One of the most iconic pictures of women during WWII is the picture of Lee Miller sitting in Adolf Hitler’s bathtub, in his Munich apartment in 1945.
“I was living in Hitler’s private apartment in Munich when his death was announced.” she said afterwards.
Lee Miller however wasn’t just a lady in a bathtub.
Elizabeth “Lee” Miller, Lady Penrose was an American photographer and photojournalist. She was a fashion model in New York City in the 1920s before going to Paris, where she became a fashion and fine art photographer. She was unapologetically sexual. A strong woman in a male dominated world.
During World War 2,she was a war correspondent for Vogue, covering events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau, despite having no military training.
It is this part I want to focus on.
The magazine Vogue is a well known Fashion magazine. You would not associate it with hard hitting journalism , yet in June 1945 it published pictures taken by Lee Miller of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
“I don’t usually take pictures of horrors. But don’t think that every town and every area isn’t rich with them. I hope Vogue will feel that it can publish there pictures.” Lee Miller wrote to her editor in the cover letter that was sent with her manuscripts and photographs of the liberation of Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.
and Vogue did publish it. ‘BELIEVE IT’ was the title of the article published in American Vogue. British Vogue also published images.
In her manuscripts she writes ‘The overcrowded blocks of prisoners were re-crowded by incoming evacuated prisoners from other camps. The triple decker bunks without blankets, or even straw, held two and three men per bunk who lay in bed too weak to circulate the camp in victory and liberation marches or songs, although they mostly grinned and cheered, peering over the edge. In the few minutes it took me to take my pictures two men were found dead, and were unceremoniously dragged out and thrown on the heap outside the block. Nobody seemed to mind except me. The doctor said it was too late for more than half the others in the building anyway.’