The aged faces of men of many nations look into Jonathan Alpeyrie’s lens for his collection of 210 photographic portraits of men who fought in WWII. The goal behind his project, World War II Veterans, on display until May 12, 2012 at Anastasia Photo in New York City, was to reunite as many veterans as possible from most nationalities involved in WWII, and he managed to capture veterans from 61 nations in total. They sit placated, wearing kilts or big Russian hats, holding medals and photos of their wedding days. They represent the countries that fought on opposing sides during the war.
More than 50 million soldiers and civilians died, making WWII one of the bloodiest conflicts in history.
“The 1921/22 generation is today often known as the sacrificed generation,” explains Alpeyrie about the project, which he hopes to turn into a book. “[they] fought for a various array of beliefs all intertwined in self-sacrifice and honor.”
Alpeyrie highlights the significance of the war using numbers: 5.5 million German soldiers killed, 2.5 million Japanese lost in combat, while 406 thousand Americans died, the highest mortality rate goes to Russia with more than 10 million killed.
Of his project, Alpeyrie says “the stories of each of these men interviewed and photographed is a treasure of human perseverance. The project contains no pretense to judge or criticize the actions or decisions taken by these men, but it is rather a recollection of a period drastically different from ours. Their testimony is relevant in a historical sense, which should not be lost in time, as the next generations to come can and should learn from this generation. The photography project will deal with as many nationalities as possible, for the simple reason that many nations were involved in the fighting. So far I have photographed Germans, Russians, Armenians, Karabastis, French, Belgium, Poles, Americans, Nepalese, Croatian, Czechs, Latvians, Japanese Americans, Pilipino, Hungarians and more…”
Parisian born Alpeyrie’s career as a photojournalist stretches over a decade and has brought him to over 25 countries, covering 11 conflict zones, mostly in East Africa, the South Caucasus, central Asia, and most recently Syria.
Take a peek at Anastasia Photo’s website and you’ll also see Jonathan Alpeyrie’s most recent work of conflict in Syria.
All images courtesy of Jonathan Alpeyrie / Anastasia Photo