Transcript:

Speaker So how and when did you first meet captain?

Speaker Oh, I got my job at Magnavox through the ad of The New York Times, and at that time Magnum was just two and a half years old and had it was a very small group of people, about six of them with an office in Paris and an office in New York and I think some kind of an office in London and the office in New York. There were only three people. I was the third one. And copper came in at Christmas time and as he would do every year, and it didn't really get to do him at that time, except that he gave me a huge order for film, which he was going to take back to Paris, because at that time there wasn't much film to be had in Paris. It was 1950 or 1951, shortly after the war. And I remember she walked out of the door.

Speaker He said, you do what you do. I said to me, You do know that was all right. You know, you'll be OK.

Speaker Yeah.

Speaker And then after a while, when he was Maria Eisner, who had hired me and who had known Koppa Shimon Alvie before the war, she left. And so Koppa was in Paris running the Paris office. And another girl, Pat Hegan and I were running the New York office. So from that point on, there were daily letters, memos, because at that time, of course, there wasn't any email and telephone. It was much too expensive. But we got to know each other pretty well over all the details of the everyday life of running an agency. And how often would you see help? Well, actually, not very often, because he would just show up around Christmas time, but one time I was given a free trip on All in his name because he'd been to Israel a lot, taking a lot of pictures and published a lot of pictures of Israel. And my parents were in Israel and I hadn't seen them for seven years, in fact, since I had gotten married. So that was in 1953. And John Morris had come about six months earlier. And so on my way to Israel, Cupper asked me to step over in London and then we went together to Paris and then I went to Israel and then I came back and spend some more time with him in Paris, so.

Speaker We had a pretty close, honest. Former.

Speaker Kind of relationship and what was your first impression when you met him? He walked into the Magnum office. That was the first time you met him?

Speaker That's right. That was the first time I met him.

Speaker Well, at that time, I was pretty impressed, but on future occasions, you know, he would be in the office and you'd walk up and down the office and you would come around and massage people, the guards next, you know, to make them relax and so on. I'm. I liked him very much, but I can't say I was terribly impressed with all his dongjun ways. I remember one time he walked past and he slapped me on my bottom and I slapped him right back.

Speaker He's kind of taken aback. Did you love him on his bottom? Exactly. I slapped him on his part and he didn't seem to mind one bit. He just, you know, didn't do that again to me.

Speaker I said we didn't. I mean, if he really liked it, you would have done it again.

Speaker I don't know about that. I think he understood that was not the right thing to do with me. All right.

Speaker And you also told me a story. I don't know what you want to tell it now, but I liked it. Well, let's talk about Julia for a minute.

Speaker Oh, Julia. Well, but so after a couple of years, Magnum moved from this dreadful office, midtown. It was dark in the back, no light. We moved to an elegant. Whitestone, Brownstown, right next door to Wildenstein 2064 Street, and it seems to be the couple was there more often. I remember him more clearly and truly used to come in all the time because she was living on the Upper West Side. And although she was very fond of copper and he was very fond of her, they didn't really see each other very much. You knew how to keep her happy with a minimum of time.

Speaker For example, when she went to Paris, he would send the roses to her hotel room and he would introduce her to all his friends and take her around.

Speaker But then he would vanish again. And he wasn't very good at writing except when he had something to say, like you business stuff for the office, which was not so much about himself, but for all the other photographers after whom you really looked like a father. So, Drew, there was very short. She was very small. She must have been 60 or something at that time. And of course, she was a superb dressmaker or something more elegant, nimble like and. And she came in to get news of Bob and also Afshan find out what was going on. I remember the time I went to go to Israel. She appeared with this black half slip with which she presented me and said, I made this for you, for your trip and be sure to show to Bob I didn't.

Speaker So she had her wily ways of showing her approval and her disapproval.

Speaker And you mean by that president? What did she mean?

Speaker Well, she thought that I was a nice girl to care them that I was married and that it would be a good idea for her favorite son to get a bit friendly. You know, he was nice, homey European type that too much taking offense to.

Speaker And then we saw truly a lot whenever she came, not so much with Bob would go up to a little apartment on the Upper West Side and she would cook goulash. And it was really a very tiny little apartment. There was a sort of teensy weensy kitchen and then just a little eating area and a room where she had the bed and this was all pretty open and then a sitting area and she would cook the most wonderful goulash.

Speaker But after Bob was killed, Cornell took me up there for comfort to Julia. And of course, she was absolutely distraught. And on the wall next to her bed, she had a picture of Bob. And you always see the picture fell down.

Speaker The day he was killed.

Speaker Well, how did your grief manifest itself, did she I guess you were at the funeral, I imagine. Oh, yes, yes. And we could talk about the funeral and what happened there. Julia.

Speaker Well, it was absolutely terrible because nobody had any experience with death. And we were all. You know, in our 20s, 30s, they've been on Mars and only and Jim were 40 or 42, Capa was 41, I think, when he was killed. And, of course. The news came and eventually the body arrived. Life magazine, since he was on life assignment, took care of getting his body back to the United States. And then there was a great deal of discussion as to where you should be married.

Speaker Oh, God, you can start that again. That was a great idea the first time I was speeding.

Speaker And I am.

Speaker So let's go back to July. Yeah. Yeah. Are you ready? Yeah, we're ready.

Speaker Bob, of course, was Julia's favorite son. She had an older son who died, I think, of to be before World War Two. But from the moment that Bob was born, because he had this little six extra finger, she thought that he was going to be a very special person. Perhaps it was like Julia, perhaps that's what it was. And so when he was killed, she was just terribly distraught. And. She kind of took it out on Cornell. You know, it wasn't very easy to take.

Speaker And so when the body got back after a great deal of discussion as to where Bob should be married about but start to started when the body came back. Yeah, you know, I keep on saying marriage because he's buried next to Drew. Buried next to him. No. Right. So where to put Bob? When the body came back and the question came up where Bob's body should be buried, he didn't fit a conventional Jew.

Speaker So there wasn't any thought of putting him into a Jewish cemetery. There was some talk of having him buried in Arlington. But I said under no circumstances because he was against war. And then John Morris was quick. I came up with the idea of having him buried at the Quaker cemetery in Armonk or somewhere near Armonk where he was living. So that's where he's buried. At the funeral of first of all, there was a memorial service somewhere in Armonk at the old meeting house there at which Mr. Steichen came, who had exhibited Bob's work at the Museum of Modern Art. And it was a great friend. Bob and Magnus had been very helpful to him in the making of the family of men. He spoke and the photography call came and various people spoke and in a quick kind of fashion. And of course, the service was also found, Bischof, who had been killed just about the same time in Peru, and an automobile automobile accident. And he was about Kopper's age, also in the prime of life. Remember too much about the service, but when Bob was actually buried, it was the most gorgeous day. In June, in this little cemetery in the country and of course, Jim had come over and Cornell was there and John Morris, of course, was there and the editor of Life magazine and various people.

Speaker And truly, I wanted to jump into the grave and I'm standing next to Egypt on the other side of Julia. They had to restrain her. She was totally beyond herself. Then came the question of saying Kurdish. Nobody knew any Hebrew except my husband. So I asked them to say Kaddish. Over Bob's body. And I think it was a Friday that we all dispersed and Julia was. Beyond herself, four years. She never got over his death. Never, never. This is wonderful picture by this woman photographer.

Speaker I can't remember her name now Obdulio sitting at Bob's grave, sitting from the back, and it looks very much like one of Bob's pictures of mourning women sitting next to.

Speaker Their loved ones grieve in Indo-China, I believe in China, yes, in fact, of the last photographs that you took. And eventually, Julia. Was also buried next to Bob and now Eddie Koppa, daughter in law, is also buried just yeah, just very recently, Eddie was just buried in November, I think, of this year.

Speaker So I'm sort of lighter then tell me tell us about the first time that you met Cornell.

Speaker Oh, yeah.

Speaker Well, I, I'm sorry. OK, yeah, just just just signal me. And if I feel like. Yeah. Like you, I feel like I want to stop. OK, I'm seeing you so.

Speaker If it's really bad like this, if it's sort of bad like this one, set the sound. Yeah, yeah, I'm going outside, I think might right.

Speaker There's no way to have to take a.

Speaker Well.

Speaker Well, then maybe we should realize we could not. I think if you don't mind, we're going to take your necklace off because this way, yeah, which one?

Speaker The longer I try to do too much. Well, it's not that.

Speaker It's that it's, you know, I guess because it may or may not show we don't know makes these a little bit more like a video camera.

Speaker The better it would be. Right. It was.

Speaker I know you might get a reflection of something we never know until it goes on the air. Oh, yeah.

Speaker Just pull your blouse down. I'm just this is weird. Technical, just. He was on for. OK, so are we good or bad? OK, you go by. She is here with us. I did, I did, and then on this side, I just want the world to see that a little bit straight like this.

Speaker Well, hopefully we'll get the winin for you.

Speaker I know it's getting boring, but that's OK.

Speaker I want to make sure that you play so well together. I'll just start asking you questions about the early Kappos, early life, whatever you know about that. You know, growing up in Budapest.

Speaker Nothing. Nothing. So only what I've read the books. OK. All right. We should stick to the 50s then. Just I think so. OK, but we can talk about certain. We can talk about what's in that German book if you're not going to go to that woman, if you like. Yeah, I will. And I know a lot of work on the 30s because of Chhim. Yes, right. Of course. Right. And the Spanish about that era we'll talk about. I'm going to ask you what it was, what it meant to be involved. Yeah.

Speaker Well, you know, I don't mind talking about the cup. I really had an absolutely horrible time in his early life, which I think made a great passion on him.

Speaker Yeah. Oh, that's kind of what I was looking for. You OK? Yeah.

Speaker Yeah. And I'm speeding.

Speaker OK, yeah. So let's talk a little bit about his early, early life. Right. Oh, great. Yeah, like a bottle of.

Speaker OK, so you were you wanted to add something about Cornell?

Speaker Well, this was a restraint of this manner of sending Cornell over to check me out was characteristic of PopCap as we are working, because later on, when unties came over to New York from Europe and spent considerable time in Europe. Again, you would write to Ernst Ernst, the vice president of the New York office, and she was 26 years old or something like that. And keep an eye on the office. And by the way, teaching them more about editing pictures and let me know everything so uncertain. I, of course, became very good friends. But all this time I had no clue until much later that this was the boss operating in an indirect way with everybody.

Speaker So he kept good tabs on everybody, kept very light fingered tabs on everybody.

Speaker You didn't suspect what was going on. So on that subject, was he a good businessman and.

Speaker Oh, excellent. Capa was an excellent businessman. He was very pragmatic. I think it went hand in hand with his entire approach to life and to his photography, which was that he was very direct. When you look at his pictures, you see that they're very direct. And when the subject weren't, it could be very passionate and very strong, depending upon what the subject matter was. But he was a brilliant businessman, and although he would go into debt personally, he was very careful about getting the photographers. Paid what was due to Magnum, also operated as a banking system, and at that time after the war, it wasn't very easy to send money from one country to another. So New York was particularly important because you could send money to any photographer anywhere in the world through American Express at that time, they could go and pick it up. Otherwise, it was extremely difficult. But he had all this worked out and. Attended to all the horrible, boring details. In the end, you shoved this onto him because he couldn't stand it anymore, but he was a very good businessman and he saw the whole picture. In fact, he had a Magnum operating a little bit like an early international cooperation, because the idea of Magnum was that the photographer should be able to do the kind of work they wanted to do, not the kind of frivolous stuff that would come to the most of the time on assignments and that it would be possible to finance them, but that they would be able to keep the rights to the pictures and would be able to resell them in every possible country in Europe and wherever else in South America. And some of these agents were old friends of Capo's. It was at least one who's a Hungarian, went back to his days in Paris in the 30s. So he had a very clear view of business and all his strutting and drinking in public and socializing had the under cover of a very good and solid businessmen.

Speaker And this is one of those aspects where you can say everybody had their own little koppa. I mean, he wouldn't show all of himself to everybody. He would show what he felt was appropriate and useful, but he would do it in such a charming way that it didn't seem scheming or anything like that.

Speaker That's interesting. So can you say more about that?

Speaker Like what what versions of himself that he showed or which people of it was a wonderful picture by Ernst Haas of Copper playing cards with John Houston and Bed and Burl Ives. And I think there's somebody else in that picture to. He would always show. Empathy so that when you got letters from people like John Houston or Ted Patrick, the editor at Holiday, they would write to him in the vein of I'm sure you know what we mean. So he would show that kind of empathy, but he wasn't given to an awful lot of talking, you wouldn't talk about a small talk. He would.

Speaker I imagined talk to somebody like John Steinbeck. More in the manner of a writer. And. With God, you would be flippant.

Speaker To a large extent, are you OK? Yes, thank you. Yeah, that's good. That was really good. Yeah. And to Americans, she would, you know, an American here, you would be, you know, with the best of the boys, go to the pubs.

Speaker Uh, but with a European, he would chose European side, which was much more intimate.

Speaker Is European side was more intimate? Yes.

Speaker So much was it went back to his formative years. And after all, he he didn't spend that much time in the United States, although you spent a lot of time with Americans during World War Two and later working with them.

Speaker Let's talk let's go back to his formative years, so I know you didn't know him then, but the things that you know about him in this early time, Budapest and. Well.

Speaker It would appear, of course, Hungary at that time had excellent education and there were certainly around the 20s and 30s, a kind of renaissance in journalism and literature and also photography. There are quite a number of very famous Hungarian photographers. So Capa certainly had a very good education. And when he finished the gymnasium, that would really be equivalent to first college degree in the United States. And as was warned at that time, young people were very interested in politics because it was still the aftermath of World War One. And the whole world was changing. There was a Russian revolution, there was a short lived Hungarian revolution, and somebody as well-meaning as Koppa would naturally have ideas about that. Everybody should get a square deal. And he was perfectly normal young man. He loved to go skiing and. I guess it kind of bugged the restraint. Of the family life, which probably wasn't all that structured because obviously his mother and father, both according to your business, must been very busy with their work. Then, of course, like most young people, you showed some interest in politics and somehow of either being mistaken for having something to do with the communist Perreira handing out a leaflet or something like that. He was jailed. And that comes as a wonderful story about what he taught himself. And one of the books which Cornell published later about how his father got him out of jail, playing cards with the local chief of police and a couple of other cronies and just said to Bob, go over the bridge and don't look back. And that's what he did. And he was 17. And at that time, there was also a depression in Europe. So you had a hard time getting somehow by Vienna, Prague to Berlin, where he enrolled in then quite famous school of journalism and somehow fell and apparently was in charge. And George kept Bush but was really starving, had a terribly hard time, didn't have enough to eat, didn't always have a pair of shoes. And then because he didn't have a language, I mean, he wasn't perfect in German, he took up photography, which was then actually a kind of avant garde profession to take up. And there was this. Drummond Picture Agency. Where he finally found a job as a darkroom boy and was owned by a guy called John Gottman, and he had around him a circle of excellent photojournalists.

Speaker I remember this once with all very famous, and they were all being published at that time, primarily in Germany and Switzerland and the many illustrated magazines that they had.

Speaker So Koppa, of course, saw their pictures when he was working on them in the darkroom, which is an excellent visual training. And of course, you would also see the captions. In fact, that was the basis for Magnum. And eventually, because no photographer was available, he was sent off to Copenhagen to take a picture of Trotsky and that's the generally first published picture of Bob Capo's work.

Speaker You said we met with you in Princeton and take a minute and so that you thought that Kappa came to photography out of desperation. Yes, he did. Could you say that and.

Speaker Well, a little bit more. More dramatic? Well, yeah.

Speaker A copper copper did come to photography out of desperation because you didn't have finished education and you didn't have a language. And he was starving.

Speaker And he didn't know this guy even knew who lived in his neighborhood in Budapest and who had taken some photography lessons, and you must you must have seen her working in her darkroom. And that's where he got the idea that you might be earning a living as a photographer, but should also be said at that time, pop from the magazine. That was a tremendous market.

Speaker And in portrait photography. I can't remember the name of that famous woman photographer who did the 20s. Oh.

Speaker Everybody knows it in this country, like, you know, a German, German, the 20s of artists of the 20s. Oh, God, I'm sorry. My age is showing all right.

Speaker Yeah, well well, photography was with.

Speaker Sort of like computers, in a way, at that time in Germany.

Speaker And.

Speaker OK, so he's in Berlin, and then, of course, Hitler became more and more powerful. And. Copper went to Paris. And again. There were many refugees in Paris, there were quite a few French photographers and the French magazines were just beginning to multiply, the business of journalistic photography was. It arrived in Germany earlier than in Paris, Paris kind of was the next wave and actually why Koppa was there in the early 30s, a couple of the important new magazines opened up like Paris Match, but he had a very, very hard time. And of course, he was also impetuous because when he did get a job once in a while from some other refugees, he might take the money and take off somewhere and not necessarily deliver the pictures. And in the kind of undisciplined life that he was living with, living with his friend there in a hotel room, perhaps it was very difficult to become disciplined. In fact, discipline only arrived with Galata.

Speaker I was just going to I was going to bring it up, so, you know, let's talk about character, what you know about her, the stories about Karradah, her influence on Cappa. And let me start with her background, because you read.

Speaker Yes, yes. Yes. But it seems to have had a very calming effect on Bob Koppa because she certainly looked like a lady. She came from.

Speaker A quite a small background in Germany, but for a while her father succeeded and moved up in the social scale, and all these countries are much more aware of social scale than anybody in the United States. The prejudice and snobbery absolutely terrible, especially at that time. But God had a rich aunt who sent her to a finishing school in Switzerland, which was the thing to do for young ladies. And so Gowda was able to speak French and other languages, and she was always beautifully made up and she was very attractive and she was very vivacious. And early in her life, she started going out and her first boyfriend was a much older man who was a very fine Hamburg family, and she even got engaged to him. But then eventually, as Hitler intruded on life in Germany and her family moved to Leipzig, she got involved with a circle of left wing students and she became part of that circle and quite impassioned about justice because she realized whatever she would do, however she would try, however ladylike she would be, she would have absolutely no future. And Germany should be remembered that emancipation of women was very strong in Germany in the 20s, sort of a much stronger than a year until we get into women's lib. So. Gowda got involved with this family of doctors with strong left leadings and somehow.

Speaker She.

Speaker Was arrested, I think she was arrested while the police came looking in 1933 for somebody else. And she was actually in jail for several weeks.

Speaker And she.

Speaker Was she had learned a lot from this family so that somehow she had the idea of communicating with a present with the other women prisoners by knocking on the wall and the Morse code, and so these various young women would give each other courage in that manner and then got to realize that one of the jailers couldn't bear to see women cry and they really didn't have a case. But then, of course, it wasn't necessary to have a case in those days if you were Jewish, you know, that was it. So she put on a great weeping act with this man and she got out of jail. Then she realized that she couldn't stay in Germany, so she left for Paris with Ruth Cerf was a friend of hers. And I think they didn't live together, but they left more at the same time. And of course. It's just absolutely amazing to think that Gowda, who had no money, was helped by this early boyfriend. She always kept her friends. She was sent money by him, she was sent money by some other. Aryan friends to help her to survive and. Paris. Which was even in 1933, teaming with German refugees of all kinds, she and Ruth serfs slept in one hotel room and sometimes they had so little to eat that over the weekend they'd stay in bed to conserve energy. And she had a job typing for somebody until one day Koppa was sitting in some restaurant, some coffee and.

Speaker He saw this girl. I think she was blonde, blue eyed, and somebody just offered him a job to take pictures of a girl for a life insurance company, and she thought this girl would be perfect. So we went up to her and she could see that you obviously look like a ruffian, as he did in all of his early photographs. She was a little wary of him. He said, would you mind going to this park with me? I want to take a picture for a couple of hours. So when she came to pose for him, she brought along Gowda.

Speaker And it wasn't apparently immediately the crude Futrelle, but over time they became great friends, got it, took copper and and told them how to wash or to shave, how to cut his hair, how to wear clean clothes, and decided that she would be his promoter and agent.

Speaker Then somehow she got a job with Maria Eisner, who had one of the earlier picture agencies in Paris, she had had a great photography background from working in Berlin. She was another sort of refugee emigre. More that time she had an American mother. She had worked for a very famous German early photography magazine called Atlantis.

Speaker So she in Berlin. So she had contact with photographers and she knew about pictures. And she opened up her little photographic agency called Aliens in Paris. And she worked with some German and Swiss photographers who actually had been to art photography schools.

Speaker Koppa, of course, hadn't been trained in photography school, for that matter, Cartier-Bresson or for that matter.

Speaker And she she hired Gowda to write captions. And Gowda help copper to develop stories. And before very long. In a sense, get to set yourself up in competition with Maria because she got jobs, tried to get jobs for Bob Copper. And. Make a little push.

Speaker Sure, sure.

Speaker I don't know, you could get into all the writers in the book and I'm rolling.

Speaker Well, A had absolutely no success with getting jobs from French editors, so he had to sort up the idea that he would become a famous American photographer. He had been trying to get work under his name, Andre Friedman. And then they decided that he would be the great famous American photographer whom French editors hadn't met, who were called Robert, who was called Robert Capa, and then Gowda was really could get pruritus, decided that she fancying Greta Garbo would call herself Gerda Taro.

Speaker And that they would work together as partners and this was, by the way, the idea of man woman relationship for copper, although he admired pretty girls, which got I certainly was with great charm. He also liked intelligent women. He also liked to work with women as equals. So got it, tried to get him an assignment, I think it was from the magazine, which was a very respectable magazine, and that's the only thing that was in demand were pictures of the Spanish Civil War.

Speaker I can't remember if he went to Spain first and took the pictures and she tried to sell them over there. I think that's what happened. First, he photographed the east. Well, yes, but the popular he got in there through shame because of him being a very quiet, cautious, careful person, had gotten himself a regular job with a magazine called Riggall. And at one time when Saddam was doing something else, he took the editor of Riggall into letting Bob Cupper cover the foreign popular demonstrations also.

Speaker So these were, I believe, actually his first published pictures of the popular and he Ensham and all of you would already somehow met three intelligent young people interested in what was going on in France and what was going on with Hitler and Germany were all covering these tremendous demonstrations they had got going on in Paris all the time. And in France at that time, there was a fascist movement and there was also very strong workers and communist movement and working conditions for the workers in France at that time. We're absolutely awful because French industry had not invested at all after World War One, so these people were being squeezed out by changing economic conditions. And so they went on strike and there come the famous pictures that Copper and Shim took in the new automobile company where they were let in. They were allowed to come in because Chhim working for Riggall, which was a very, very left wing magazine, of course, had some kind of carte blanche.

Speaker I don't have to do that now, I can tell you later, yeah, why don't you actually tell us who Cartier-Bresson was and who she was? Because not everybody knows.

Speaker Right, and how they met in Paris. Right. The various civic groups.

Speaker And this is something that people Gustman could talk about, too, you know, like.

Speaker Just briefly, really? Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is exactly known how. Well, the various stories about how she and I met one of the stories is that they were both riding on a tram and they both had miniature cameras, meaning Eliška, and they started to talk to each other and they liked each other. Uh oh. He, of course, was a sign of one of the 200 richest, most famous, most influential French families. But he was a rebel, didn't want to go into the business, had trained as a painter and taking up photography, and was very much influenced by the surrealist manifesto, not by the sorriest art, but what Andre Bickerton said about surrealism, which included. Taking the subconscious into consideration and not looking at the word literally, but rather. Playing with ideas and symbolism, I suppose, in the tradition of the great 19th century French poet. So all we had by then already travelled pretty much in Europe with as little like and taking. Wonderful photographs. But hadn't I don't think that he had really established a market for himself. I think he was living hand to mouth and not particularly taking money from his family. She was the son of a famous Yiddish publisher in Warsaw. I was going to take over the family business and his father sent him to Germany to study the graphic arts and in particular color reproduction. But then the depression came to Poland and Hitler came to Germany. She finished his studies in Leipzig when he returned to Poland. He found not only was there no possibility of earning a living, but also that there was a great deal of anti-Semitism. So he went on to Paris because he couldn't drive and he was already closed off French culture, having had a great influence on life in Warsaw. Anyway, he went on to Paris and he met a friend of the families who had an early picture agency. And this guy gave him a camera and said, look, go around, take pictures. I've got lots of publishers who want pictures to illustrate books. And so I started like that and then worked his way somehow into this magazine called Rugare, which had been established a couple of years earlier, which was a very intellectual. Left wing magazines featuring some of the top writers of the time. But it wasn't the most pictorial of magazines, that was another one.

Speaker And so. Probably. Copper, and she met at this Lek Left-Wing cultural club.

Speaker That they had in Paris, where various emigre writers and intellectuals came to talk and it was a place for people who were away from home, young people who were away from home to discuss what was going on in the world at that time. At that time, everybody was terribly afraid of Nazi Germany. And there were. Largely naive about what was going on in the Soviet Union, which was still largely regarded as a worker's paradise for lack of.

Speaker Widespread other information.

Speaker So these three guys had the miniature camera in common and the interest in politics, and so, of course, they photographed what they saw on them.

Speaker Oh, I was going to say, why don't we get some sort of specific about some of the pictures in there and how what what was going on there and what some of the pictures.

Speaker OK.

Speaker So I guess the question that I'm going to ask you is what what is the subject? What were they photographing there? And how can you tell which photograph is by which person?

Speaker Yeah, I do realize when I said that about the fires, that was about 20 years later. When I was looking at the files that Magnum, there were not these pictures, these pictures are, I realize, the same thing. I mean, rich people in photography know about that. You can tell one guy's picture from another by looking at them. I mean, that that came later when I was working on the book.

Speaker Now, where do we go?

Speaker Well, I guess as you look through this book recently, could you let me talk about what characterizes each of the three, the photographs by the three of them? How do you know it's Acaba photograph or a photograph?

Speaker You would have to ask you a very difficult question, but your book is part woman.

Speaker OK, now these three friends went OK.

Speaker These three friends went out into the street to photograph what they could see for the most part.

Speaker And what they had in common was the common interest and the welfare of everyone, the working population, as well as the better off people. But they each photographed in their own way. All these photographs. In general. I not. As. Close up. They are a little bit more middle distance from, for example, the photographs of copper. Ali, with his wonderful background of geometry and painting. Composed.

Speaker Very carefully and with a feeling of great compassion, but also a sense of non-interference. It his work. Copper being a little bit like a bull in a china shop.

Speaker Would go. Punching to action.

Speaker And therefore, many of his photographs have strong vertical compositions. And all the and passionate expressions.

Speaker And Jim's photographs being a careful, thoughtful, sensitive, so were.

Speaker Far more angry tones and copies would be much more black and white. Then Capo's, for example, and would also.

Speaker Be intellectually a bit more complicated and content. And Capo's.

Speaker So although.

Speaker They had the cause in common. The individual characters.

Speaker Showed in their photographs, always showing their photographs, which is true to this day of all, and passionate photographers, if they're working in the manner of spontaneity and of expressing individual terms in visual terms, what they're feeling emotionally. And therefore, you can't tell. Whose photograph is by whom?

Speaker Unless you start looking at a lot of photographs and then you begin to realize that it's just like meeting another person, each set of photographs will have certain characteristics, not always very easily explained in words, so that, you know, this pictures by showing these pictures by only.

Speaker This picture, pictures by Copper Koppa, A. Shimon COPO were very close and very intimate, somebody is roughly every one second.

Speaker We're speeding.

Speaker OK, Shiman, calcium and copper are very close and very intimate. Probably because they were too young and. Refugees in a different country and a different culture. They like that culture much better than the old Berchem had come from a very solid, very intellectual, a much more cultured background than Koppa.

Speaker And and, uh, that one more time, I just had a little more time, OK? Yeah. So one more time.

Speaker And copper were very close and very intimate and also very protective of each other. They got to know each other when they were young men, probably both before they were 20 years old. She came from a very settled intellectual, comfortable, more than comfortable family, and had more of an education than copper. Copper was wild, untamed and passionate. But in the political and idealistic goals, they both had the same ideas, except that Sharon was much more interested in music and in art than copper. Copper basically was interested in people and their feelings, how they were doing in relationships, whereas a lot of shimmies pictures of single people by themselves, most of Karpas people of a couple or two or three people interacting with each other. So. Because they got to know each other as young people and because they had the same. Idealise.

Speaker As indeed did all they did, and because they were in a minority, because there were not many photographers in existence in those days, they became very close and very early on at least, and copper both had the ideas that they needed a community of like minded people in which to flourish. And that eventually developed into Magnum after World War Two.

Speaker By which time Koppa had become very famous. Indeed, Chhim had had to resort to being half owner and a printing lab in New York. And Ari, after having been a prisoner of war, has himself said that he felt kind of lost on his own and wouldn't have known what to do. So after having braved the war years in the United States and the United States forces, Koppa going to all imaginable war front and already being frustrated, managing to escape from prisoner of war camp on his third attempt, got together and said, now we really want to go 40 years old. We really want to do what's important to us. And that was after seven years of war, to be able to communicate for the rest of the world what was going on. Because at that time. In that moment of optimism, everybody thought that the rest of the world would be friends forever more amen. That was, of course, also the time when the United Nations were founded. And so after they met up after the war. They also got George Rogers, an Englishman who had also been a life correspondence with Matt Cooper during the war and particularly in Naples, the four of them decided, together with an American whom they're also meant to create Magnum with the idea of giving them the freedom to take the kind of pictures that they wanted to take, which were concerned with political and economic developments in the world and with the well-being of people to create more understanding among peoples and different parts of the world to each one decided to go off to a different continent to take pictures. There was the idea of having these pictures then republished in as many countries as possible. Passing on the information and also giving them an income now in Europe, there was never much of a fuss about photographers during that time, I think.

Speaker This has been the story is that look at this.

Speaker They wanted to they wanted to have that maybe Magnum, including your hands. Oh, yes, I do want to talk about the difficulties. Yes, OK.

Speaker No, no, the general difficulties of that that the American magazines wanted to keep the rights.

Speaker Some of those things.

Speaker Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. All right. Never mind. You handle it about the legacy, OK? OK, let's go to the legacy. Don't look at me. Look at OK.

Speaker I don't know why I'm looking at you, but because you have the camera. I know it's the camera. No big black thing over here. Yeah. And also, you know, I carry a camera indoctrinated. Yes, of course. All right. Legacy.

Speaker I can't remember what it was, but but it's not really right.

Speaker So after Karpas, tremendous difficulties in being able to achieve his goal. I'm sorry I my have to be able to achieve his goal to become a photographer, but was only possible because there was a war in Spain. And you then did become the most daring of all war photographers and perhaps in a certain sense, the very first one to photograph that close up the agony and the passion of people fighting and of the people who were hurt by the war. Then after the war, there was a whole new problem of what to do. The founders of Magnum realized that Magnum was too small to be able to subsist on its own.

Speaker And they also wanted to have the new generation to keep in touch with what was going on. It was part of their nature to be in a group and to develop the next strata of talent. And at that point, Capa really became a great father figure to a great father figure, to all the photographers and Magnum and. After about the first one or two years of Magnum's existed, Magnon was founded in 1947. He invited Ernst has about 10 or 15 years younger. Austrian photographer and Werner Bischof, somewhat older, was a photographer into Magnum.

Speaker And they were all Magnum's also trying to enroll a whole group of younger photographers who would stay in the United States and work in the United States, but that proved to be very difficult because there were so many magazines who had staff photographers in this country far more than in Europe. And also they didn't have the same historical background and perhaps didn't come. They came with a different sense of idealism, you know, which was of the Roosevelt years and the depression years, which is a little bit different from the European 20s and 30s background. Well, Koppa idea was he was wonderful at spotting talent and his idea was to give everybody, men and women alike, a chance to develop that talent and to find jobs for them and possibilities of being published and therefore paid in their own way. So after Magnum was about four years old and after he'd been to Russia as a first photographer after World War Two to see Russia and after he'd been to cover the birth of the state of Israel, he then began to think about this problem of how Magnum could sustain its worldwide interest. Were the younger group of photographers and get published and also to find a subject that would be of interest to everybody in the post World War World and then decided he then decided that that would be what you called Generation X, which was then a new term for young people of 21 all over the world, how they lived and what their aspirations were. And in the end and then Magnum undertook this with the idea of being able to pay somebody to the younger photographers to do the stories and for the older photographers to be able to spread out to South America and South Africa wherever they wanted to go, to give them a bit more of an income and to enable them to also do the stories of their own on the side of these stories, which picture the lives of these young people.

Speaker And for that purpose, he devised the devised a questionnaire of about 50 pages, which these subjects had to answer.

Speaker But this was a tremendous strain on the money of Magnum, the money situation and the strain also got Bob Copper into trouble, find themselves saddled with endless bookkeeping problems, endless problems of photographers going into debt to Magnum's, that eventually he decided to be free of that and to continue with his own work. But before all this happened.

Speaker He had continued this project of Generation X, which was eventually purchased and aided by Holiday magazine in which they published in three installments, 36 pages, which was quite unusual for that time. They were already working. Magnum photographers were already working on similar projects called Generation of Women, which would show the lives of women, both professional and housewives all over the world. And then after that generation children, all of these projects were published by Holiday magazine.

Speaker Well, after Karpas death, this idea where those of these generally all of these projects were Karpas own ideas to show what was going on in the world and to show the unity of people's aspirations and the world, which was rather like the idea of the family of man, except that Magnum photographers were doing it.

Speaker But in stories about these various people's lives and the family of man should individual pictures.

Speaker That was great. All right, how are we doing, Joanna?

Speaker We've got. Eight more minutes.

Speaker All right, OK. OK, got three subjects, OK? Are we really ready?

Speaker Everybody remembers.

Speaker OK, OK, so the post World War to the post, the post World War Two World.

Speaker I had a great interest in tourism for the first time. For years, people were able to move about and to hear what was going on in other countries.

Speaker And.

Speaker A new magazine, Holiday magazine. Specialized in the idea of people going on holiday, which was a new concept after the war and after the depression, and then also passing on some economic and political information and also of fashion and so on, what was going on in the rest of the world. And copper, second story for Holiday magazine was about Budapest. You went back to Budapest, and since you had published this book, Slightly Out of Focus, which was a book largely of words about his life as a war photographer. He also undertook for a holiday to accompany his pictures with texts and a Holiday magazine had terrific writer, said John Steinbeck, Irving Shaw, Bemelmans or so all people in the first rank of journalism and writing at that time. And Karpas way of writing was to describe in words what one might describe in pictures.

Speaker Passing on information, but keeping it very light hearted with such a, well, frex as a pretty girl I met and the interesting man I met, so he built into his story on Budapest a great deal of information about what had happened to the Hungarian Jews during World War Two. And this, of course, was grim.

Speaker He did this balancing an encounter with a pretty countess, with an encounter of one of his old school friends with a Jew who had survived the war, and he told the story of how Hungarian Jews first hoped that they would be spared and were then deported and how whoever had returned or was left tried to make a new life.

Speaker And this was particularly courageous because unlike now, at that time, nobody wanted to hear about the Holocaust. It was too horrible. It was too soon. And it was just one of the horrors of war. So this.

Speaker Lighthearted, somewhat sexy manner of carpers was really. A way of getting a more serious message across.

Speaker That was fantastic. That was really fantastic. All right. The black year.

Speaker Well, but which was 1953. Here's what you said earlier when we said what I said. That was his term actually help us turn things into a.

Speaker I mean, had been a war hero and then, you know, this is how he's treated.

Speaker Rolling.

Speaker OK.

Speaker America was not only an escape for corporate America, represented a set of values which he himself assimilated very much into his own life. Freedom, democracy, justice.

Speaker And he had spent the World War two years largely as a life photographer or as a freelance photographer, parachuting, fighting with the forces or the forces all the way up Italy before that, through North Africa, before that across the Atlantic.

Speaker And although he lived in Europe. His basic values were very much American sense of fairness and justice. And so when one day in Paris, you got the call from the American embassy there to turn in his passport. This was a tremendous blow for him, one might say, that it shattered his world. Because that's the kind of photographer that he was. He needed to travel all over the world, which, of course, you couldn't do without a passport. But more than that. He felt betrayed. Because there was no way for him to find out. What was behind this? Although he had ideals of social justice for the rest of the world was much too smart from an early age on a to fall for the propaganda talk and for the seductions of communism, because he was not only smart as a businessman, he was just a very smart person who had his values straightened out, except perhaps those about marriage.

Speaker And you might just say very briefly why his passport was revoked.

Speaker I mean, what it is, it isn't. The passport was revoked by McCarthy, but nobody really seems to know why the passport was revoked. The stories about some captions in some Czech magazines and some of his pictures, and I don't know what they were to contain, except that all Magnum had a stamp which said these pictures can't be published without a caption in accordance with the sense of the one that we supply. There was a rumor that that's what had happened. There was another rumor that some girl, as you say, fingered him. So it's entirely unclear, except, of course, that he was hanging around the plot of the movie people. So I don't know whether that came into it. But as far as I know, nobody ever found out why that was. And the various archives have been so heavily censored that even his biographer, Richard Reeves, couldn't find out what the real reason was.

Speaker But just very simply, you could say for audiences who don't know very much what he was suspected of, that cause I don't know what he was suspected of being a communist sympathizers. What I'm getting at. Wasn't that that was fairly clear, right? That.

Speaker Or Bundy? Yes, well, it was copper suspected of it, we'll get it wrong, we'll get it from him. Not the same as anybody else and OK, get it from him. But we'll get it. Get it from him. OK, we got it from here. From Henry. That next interview. All right. Well, I guess the last question is when we were first just talking earlier before we were shooting, you were explaining about that, that he had reached success within the passport, was revoked and is back with the whole thing about is back.

Speaker And it's very tight, right? That's right. The last thing I do, I refer to the biography.

Speaker I don't know whether or not it could be difficult in the editing system or not, but enough copies. Last copies, that's complete. Nineteen fifty three.

Speaker One more time I was to start again.

Speaker Yes, 1953 cuppers. Last complete year. His fortieth year. What's actually a great success, because beginning in January, Holiday magazine published Generation X on 36 pages, that was in January, February and March. And in April they published an issue on Parece, which is one of the first special issues ever made in American magazines and which had largely been masterminded as far as a photography course by Bob Koppa. It had been conceived very largely and photographed by Koppa, only Cartier-Bresson and Chhim and young photographer Dennis Stock. And it was the result of the period of tourism. It was the same time that a lot of movies were made in Paris with Audrey Hepburn.

Speaker It was at that heyday, and so this was all very good, but then the very next month, Cupper passport was taken away. Which was extremely painful for him, so painful, painful that he somehow made a wrong move and his back went out of joint and for about five or six months, he was the most agonizing pain. There's anybody who's had a bad back with No. It was probably caused by carrying heavy camera bags, but what wasn't realized at the time was that a backpack makes you an excellent candidate for depression. And so he had both his passport taken away and his back gave him such a hard time that he couldn't concentrate on any work. And so it's an irony of fate that at the peak of the Magnum and personal success. All of a sudden, he should be brought so low. And only got out of this towards the end of the year when he had an invitation from his pre World War two Japanese friend to come to Tokyo and to bring an exhibition of his work, which was quite amazing because Japan, after all, had been an enemy.

Speaker And these were all war pictures taken from the American point of view. And so in March, April. He took off still in very fragile health. And went to Japan, where he enjoyed himself as a great success. And then the invitation or the I really want to talk about that because I have a fight, a lifelong fight with John Morris about that, about going to Vietnam.

Speaker Oh, my gosh. You have to talk about it. No, I can't talk about it. He's still alive. Fascinating. I'd like we want your opinion mean you haven't come across that.

Speaker So I've come across the John Moore says that he told cabinet to go, yeah, but why did you offer it to him then?

Speaker The couple did write to him saying you would think he would because he would understand that Ron Morris would then blame himself. All right, all this time, why copper was being a great success with Holiday, he was pining for an assignment really big, an important assignment in Life magazine because he had been a great Life magazine, one of the great Life magazine, World War Two Stars. But nothing was forthcoming either. Life magazine felt the competition between Magnum and itself because at that time, Life magazine was very international, that huge staff of photographers and they had also had photographers fanning out all over the world. But those photographers had security and they didn't. Quite there weren't quite able to produce the kind of story the country was produced for Life magazine when he was in China and what's to work down into Shanghai when you happen to be in India when Gandhi was shot? Life magazine after World War Two developed a whole new group of younger photographers, some of them were very excellent. And they were not interested. In giving work to rebellious people like Bob, who is no longer news. So. When John Morris. Transmitted to copper, this invitation from Life magazine to go to Vietnam. To stand in for heart surgery for a couple of weeks, copper was greatly tempted.

Speaker Because at that time. He didn't have a serious photographic project in hand. And, of course. Having been offered a job, you felt you had to prove himself, but at the same time.

Speaker As can even be seen from the photographs of Capa before his back went out and his back went out, he was not in shape. To go off to war, to ride around in the Jeep, to be shaken up, which would be absolutely. Bring on terrible back pain. So you would certainly be too proud to say to John Morris or anybody else? Well, I shouldn't really do this, but I'm going to do this because I'm really desperate.

Speaker They accepted the job.

Speaker Why don't you maybe just finish the story by saying very briefly what happened there?

Speaker Well, at that time. It was still in the trailer.

Speaker And the war was a French colonial war.

Speaker America hadn't really entered into the picture or. Copper, with his ideas of social justice, could not possibly have been an advocate of French colonial policy. They could not possibly have been in favor of what the French were doing to the people of Indochina at that time. So when he set out to do the story, it was not going to be a pro French story, it was going to be a story of what war did to those people and how they put up with it. It was, of course, just as the time that America was getting. Into the conflict. And so once he found himself out into the field, he wrote this letter saying it's going to be a beautiful story, which, of course. What's the sort of thing that any photographer would say was committed to a story? However, people at Magnum have said. The Goodbye from Paris. By Baykeeper. But somehow. Peculiarly. Serious and sad. Almost as if everybody had had some kind of a feeling that this wasn't going to end well.

Speaker And you can just finish by what did happen and how he died.

Speaker Copper went out to do a story. Yet since the death of Gowda. He had a great passion in his photographs. Of people mourning death. His favorite photograph was the picture of the mothers at a funeral of the children in Naples. He had a great feeling all his life mourning because he never really got over the loss of Gowda. So in Vietnam also he photographed a woman sitting at the grave.

Speaker I have a husband. All of a sudden.

Speaker And so as she was photographing this story.

Speaker He called out to his fellows. I'm going up the road. And as he did, he stepped on a mine.

Speaker And do you remember where you were when you heard about this? Oh, yes.

Speaker It was a beautiful May morning. We were coming back from the country, but we had friends who had a country house. I used to get up at five, got into the office at night 30, went to the teletype machine. And there was a message from Peru that one a bit of a step that that had would be driving in a car to photograph Indians in the mountains. Had had an accident that the car had turned over, falling down into the valley and that his body had been found.

Speaker We're terribly upset because his wife was just about to expect her second son. And two days later. The telephone rang. I think it was the Associated Press. Who said that Bob Copper had stepped on a mine and had died?

Speaker I was in the office, Magnum.

Speaker Yes, no, John Morris was absolutely excellent about getting all the obituaries out.

Speaker I had the job of telling Jenny. It's always felt bad about it.

Speaker And then she wrote this great memo about we've got to keep the legacy going. And we also rallied and said, look, we just have to keep on producing and keep on working. Oh, this is all going to come to naught, and that's exactly what happened. And some of cropper's. Clients Ted, Patrick and John used in particular. Well, absolutely wonderful to Magnum and for 10 or even 20 years. If Magnum Photographers assignment's. Because that was Bob Copouts family. And gave many young photographers like Ed Wood and Heidi and Glenn, who took great pictures but probably would never have gotten that chance or would have taken them much longer to get that chance. And John Houston was giving Magnum jobs right up to the Misfits.

Speaker And.

Speaker So Karpas Spirit hovered. Over Magnum.

Speaker Oh, yes, I'd say something else that broke Ground Zero, which Magnum just published in such a hurry, was truly in the spirit of the founders. And. Very moving to think that 50 years later.

Speaker Same ideas can produce great pictures in a hurry.

Inge Bondi
Interview Date:
2002-01-17
Runtime:
1:25:25
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-416sx64q6h, cpb-aacip-504-445h98zv5d
MLA CITATIONS:
"Inge Bondi, Robert Capa: In Love and War." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 17 Jan. 2002, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1122
APA CITATIONS:
(2002, January 17). Inge Bondi, Robert Capa: In Love and War. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1122
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Inge Bondi, Robert Capa: In Love and War." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). January 17, 2002. Accessed July 02, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1122

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