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Yevgeny Khaldei

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Yevgeny Khaldei
Ukrainian Contemporary (post 1945) Photographer
(Donetsk, Ukraine, March 23, 1917 - October 6, 1997, Moscow, Russia)

Khaldei, born in 1917 to a Jewish family in the Ukraine, made his first childhood camera from the lenses of his grandmother's spectacles. At the age of nineteen he became a press photographer for the official Soviet press agency TASS. His work was greatly admired by the Soviet elite, resulting in portrait commissions from Stalin to Gorbachev and Yeltsin. In 1948 he lost his job, either because of the post-war frenzy of antisemitism which began in that year and continued until Stalin's death, or because he was an admirer of Tito, who had broken with Stalin:  either would have sufficed.  He slipped into obscurity.  For years, his photographs were reproduced in Russia and in the west without his name on them.  In 1995, fifty years after the war's end, he began to be exhibited again in Europe and the United States.  His first US exhibition was at Colgate University, though he went on to have exhibitions in New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere.  Mr. Khaldei worked together with Colgate professors Alice and Alexander Nakhimovsky on a retrospective of his work, Witness to History:  The Photographs of Yevgeny Khaldei (Aperture, 1997).  He died just before the publication of that book and before the completion of a film about his life and work. As a photographer, Yevgeny Khaldei bore witness to some of the most important events of the twentieth century. He covered the conflict of World War II from its opening hours in the far north through to the taking of Berlin and eventually the Nuremberg Trials.  Upon the Soviet Union's entry into the war, he departed with the Red Army to take photographs at the front. He travelled to Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria and Germany, where he documented the liberation of Berlin. He took his final war photographs during the Potsdam Conference, at which the 'Big Three' (Stalin, Churchill and Truman) drew up Germany's post-war boundaries. In 1945 and 1946 he photographed the War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg: "I photographed the atrocities wrought by the Fascists in the Soviet Union. Now I am photographing the vengeance." (Sources: Museum of the Jewish People Online (; Colgate University:

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