Monday, August 3, 2015
Leo Rosenthal, Photographer 1
Over the years, I've picked up a couple of collections of news photos, and over the next few days, I'll be posting one of those lots.
These are all photos by Leo Rosenthal, a photographer who led, to put it mildly, an interesting life. I found an article about his life in a newspaper from 1968, that listed his age as 83, so that puts 1885 as the year of his birth. His father was a jeweler in Riga, Latvia, at the time part of the Russian Empire. Leo went on to become a criminal lawyer, practicing in Moscow through two different revolutions. He was part of the Kerensky government as head of The Bureau of Released Prisoners. Under the Bolsheviks, he was The Executive Secretary of The Political Red Cross and was also a defense attorney for The Revolutionary Tribunals and latter The People's Court. In 1919, attorneys became employees of the state, and a year latter, Leo Rosenthal moved to Berlin.
In 1922 he began his journalistic career as a reporter and photographer for Vorwarts the official newspaper of The German Social Democratic Party. In 1934, the Nazi government banned Jews from working as journalists, so Rosenthal moved onto Paris, working as a correspondent for a number of Scandinavian based labor newspapers. In 1940, the day before the Germans marched into Paris, he fled south to Vichy and continued his work as a journalist. In 1942, his mother, brother, and three sisters were killed, in Riga, by the Nazis. He fled to the United States, living in New York City. To support himself, he stuffed dolls, worked as an artist's model, and was the assistant librarian at Rikers Island Prison. Eventually, he returned to photojournalism as a free-lance. In 1945, he covered the United Nations Organization Conference in San Francisco, and after the U.N. set up in New York City, he spent the rest of his career there.
Leo Rosenthal took more than 300,000 pictures during his years at the U.N. In 1968, The United Nations Association of the United States sponsored an exhibition of his work, displaying more than 600 of his photos. A book of his photos from Germany, "Leo Rosenthal, Ein Chronist in der Weimarer Republik, Fotografien 1926-1933" is available from Amazon.
All of these photos have the same stamp on the back. "PHOTO BY LEO ROSENTHAL, 315 WEST 102nd STREET, NEW YORK 25, N.Y.-TEL. UN.4-0893, PRIVATE PRINT--NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNLESS BY SPECIAL PERMISSION." Labeled, "United Nations Commission on Human Rights, 10th session, February, March 1954."