Photographer A. Arkhipov
Looking at the photos from our archive, you can't help but feel implication in the events of those years. You feel yourself like an intermediary between that time and ours. You feel the importance of what you touch. You are amazed and realize that today, more than 75 years since the Great Victory; these photos should be seen by people. They should know and remember that the war was not an action movie with actors and a happy ending, but a terrible reality that had impact on the whole world, wrecked the lives of millions, and affected almost every family, every person.
For a long time, the photos that you see here were as if in obscurity. Rather, they were not simply published and people forgot about them. Although Arkhipov’s works were recognized not only at home, but also took part and won prizes in international photo exhibitions during his lifetime.
From time to time, but not too often some editors of domestic media asked my father to send them a couple of photos for publication on the pages of albums, magazines or newspapers for the next anniversary date. And then, as if by accident, they would forget to specify who the author of those photos was. They just wrote “author unknown” or even worse, attributed the authorship to someone else.
I remember from my childhood a large brown box from under the popular Soviet children’s game “Table basketball”. There were negatives, film fragments, control small photos, newspaper clippings, diaries, award lists, and other personal documents. Its content incredibly attracted me. I really liked the little envelopes made of tracing paper, where negatives were stored, and tiny photos – “checks”. When my father was sorting and rearranging the content of that “mysterious” box, I always tried to be close, I wanted to take part in this process.
My grandfather’s photos had made an incredible impression on me, just a little child then. The memories of my grandmothers who survived the war, patriotic movies, books about the war that I loved to read, were superimposed on these terrific images. I really wanted my grandfather to be alive. I wanted to get to know him, ask him about everything, and listen to interesting and exciting stories about the wartime, about exploits and heroes, about how people selflessly fought for their Homeland! It would be interesting to learn all this from the lips of an eyewitness and participant in the events captured in these photos... but, alas! My grandfather had been gone for a very long time. His life ended in the distant 1950. He was only 37 years old...
We don’t know much about my grandpa. He was born in 1913 in Kharkiv, and then moved with his family to Kiev. He worked for the newspaper ‘Soviet Ukraine’ as a photojournalist since 1939. In the early 1940s, he was already an employee of the “Illustrated newspaper” in Moscow.
The first grandfather’s front-line photos were published in the magazine “Front-line illustrations” in May 1942. He was wounded at Stalingrad in the same year then he was on the Leningrad front, later participated in the liberation of Eastern Ukraine, Kiev, Belarus, and Poland. He participated in the famous Battle of Kursk, took part in the advance into Germany. Together with the Soviet troops, he entered the defeated Berlin. There is a unique footage taken during the signing of the Act of Unconditional Surrender of Germany and at the Nuremberg trials. We see the events of those years “through his eyes”, walk together along the roads of war and feel the joy of Victory through his photos.
My grandmother, Inna Alexandrovna, said that grandpa was a funny and witty person, a great speaker, a kind and caring family man.
He was an unsurpassed player in bouts-rimes, sportsman who participated in car and motorcycle races many times before the war, also a Jack of all trades – who built a record player from scratch. Anatoly possessed a phenomenal memory. My grandma recalled that many times she asked him to sort out the archive, organize the pictures, and sign the negatives. He constantly replied: “Don't worry. I remember perfectly well where I took that photos and who was on them.”
We found in the archive his manuscripts of stories and poems, a curious little notebook – a dictionary of Latvian Language written by my grandpa. There were captions and notes to some photos, someone’s memories and much more. From this we can see that Anatoly Arkhipov loved life, aspired to new creative heights, tried to live every minute with the use.
I hope everyone will find something exciting and special for oneself in these photos. Someone will be interested in them from the point of historical content. For someone they will evoke memories and tears. Perhaps someone will recognize their close ones in the photos, and someone will get aesthetic pleasure from the masterfully made images…
I am very glad that now, in the year of the 75th anniversary of the Victory, the name of the photojournalist Anatoly Arkhipov, unfairly forgotten, would be restored, and his photos would become another indisputable documentary evidence of the events of the war and its results, would take their proper place on the pages of the historical chronicles of those days. Now days more than ever, we have to preserve our historical memory, and these photos are the good mean to help us do this!
As Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation said:
“Today, they are trying to wipe out the feat of the people who saved Europe and the whole world from slavery, from the extermination, from the horrors of the Holocaust. They want to distort the events of the war, to forget the true heroes, to forge, rewrite, and distort the history itself. We will never allow this to happen”
Anastasia Fedorova (Granddaughter of Anatoly Arkhipov)