On June 6, 1944, the Allied Forces started the biggest amphibious invasion in history against Nazi Germany which went down in history as D-Day. Many stories were told, books were written and movies were made about the courage, importance, and tragedy of that day and since I was a kid I was both – fascinated and scared by those events at the coastline of Normandy.
In May 2019 I packed all my stuff, stopped an astrophotography trip at the Canary Islands and gathered all my money, energy and knowledge to get to Omaha Beach to make a photography documentary about the 75th Anniversary in June 6, 2019.
In the end, the documentation with more than 5000 written words and more than 130 photos was created.
More info: behance.net
Widerstandsnest 62 / Omaha Beach
I walked down the hill towards the beach where the deadly WN62 was still guarding the Channel.
75 years earlier – thousands of young GIs were wounded or killed from that bunkers. Nazi Heinrich Severloh at the machine gun MG-42 shot around 9 hours and claimed, that he had killed the most soldiers during WW2. He also said in an interview that he would have had a „bad conscience“ if he would have left.
I started to take my first panorama at 4 am – the same time when in 1944 thousands of boats appeared on the horizon, followed by thousands of airplanes. They started 2 hours long aerial and naval pre-landing bombardment to destroy the bunkers and to create massive craters in the sand where the soldiers could take cover. But they failed. Nothing was hit. When you see bunkers like WN62 and how well they are camouflaged and positioned – it’s so hard to imagine what it takes to land successfully on that beach and breakthrough that defense lines. You realize why there are almost 10.000 graves – just a few meters away.
Tribute medic jeep
While I was standing at the beach with my camera in my hand and the tears in my eyes – more and more people arrived – French, British, Americans – somewhere wearing original uniforms from WW2 – some had flowers. Many reenactors showed up. I saw a medic jeep driving along the beach. I took two photos which I really like. Then, I joined all those people walking along the beach towards Vierville.
I was very late to see the official H-Hour memorial event at Vierville-Sur-Mer but I recognized a group of reenactors at the beach who had their own little ceremony and I asked to join them and take a few pictures. The light and colors were very beautiful and I was lucky to get some nice photos of that group.
The golden light from the low rising sun was epic and everything had a pathetic touch. Even the light on the cliffs far away in the background was just mindblowing. From time to time some helicopters were flying above. But besides the roar of the helicopters and the noise of the waves, everything was still quiet and reverent. What a moment. What a day to be a photographer!
See you in Paris
I followed the parade back to St. Laurent. Meanwhile, the vehicles had turned around and came back which was my chance of taking some less chaotic photos with a nice Omaha Beach background. That was really cool and I still was happy about everyone who waved their arms back.
Paddling through time
The mood at the beach had completely changed into a mix of tourist spectacle and usual beach-day atmosphere and so I was interested in leaving.
Krauts doing Kraut things.
First American cemetery
That’s the whole story for many people of the landing on the beaches of Normandy – from the shaken, disorientated landing boats across the long and deadly beaches, up that fortified shores where now is a huge and beautiful cemetery.
To end my documentary – I will quote a sentence which is written inside the little chapel in the center of the cemetery: „Think not only upon their passing – Remember the glory of their spirit“.
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