[V-Mail from Walter Rosenblum]
Editor's Note: The League just received a long letter from Walter Rosenblum - no less than seven V-Mails. The letter dated May 23rd follows:
Dear Pete: I've been on the go so much, I hope you'll forgive me for not writing sooner, Lord knows I've thought of you and the League often enough. Well, first let me tell you a little of what I've been doing--before I start asking the million and one questions on my mind
I arrived in England around the end of December. I was attached as a still photographer to Army Pictorial Service, an outfit which was charged with making a pictorial record of the war. Which was fine with me, since they sent me all over England and Ireland making pictures of anything from Eisenhower down to a WAC mess hall sergeant. What with being stationed in London, life as you could see had its good points.
I guess the biggest discovery I made so far is the English people. Here are real, solid socially aware men and women. They are conscious of their problems and feel that the next election will set things right. I had a chance to get acquainted with many interesting people. There should be some good tales to tell at the end of the war.
One of the big surprises I had was that Morris Engle was stationed only a couple of blocks from my office. We met by the queerest stroke of luck. He just happened to wander into my office one day, looking for some pictures. You can imagine how happy I was to see him. We had some swell evenings after that, He seems to be doing some very fine work, and is making a real contribution to the war effort through his work.
I was moved out of London several weeks after meeting Morris. I'm on a new type of project which should be of interest to you at the League. I'm in a photographic unit of six men, plus an officer in charge. Two still men (of which I am one), two movie men, and two drivers. You see, we have our own transportation. We're attached to army field units, cover their activities pictorially, and than we move on, repeating the same process. I guess the unlimited possibilities are very evident. It just becomes a question of living long enough to do a good job. Though anyone who has seen me jump into a foxhole, would have very little doubt as to the final result.
Though I do claim the Congressional Medal of Honor. Some of those London Air Raids were a little too realistic for me. And now this business of sleeping on the ground. It's amazing how your standards change. I got into town for one night's rest on a mattress and it was impossible to fall asleep.
But what I'm interested in just now is the Photo League. How is it making out? What's new? Frankly, I'd much rather face this war than the difficulties I'm sure are now confronting the League. What is worse than a recalcitrant landlord calling for his rent?
But I seriously hope that you'll be able to hold on until we get back from the ware. In England that hasn't been the case. All the progressive photo groups have had to give up for the duration. There is no membership (they're all in the army), no film or paper available. But if we can manage to hold out it will make the rebirth that will come about at the end of the war that much easier.
The end of the war will see our art given new impetus by the democratic forces unleashed by a progressive victory. We will be faced with tremendous possibilities that we must even now begin to anticipate. Yep. We have a great deal to look forward to.
But aside from the future, photography today is faced with many new tasks. All our hopes for a free world are dependent on the complete defeat of our enemy. Fascism means to sound the death knell of all progress in art. We at the League are very conscious of this. That is why we must continue using the camera as a potent force in spite of the many difficulties with which we are faced.
In this dawn of, a new world, our work must be a source of inspiration for our people in the battles which lie ahead. What are we fighting to defend? Who are these fighters for freedom that are destroying the fascists' desire to enslave the worker? These are the things our pictures must show. Was there ever a greater ode to freedom than is being written now by democracy's fighting forces?
But enough of words. I hope that you people on the home front know that we sincerely appreciate and are fully cognizant of the work you are doing on our behalf. I know I for one am very grateful for the fact that you, and the rest of the people at the League are carrying my burden in my absence.
Life ran a stupid article on the way soldiers and civilians will be estranged at the end of the war. Nothing could be further from the truth. Estranged from the war millionaires perhaps. But from the ordinary people who are fighting with us--we love then more not less. For instance, May, who has given blood to the Red Cross so often that on the last instant they couldn't even get a full pint.
As always, Walter