jump to navigation
  • Death’s Fluttering Wings: Photos November 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary , trackback

    presidential limousine moments before

    A bit of a melancholy day and so Strange History offers a post on death: a series of pictures of people about to die. The only condition is that the photographs must not be excessively upsetting or morbid. This means that most of the people here, in fact, do not know that they are about to disappear down the plughole of life, to come up kicking and breathing into who knows what existential sewer. We begin with the shot above of Kennedy and Jackie moments before the sniper rifle popped. This blogger is not a huge Kennedy fan, but to see two relatively young individuals smiling and breathing and yet to know how things turn out…

    yukio seki

    Next up is a famous but difficult to find photograph. 17 October 1944 with the US navy moving inexorably towards the homeland, a group of Japanese pilots are, for the first time in Imperial history, instructed to carry out kamikaze missions on US ships (in Leyte Gulf); and among these young men is perhaps Japan’s finest pilot, Yukio Seki. Here is the toast before the pilots move towards their planes. Usually we see, in pictures, kamikazes smiling or (in one memorable instant) cuddling a puppy. This though is not the day before but the hour of the attack and the body language doesn’t suggest cherry blossom time. Rather one last visit to the bathroom… Who can blame them?

    english corporal

    Here is a recent addition to the collection. The Afghan on the left is about to turn and shoot the British corporal and his colleague behind. You can see death in his eyes, though the two British servicemen are – given the outcome – let’s hope absolutely unknowing about what is to befall.

    omagh bombing

    This picture has special associations for this writer because it was put up on this blog to ‘celebrate’ the birth of Tiny Miss Beachcombing almost three years ago: in the midst of life death. A Republican bomb is in the back of that red car. Many of the people in this picture are about to be blown to smithereens. The Real-IRA would apologise for a ‘miscalculation’. Thirty-one people were murdered in a moment.

    before death iran

    This is the only immediately upsetting picture here, but it has humanity in it, so we let it through the filters. The two hooded men are Iranian hangmen, the two unhooded men their victims: yet there is a strange moment of understanding (an accident of photography?), the weeper and the shoulder.

    polish jewish resistance

    Finally, we have this extraordinary picture from the aftermath of the revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto. These three Polish patriots have just been hustled out of a house by the Germans and face a predictable enough fate. Their faces are marvelous combination of indifference and screw-you defiance. And, in fact, we’ll end this on a positive note as the woman on the right, Malka Zdrojewicz Horenstein, after many adventures and a Nazi extermination camp, somehow survived the war and emigrated to Israel where she had four children.

    ‘And what do we say to the God of death?’ ‘Not today.’

    Other photographs of impending death, no blood and preferably no tears: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com