Alex Constantine - May 25, 2014
Born in Cheshire, George Rodger served in the British Merchant Navy. After a short spell in America, he worked as a photographer for the BBC's The Listener magazine, followed in 1938 by a brief stint working for the Black Star Agency.
[AC Note: The Black Star Photo Agency was started up in 1935 by three German Jews who fled the Nazis. The agency was co-founded by anti-fascist activist Robert Capa. Wikipedia: "As a young boy, Capa was drawn to the Munkakör (Employment Circle), a group of socialist and avant-garde artists, photographers, and intellectuals centered around Budapest. He participated in the demonstrations against the Miklós Horthy regime. In 1931, just before his first photo was published, Capa was arrested by the Hungarian secret police, beaten, and jailed for his radical political activity. A police official’s wife—who happened to know his family—won Capa’s release on the condition that he would leave Hungary immediately. The Boston Review has described Capa as 'a leftist, and a democrat—he was passionately pro-Loyalist and passionately anti-fascist...' During the Spanish Civil War, Capa travelled with and photographed the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), under which George Orwell served, which resulted in his best-known photograph."]
His pictures of the London blitz brought him to the attention of Life magazine, and he became a war correspondent. He won eighteen campaign medals covering Free French activities in West Africa, and went on to document the war front in Eritrea, Abyssinia and the Western Desert. He travelled to Iran, Burma, North Africa, Sicily and Salerno, Italy, where he met and befriended Robert Capa.
Having covered the liberation of France, Belgium and Holland, Rodger was the first photographer to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945. In May he photographed the German surrender at Lüneburg for Time and Life. Traumatized by the experience of looking for 'nice compositions' in front of the dead, Rodger embarked on a 28,000-mile journey all over Africa and the Middle East, focusing on animal life, rituals, and ways of life that exist in a close relationship with nature. ...