Tony Vaccaro - The Soldier with the Camera

Author & Director:
Juergen Ast | Reinhardt Schultz

Commissioning Editors:
Anette Reiß | Helfried Spitra | Johannes Unger


astfilm productions | Galerie Bilderwelt | MDR | ORB // ARD

June 1944. At great cost in human life, American and British troops capture parts of the French coast in the Normandy. The largest landing operation in the 20th century opens a second front against Nazi Germany. For tens of thousands of young soldiers, the horror of the war now becomes part of their life. So it was for the 22 years old GI Tony Vaccaro from New York, who is also driven by a very special mission. He carries his M-1 assault rifle in one hand, and a camera in the other. With both of his "weapons", during the next 300 days he fights his way through France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany, across the Elbe River, up to short of Berlin.

Vaccaro takes over 4000 pictures along the long, deadly road. It is probably the most extraordinary and extensive collection of pictures telling of life and death in times of war - a mosaic display of horror and human dignity. Intuitional and direct pictures. Moments of fear and hope, of triumph and death - "Shots of War".

50 years after the end of the 2nd World War, Tony Vaccaro returns to the battlefields, recalls the moments when his world famous "snapshots" were taken, meets with back then friends and enemies. Memories and reflections, added with rare archive footage, photos and today impression. Once again, the documentary tells of Vaccaro's long way from New York up to the Elbe River: the faces of the dead and dying, the kiss of liberation, the horror of the "wonder weapons", the taking of the town Wernigerode, the eyes of the German prisoners of war, the fraternization with Russian soldiers of the Red Army. The documentary - the extraordinary and inimitable story of Tony Vaccaro, the soldier with the camera, and his famous pictures that till today didn't lost their probative force against war.