Crowds #7: Fleeing July 4, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Contemporary, Modern , trackback
Beach greatly enjoyed, last year, writing a series of posts on crowds: i.e ransacking the web for likely images with the philosophy that groups, particularly ecstatic, tense or ‘altered’ groups make for interesting studies. There was crowds as art, those silly men with straw hats from August 1914, listening crowds, religion and crowds, prisoner crowds and bully crowds.
Here is the latest in the series and it is almost as unpleasant as the last (the bullies). Below are a series of images of men and women fleeing proximate or immediate danger. As you read these remember that many of the people you see may not have survived. That is particularly true of the shot above of Croatian troops fleeing into Austria. They were turned back by the British and handed over to the TLC of communist partisans: ‘bang, bang, you’re dead’, as one Serbian officer put it.
Next come a couple of modern African shots. When you flee you take whatever you can carry and these pictures often convey the relative wealth of a country. Note the Congolese desperate not to lose their mattresses. The Libyans, meanwhile, have plush cases. Both have death behind them: Ghaddafi’s thugs, now happily replaced by someone else’s. The Congolese, on the other hand, are being chased by one of those countless rebel bands whose acronyms are bland western and democratic and whose soldiers cut fetuses from mothers, after placing wagers on the sex of the same.
Two Asian photos. One the crowds in Shanghai as hostilities begin with the Japanese and the second a happier photograph, a Vietnamese family successfully escaping in 1966: a photo that went around the world.
Here a rare ‘fleeing’ nineteenth-century photograph offering an intimate moment. A group of American missionaries are running from a Sioux warband in 1862. The second day of the trek. Beach can’t see desperation but there is an awful lot of anxiety in those faces: and rightly so. It is very rare for middle class Europeans or Americans not to pose in a photo. BTW, they made it.
The Kosovar family and the Palestinian family (1948) are not facing certain or even probable death, though they might have done so had they not run for the border. The little boy on the right in the Palestinian shot will now be an old man: as with many Palestinians from the ‘disaster’, in a suitcase or under the mattress he will keep the property deeds to the land his family lost in that year.
WW2 produced a lot of fleeing. Here are some of the last fleers, the esuli: the Italians of Istria who were forced to leave their ancestral homes in 1946 and 1947 as the Yugoslav state moves in to ‘civilize’ the locality. Pity with all your hearts the Slovenians who had suffered for twenty years under Mussolini and now had Tito to look forward to: sometimes fleeing is definitely preferable to staying. Here below is the other side of the coin, arrival: Jewish refugees disembark in Australia in 1945, what they must have been through in the previous decade… The girl on the far right, and the father on the left have a quizzical expression: ‘where the hell are we now’. Suburban barbecues, roses eaten by wallabies and Sundays in the swimming pool. Friends, it could be worse.
Next, a couple of shots from rebellions and protests. The German heroes of 1953 running in central Berlin from Soviet soldiers (lest we forget) and below them South Africans escaping the Sharpeville massacre.
Then just in case you’ve been left feeling down. Here are two middle class Americans fleeing the Thing from Beneath the Sea.
Beach would love to find some more fleeing pictures: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com