shot by AP photographers Horst Faas and Michel Laurent, part of a Pulitzer prize winning series, newly independent Bangladesh guerrillas in Dacca use bayonets to torture and kill four men suspected of collaborating with Pakistani militiamen who had been accused of murder, rape and looting during months of civil war

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About readinggivesmewings

Father of two girls with two passions, Reading and history. If I can combine the two then I am a happy person!
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2 Responses to Horst Faas 1933-2012

  1. NH Mallett says:

    Tough pictures to look at!

  2. Simon Bendle says:

    Interesting post – thanks.

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