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Following is The New York Times obituary of the artist, 05/12/2012:
Horst Faas, Photographer Who Showed Horrors of War, Dies at 79
By PAUL VITELLO
Horst Faas, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning war photographer who later was editor of the Associated Press staff in Saigon that produced the most haunting photographs of the Vietnam War, died Thursday in Munich. He was 79.
His death was confirmed by The A.P.
Mr. Faas covered wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Algeria in the late 1950s before being sent to Vietnam in 1962. Though seriously wounded in a jungle rocket attack in 1967, he remained in what he called “this little bloodstained country” until 1973, shortly before the American withdrawal.
Mr. Faas earned Pulitzers in 1965 for combat photographs from Vietnam and in 1972 for his coverage of the conflict in Bangladesh.
As celebrated as his own pictures were, the photographs that came to be most closely associated with Mr. Faas were two that he selected, as an editor, for transmission around the world. Because of their graphic nature and the unwritten rules of conventional journalism, neither might have ever been more than a dot on a contact sheet in a drawer. Instead they became emblematic images of the tragedy of the American involvement in Vietnam.
The first, taken by the celebrated photographer Eddie Adams during a surprise insurgent attack on Saigon in 1968, showed a Vietnamese official, his pistol at arm’s length, executing a captured Vietcong soldier at point-blank range. The second, taken in 1972 by the Vietnamese photographer Huynh Cong Ut, known professionally as Nick, showed the aftermath of one of the thousands of bombings in the countryside by American planes: a group of terror-stricken children fleeing the scene, a young girl in the middle of the group screaming and naked, her clothing incinerated by burning napalm.
“The girl was obviously nude, and one of the rules was we don’t — at The A.P. — we don’t present nude pictures, especially of girls in puberty age,” Mr. Faas said in an oral history recorded in 1997 for The A.P.’s corporate archive. Nevertheless, he set his mind on “getting the thing published and out.” The photograph won a Pulitzer.
In that interview and others, Mr. Faas avoided grand statements about the power of photography to change public opinion. He was at times adamantly fatalistic on the issue.
“I don’t think we influenced the war at any time,” he said in 1997. “I don’t think we helped to win it or helped to lose it. We didn’t work on the outcome of the war.” Making pictures about the suffering and horror of war, he said, was simply better than not making them.
Horst Faas was born in Berlin on April 28, 1933, and like young men of his generation, he told interviewers, was forced to join the Hitler Youth organization in his neighborhood. He said his overarching childhood memories were of food shortages, evacuations and “the fascinating spectacle of antiaircraft action in the sky” as Allied planes dropped bombs.
His interest in photography was accidental, he said. There were few opportunities for
education in postwar West Germany. He landed a job in the library of a local photo agency. The agency eventually “needed cheap help to take pictures,” so he started taking them, he told the A.P. archive. He joined The A.P. in 1956.
Mr. Faas was known at The A.P. for his role as a teacher and mentor. During the Vietnam War, he trained a cadre of young Vietnamese men to take pictures, supplying them with cameras, film and daily marching orders. Some became professionally successful, including Nick Ut, who now works in Los Angeles.
Mr. Faas’s survivors include his wife, Ursula, and his daughter, Clare Faas.
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