Before there was Robert Capa, there was a young jewish, leftist, Hungarian by the name of Endre Ernő Friedmann. Meaning he couldn’t help but be diametrically opposed to the Nazis since birth.
Friedmann was born Oct 22, 1913 in Budapest and from a young age opposed the dictatorship there. At 17 Friedmann attended a demonstation that was interrupted by the police. Friedmann was wounded by an officer’s saber and thrown in jail. Later they released him under the condition that he leaves Hungary for good.
Friedmann decided to move to what was then the world’s center for culture: Berlin. In 1930 the Nazis had yet to take control of Germany, and any sign of the atrocities that would occur throughout Europe in the years to follow were hidden from sight.
He planned this place to be where he started his new life by studying Journalism at the Radical School for Political Studies. Having a chip on his shoulder already from his experiences in Hungary, Friedmann wanted to become newspaper reporter and fight fascism with his words rather than a gun.
Using the connection he gained at the photography studio, Friedmann eventually landed a job as a photographer’s assistant, until he heard of his golden opportunity. Trotsky, relentlessly hunted in Russia, was going to Copenhagen to speak.
Grief-stricken, Capa took an assignment as far away as he could. He went to China and covered the Japanese invasion there. When he finally returned to Spain the tide of war had turned. As soon as he crossed the French-Spanish border he was greeted by hordes of refugees heading into France. They believed the fascists were going to win the war and wanted live in France rather than under Franco.
In 1941, Capa went to Britain to cover the “blitz” on London for Life magaine. Hitler’s bombers ruthlessly bombed the city every night. It was an attempt to demoralize the British into surrendering, but Capa found it had the opposite effect.
Capa personalized the even by following one quintessential British family through their daily life in London. They turned out to be the perfect example of British courage and resistance to the Nazis.
When Capa heard that her mother and brother, who fled Hungary just after the Nazis took over, were now in New York he set off for America. This lead to Capa taking assignments all over the U.S., he covered elk expeditions, politics, and the West.
Capa thought that most Americans were nonchalant about the war in Europe. It was before Pearl Harbor so direct American involvement into the war hadn’t happened yet. This saddened Capa as wanted to cover the stories about the war and continue to fight fascism with his camera.
When American inevitably entered the war, Capa thought this was his chance to get some of the work he wanted. However, since Hungary was now under Nazi occupation Capa was considered an enemy alien. He was told to give up his camera and not to leave New York.