Photographic exhibition arnhem boys
In September 2019, on the 75th anniversary of the battle, the Airborne Museum exhibits a unique series of portraits of veterans of the Battle of Arnhem.
This is a unique collection of portraits of the men who fought in this famous WW2 Battle, with many now in their late nineties. The exhibition is in park Hartenstein, outside the Airborne Museum during the entire month of September. This extensive exhibit shows 28 images.
Photographer Richard Jopson
Brooklyn based British photographer Jopson was inspired to carry out this self-financed personal project befor the last of these veterans passed away along with their stories. He spent four years traveling throughout the UK, the US and Canada, photographing and interviewing the allied veterans of the Battle of Arnhem. Unfortunately to date 11 have already died since they were photographed.
The roots of this project began back in England more than 40 years ago. Jopson: “Like so many children of my generation I was fascinated by World War two and devoured all things associated with it. It was the 1977 epic, ‘A Bridge Too Far’ about Arnhem that sparked my imagination and led to this lifelong fascination with the battle.
These men have felt a strong need to share their stories before they die. They had taken part in one of the Second World War’s bloodiest battles and invited me – a virtual stranger – into their homes and told me their fascinating and moving stories. Theirs is a tale not of victory but of defeat; it’s one that starts out with optimism and awe but turns very quickly into a desperately sad and frustrating story of disaster. Even after surviving the battle, many who I spoke to, were then packed into cattle trucks and sent to POW camps. Here they had to endure months of cold, hunger and deprivation until the end of the war in May 1945.
The work has also educated me in many ways. Polish veterans in particular opened my eyes to a side of the war I was ignorant about; the mass deportations by Stalin of the Poles to Gulags in the Soviet Union. After the hunger and brutality of these camps they then travelled thousands of miles south to reach the Allies in Persia; arriving in rags as just skin and bone. Amazingly they were then eager to recover their strenght and join the fight to liberate Europe and their homeland. One veteran summed up his experience very well by stating, ‘He had lived a thousand years and wasn’t yet 25′.”
The exhibition in park Hartenstein, outside the Airborne Museum can be visited until the end of this year.
This is the first outdoor exhibition of the Airborne Museum.