TIME People

How a Speech Helped Hitler Take Power

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) pronouncing a
Albert Harlingue—Roger Viollet/Getty Images Adolf Hitler giving speech at the terrace of Royal Castle of the Lustgarten of Berlin, during his election campaign, circa 1920

The Nazi Party platform was announced on Feb. 24, 1920

It was exactly 95 years ago — on Feb. 24, 1920 — that Adolf Hitler delivered the Nazi Party Platform to a large crowd in Munich, an event that is often regarded as the foundation of Naziism.

The German Workers’ Party (later the Nazi party) already existed before that date, though it was on that day that its exact goals were laid bare: the platform, set forth in 25 points, did not shy away from the central idea of strengthening German citizenship by excluding and controlling Jewish people and others deemed non-German. Still, those ideas weren’t new for the party. So what changed in 1920, and how did that help lead to Hitler’s ultimate rise to Nazi power?

His record of speech-making was what brought the audience to that hall in Munich in 1920. And, as Stefan Kanfer explained in TIME’s 1989 examination of the origins of World War II, Hitler’s power was closely linked to his abilities as an orator:

After the war, Hitler joined a new and violently anti-Semitic group, the forerunner of the National Socialist German WorkersParty — Nazi for short. There, for the first time since adolescence, he found a home and friends. Within a year, he became the chief Nazi propagandist. Judaism, he told his audiences, had produced the profiteers and Bolsheviks responsible for the defeat of the fatherland and the strangulation of the economy. Jews were bacilli infecting the arts, the press, the government. Pogroms would be insufficient. ”The final aim must unquestionably be the irrevocable Entfernung [removal] of the Jews.”

Early on, Hitler had a central insight: ”All epoch-making revolutionary events have been produced not by the written but by the spoken word.” He concentrated on an inflammatory speaking style flashing with dramatic gestures and catch phrases: ”Germany, awake!”

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Architect of Evil

TIME conflict

The Story Behind World War II’s Most Famous Photograph

IWO JIMA FLAG RAISING
Joe Rosenthal—AP Photo U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945.

The image of American soldiers raising an American flag on the island of Iwo Jima was taken on Feb. 23, 1945

One day in late February of 1945, TIME correspondent Robert Sherrod cabled his editors a report about what had occurred on the island of Iwo Jima during the previous day. The island’s Mount Suribachi had been captured that morning, Feb. 23, and an American flag had been raised there. “A lot of the boys cried when they saw the flag raised on top of the mountain,” Sherrod reported, in parentheses, having heard so from a marine officer.

“When the U.S. flag was raised over this highest point on the island,” the magazine duly informed readers in the next issue, “some marines wept openly.”

(Read more about Sherrod’s cables from the beginning of the battle here.)

The sight that made those men weep led to one of the most enduring images of the war and perhaps the 20th century. The Joe Rosenthal Associated Press photograph of a flag-raising on Suribachi was printed in that very issue of TIME, with a caption noting that the moment would “rank with Valley Forge, Gettysburg and Tarawa.” And, within weeks, the picture had become, as TIME reported then, “easily the most widely printed photograph of World War II.”

But did the photograph actually capture the moment that made the marines cry? It’s hard to be certain. Rosenthal’s photo wasn’t of the first moment the mountain was captured and claimed, as TIME explained:

Along with the praise came inevitable murmurs that the sculptural symmetry of the picture was “too good to be true.” Last week short (5 ft. 6 in.), bespectacled, mustached Associated Press Photographer Rosenthal, 33, camera veteran of Guadalcanal, Guam and Peleliu got back to the U.S. Said he: the picture was taken without one word of direction by him, was completely unposed.

Along with him came the full story of the first flag raising on Mt. Suribachi (Rosenthal’s was the second) and the bad luck of Marine Photographer Louis R. Lowery. On D-plus-four, Sergeant Lowery, the only photographer present, scrambled to the top of 546-ft. Suribachi, took 56 pictures of marines raising a 3-ft. American flag under heavy fire. A Jap grenade landed at Lowery’s feet; he ducked, tumbled 50 feet down the side of the volcano, wrenched his side, smashed his camera. For all his pains, his shot of Iwo’s first flag raising was far from dramatic. A few hours later, when firing was less severe but still continuing, a second band of marines made their way to the top, planted a larger flag in the same spot. This time A.P.’s Rosenthal was along, got his great picture.

And, the article added, neither of those moments were official. Though the high point had been captured, it would take weeks for the marines to take the whole island. It wasn’t until March, when that mission had been accomplished, that the U.S.’s Admiral Chester Nimitz supervised the official raising of an American flag at Suribachi.

Read next: The True History Behind Downton Abbey’s Anti-Semitism Storyline

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TIME relationships

World War II Veteran Reunited With Love Letter He Wrote 70 Years Ago

Bill Moore wrote the letter to the woman who would become his wife in 1945

In 1945, while fighting in World War II, Bill Moore wrote his beloved girlfriend, Bernadean, a love letter. Seventy years later, the recently rediscovered letter is back in the hands of the still-smitten writer – and serves as a poignant reminder of his lost love.

“I was really surprised, because I had no idea it would show up in the way it did,” Moore told ABC 7 in Denver after a determined stranger found the letter and made sure it was returned to its rightful owner.

When Ilene Ortiz brought home a record she had purchased at a thrift shop in Colorado, she was surprised to find a love letter inside.

“I thought, ‘This is such a romantic letter and someone should have it,’ ” Ortiz also told ABC 7 in Denver after contacting the news station for help locating the owner.

Six months later, she got in touch with the couple’s daughter, Melinda Gale, who couldn’t believe her eyes.

Turns out, Bernadean had saved all the letters Bill sent her, but they got lost after she died in 2010, after 63 years of marriage. Gale and her father, now 90, are grateful to now have this one.

“Most of their dating was through letters in the war,” Gale told the outlet. “I can’t even imagine their relationship and how hard it would have been to love one another so very much and to never know what was going to happen.”

The letter from 20-year-old Bill reads, “My darling, lovable, alluring, Bernadean. I ran out of space, but I could have written a lot more adjectives describing you. You are so lovely, darling, that I often wonder how it is possible that you are mine. I’m really the luckiest guy in the world, you know. And you are the reason, Bernadean. Even your name sounds lovely to me. It’s just when I get so horribly, terribly lonely for you that I write letters like this. I have never been so homesick for anyone in my life as I am for you.”

“They had so many great, wonderful years together that just going back to the beginning is always something that’s an amazing thing,” Gale said. “This is the most wonderful gift.”

Seventy years after first penning the letter, it’s clear Bill’s passion for Bernadean still burns bright.

“I loved her,” he told ABC 7 through tears. “And she loved me. That’s all I can tell you, that it’s a heartache not being with her all the time.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME conflict

Cables from Iwo Jima: An Eye-Witness Account of the World War II Battle

Iwo Jima Map
TIME From the Mar. 5, 1945, issue of TIME

The Battle of Iwo Jima began on Feb. 19, 1945

On Iwo Jima last week at least 40,000 Marines fought to the death with 20,000 entrenched Japanese in an area so constricted that the troops engaged averaged twelve men to an acre. Ashore with the marines, TIME Correspondent Robert Sherrod radioed his account of the battle…

With those words, the Mar. 5, 1945, issue of TIME launched into a description of the horror and bravery that Sherrod had witnessed in the days since the U.S. struck the island of Iwo Jima — 70 years ago, on Feb. 19, 1945 — in what would be one of the Allies’ most crucial World War II victories. As the magazine explained the readers, the island itself wasn’t much, just a few square miles of beach and cliffs, but it was one of best-defended locations in the world. Going in, it was known that the Marines who fought there would likely take heavy casualties, but that there was no other option: winning Iwo Jima — site of airfields used by the Japanese, which would be game-changers if put to use for U.S. airstrikes of Tokyo — was absolutely necessary.

Seven decades after the battles, Sherrod’s cables to his editors provide unusual insight into the experience at Iwo Jima. They’re written during the fighting, and the man behind them was uniquely qualified to comment on what he was seeing: Sherrod had covered battles throughout the Pacific, and in 1944 had published a book, Tarawa: The Story of a Battle, about what he experienced on that atoll. (He would go on to write a book about his later experiences too, On to Westward: the Battles of Saipan and Iwo Jima.)

Sherrod had gone ashore with a combat team on the day the battle began and, in the Feb. 26 issue, TIME was able to quote from a message that he had radioed from before the attack. Typically, issue dates are a week ahead of publication, which means it would have been printed pretty much as soon as his Feb. 19 message arrived. In describing the fighting that had begun, the magazine passed on his warning to readers that “there is little overoptimism to be found among admirals, generals or their troops.” In fact, Sherrod’s cable had been a warning to his editors, not to readers: “I suggest that you confine this week’s action report to a simple statement that we have landed on Iwo Jima,” he also wrote, cautioning that the magazine should not rely on reports from any newer journalists among those present, who might “endeavor to win the war in the first flash.”

The next message from Iwo Jima came on Feb. 21, with the note that it would arrive in time to be printed in LIFE magazine (TIME’s sister publication) but not in TIME itself; LIFE did end up printing nearly the entire cable, about 2,500 words long, pretty much verbatim. (Interestingly, the magazine cut out some of his less objective passages, which are highlights in hindsight: “But the ultimate factor in the fall of Iwo Jima can be attributed only to the character and courage of the United States marines. In war there comes a time when power alone has reached its limits, when planes no longer can be called upon to deliver bombs effectively, when ships have no more shells to fire, when defenses will no longer yield before fire power, however heavy. That is the time when men on foot must pay for yardage with their lives. That is when they call on the marines,” he wrote. LIFE printed only the first sentence.)

Further messages arrived over the next few days, as the Marines captured Mount Suribachi and a Japanese airfield, among other objectives. “This is a record of twenty-four hours in Iwo Jima,” the Feb. 24 missive began. “It covers the period between 4:00 PM of the fifth day and 4:00 PM of the sixth day, but it might apply to any twenty-four hours in the day following our landing and capture of Motoyama airfield number one. After that early capture, the Iwo Jima battle settled down in the same grueling routine described herein – the slow advance of the front lines, the incessant booming of our artillery and naval gunfire, the monotonous whine of the Jap snipers’ bullets.”

That cable, combined with some details from the earlier messages, became the main Mar. 5 report on the situation, which ran under the headline “It Was Sickening to Watch…” accompanied by the map reproduced above.

At left, a page from a cable sent by TIME correspondent Robert Sherrod on Feb. 24, 1945. At right, a page from the Mar. 5, 1945, issue of TIME. The highlights have been added to indicate how Sherrod’s observations were used by the magazine. On a desktop, roll over the picture to zoom; on mobile, click to zoom.

TIME

Not every detail of that 24-hour period made it to print, including his sign-off, telling his editors that he could look forward “to another 24-hour period of creeping warfare, and to other similar periods after that.”

Many such days would follow: the battle would last more than a month.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: It Was Sickening to Watch…

TIME conflict

See This Map of the 1945 Bombing of Berlin

berlin map 1945
TIME From the Feb. 12, 1945, issue of TIME

The Allied bombing mission began on Feb. 3, 1945

As World War II began to draw to a close in Europe, the Feb. 12, 1945, issue of TIME reported that, “Through the smoke of fires set by R.A.F. and U.S. bombers, overcrowded Berlin could see the lightning and hear the thunder of Marshal Georgy K. Zhukov’s First White Russian Army guns.”

On Feb. 3 — 70 years ago Tuesday — the bombing of Berlin had started. Throughout that month, the air raids, hundreds of them in total, would continue. But, as TIME reported in the same issue, from which the map above is drawn, the stronghold of the Nazis was not yet prepared to surrender:

Terror came on the cold, wet wind with the sound of Russian guns. Panic came on the heels of the milling, stumbling horde of refugees. Berlin, at last, was a battle zone.

Berlin had not been captured by a foreign invader since 1806—and there was no battle then. Headed by their mayor, the citizens came out and welcomed Napoleon’s Marshal Davout with open arms; the local press lavished praise on the French. In those days, good middle-class Prussians washed their hands of the Prussian soldiery.

Last week the citizens were part of the Army. The Volkssturm men who felled trees, dug trenches and fashioned barricades from bomb rubble were simply civilians with red arm bands. Women rode on the antiaircraft guns pulling out for the Oder front. The “mayor,” this time, was clubfooted Paul Joseph Goebbels (Gauleiter of Berlin), who screamed defiance over the radio: “Factories will be blown up and the whole capital scorched!”

Berlin would be defended stone by stone: “We cannot let Breslau and Königsberg put us to shame, much less Warsaw, Leningrad and Moscow!”

Robert Ley, the besotted labor chief, feebly paraphrased Churchill and Clemenceau: “We will fight in front of Berlin, in Berlin, behind Berlin!”

Read the rest of the story here, in the TIME Vault: The Man Who Can’t Surrender

TIME remembrance

Read TIME’s 1945 Report on the Horrors of Dachau

Hitler TIME cover
Cover Credit: BORIS ARTZYBASHEFF The May 7, 1945, cover of TIME

Jan. 27 is the U.N.-designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust Memorial Day is observed in many nations on the day of the liberation of Auschwitz — 70 years ago, on Jan. 27, 1945 — but it is designed to also encourage remembrance of those killed by Nazis elsewhere. (Some nations observe days of remembrance on other dates.)

When the May 7, 1945, issue of TIME was published, those memories were still fresh. The magazine’s correspondent Sidney Olson had just accompanied the U.S. Army during the liberation of Dachau, and the report he filed would have shocked even readers who were aware of the Nazis’ crimes.

This is what he wrote:

Beside the highway into Dachau there runs a spur line off the Munich railroad. Here a soldier stopped us and said: “I think you better take a look at these box-cars.” The cars were filled with dead men. Most of them were naked. On their bony, emaciated backs and rumps were whip marks. Most of the cars were open-top cars like American coal cars. I walked along these cars and counted 39 of them which were filled with these dead. The smell was very heavy. I cannot estimate with any reasonable accuracy the number of dead we saw here, but I counted bodies in two cars and there were 53 in one and 64 in another.

The main entry road runs past several largish buildings. These had been cleared; and now we began to meet the liberated. Several hundred Russians, French, Yugoslavs, Italians and Poles were here, frantically, hysterically happy. They began to kiss us, and there is nothing you can do when a lot of hysterical, unshaven, lice-bitten, half-drunk, typhus-infected men want to kiss you. Nothing at all. You cannot hit them, and besides, they all kiss you at the same time. It is no good trying to explain that you are only a correspondent. A half-dozen of them were especially happy and it turned out they were very proud: they had killed two German soldiers themselves.

…We went on, and the great size of the establishment of Dachau began to open before us. Buildings and barracks spread on and on. Outside one building, half covered by a brown tarpaulin, was a stack about five feet high and about 20 feet wide of naked dead bodies, all of them emaciated. We went on around this building and came to the central crematory. The rooms here, in order, were: 1) the office where the living and the dead were passed through and where all their clothing was stripped from them; 2) the Brausebad (shower) room, where the victims were gassed; and 3) the crematory. In the crematory were two large furnaces. Before the two furnaces were hooks and pulleys on rafters above them. Here, according to a number of Frenchmen, the SS men often hanged prisoners by the necks or by the thumbs or whatever their fancy dictated. From here the victims could watch while being whipped and tortured as their comrades were slid into the furnace.

Each of these pitiful, happy, starved, hysterical men wanted to tell us his home country, his home city, and ask us news and beg for cigarets. The eyes of these men defy my powers of description. They are the eyes of men who have lived in a super-hell of horrors for many years, and are now driven half-crazy by the liberation they have prayed so hopelessly for.

Read the full story here in the TIME Vault: Dachau

TIME movies

Forgotten Alfred Hitchcock Holocaust Documentary Gets New Life

See an exclusive clip from HBO's new film about a 1945 concentration-camp documentary

It was 70 years ago next week, on Jan. 27, 1945, that the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz was liberated. That day is now marked as Holocaust Memorial Day, with observations dedicated to preserving the memory of what happened there, and elsewhere, during World War II.

But one way of preserving that memory was, for decades, mostly lost.

When Auschwitz and several other camps, like Bergen-Belsen, were liberated, the British army sent along a film unit. Under the aegis of Sidney Bernstein, and with the help of supervising director Alfred Hitchcock, the grisly and shocking footage was meant for a documentary called German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. However, as the war came to a close, the governments that had once supported exposing German crimes had a new interest in reconciliation. So plans for the film were scrapped, and most of the footage was archived at Britain’s Imperial War Museum until the 1980s.

A new documentary, Night Will Fall, tells the story of how the footage came to be, and what happened to it. In the exclusive clip above, some of that footage is shown and Branko Lustig — an award-winning film producer who was in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen as a child — describes what it was like to be there. Though the clip shows mostly recovering patients after the liberation, Night Will Fall also includes terrifying and uncensored video from the camps, images that, as is appropriate for Holocaust Memorial Day, no viewer is likely to be able to forget.

The new HBO documentary film, Night Will Fall, will debut Jan. 26 on HBO, with an encore on HBO2 the following day.

TIME People

How ‘Tokyo Rose’ Was Convicted of Treason—And Then Pardoned

Tokyo Rose a Nationalist Chinese radio b
John Dominis—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Tokyo Rose, a Nationalist Chinese radio broadcaster, at work

Jan. 19, 1977: President Ford pardons Iva Toguri d’Aquino, the Japanese-American woman known as Tokyo Rose

Was Tokyo Rose a charming radio host or a vicious propagandist who committed treason from the DJ booth? Historians still haven’t settled the matter. She was convicted in 1949 but received an official pardon on this day, Jan. 19, in 1977, when the case for treason appeared less clear-cut than it had in the bitter years after World War II.

Iva Toguri d’Aquino was born in the U.S. to Japanese parents and, by all early accounts, she grew up as a devoted patriot. She earned a degree in zoology from UCLA in 1940 and had begun doing graduate work there when her life took a fateful turn. She visited Japan — either to visit a sick aunt or to study medicine, depending on whether you believed her account or the government’s — and became stuck there when war broke out.

The trouble began when she took a job as a wartime DJ for Radio Tokyo, playing popular, if sappy, American music, punctuated by banter that was either playfully entertaining or a deliberate attempt to undermine the morale of U.S. troops — again, depending on whose version you believe. Although she broadcast by the name of “Orphan Ann,” d’Aquino was more popularly known as “Tokyo Rose.”

The U.S. Army’s own analysis of her program found that it had never hurt morale — if anything, according to the FBI, it might have boosted soldiers’ spirits. But when the war ended and d’Aquino sought permission to return to the U.S., the public outcry was so strong, and so many soldiers reported memories of damning statements she’d made, that she was tried for treason and found guilty on one count, for “[speaking] into a microphone concerning the loss of ships,” per the FBI. She served just over six years of a 10-year sentence.

The key problem with her treason case is that the nickname “Tokyo Rose” may in fact have signified someone or something other than d’Aquino herself, according to Ann Elizabeth Pfau, the author of Miss Yourlovin: GIs, Gender, and Domesticity During World War II. It may have been the conflation of multiple English-speaking women on Japanese radio, some of whom were more subversive than others, or, Pfau asserts, it may have been entirely the invention of American servicemen who channeled their own fears and anger into the disembodied voice on the radio. Pfau writes:

Like all legends, Tokyo Rose has basis in historical fact. Toguri’s “Orphan Ann” segments were sandwiched between propaganda-tinged news, skits, and commentary. However, the bare facts of Japanese broadcasts do not account for the radio personality so many servicemen talked about, wrote about, and still remember. Rather, this legend was born of emotions, like anger, alienation, and anxiety — feelings about the war, the military, and American civilians that soldiers were otherwise unable or unwilling to acknowledge.

While one veteran testified that d’Aquino told American forces in Saipan that the island was heavily mined and they would be “blown sky high” unless they evacuated, the worst threat in the extant recordings and transcripts of her broadcasts was — per Pfau — that she would “ ‘creep up and annihilate them with [her] nail file’ while she ‘lull[ed] their senses’ with a Victor Herbert waltz, ‘Kiss Me Again.’ ”

Read a 1976 account of the petition for her pardon, here in TIME’s archives: By Any Other Name

Read a 1944 report on Tokyo Rose’s popularity among soldiers, here in TIME’s archives: By Any Other Name

TIME Japan

Japan’s PM Abe to Express Remorse on 70th Anniversary of WWII Surrender

Jiji Press—AFP/Getty Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and his Cabinet members visit the Ise shrine in Ise, in central Japan, on Jan. 5, 2015

The 60-year-old vowed to emphasize Japan's efforts toward future world peace

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will express remorse for his country’s role in World War II in a statement on the 70th anniversary of his nation’s surrender in August.

“I would like to write of Japan’s remorse over the war, its postwar history as a pacifist nation and how it will contribute to the Asia-Pacific region and the world,” Abe said at a press conference on Monday, reports Kyodo news agency.

Japan’s relations with South Korea and China have long been deeply impacted by the country’s attitude toward its wartime actions. The East Asian neighbors will pay particularly close attention to whether Abe will uphold his predecessor Tomiichi Murayama’s 1995 apology for the “tremendous damage and suffering” Japan caused to people across Asia during the Pacific war.

Asked about Murayama’s statement, Abe said that he “has and will uphold statements issued by past administrations.”

[Kyodo]

TIME photography

Celebrating 80 Years of Associated Press’ Wirephoto

Exactly 80 years ago today, on Jan. 1, 1935, the Associated Press sent its very first photograph over the organization’s brand new Wirephoto service: an aerial photo of a plane crash in upstate New York. The photo was delivered across the country to 47 newspapers in 25 states.

In an article published that day in The Bulletin newspaper, AP president Frank B. Noyes named each of the papers that had opted into the service saying, “These are the pioneers of wirephoto, which outstrips other messengers in conveying the news in pictures just as, a century ago, the telegraph came to outstrip the carrier pigeon and the pony express, and, a little more than a generation ago, the typewriter relegated the stylus to oblivion.”

Photos up to that point were largely delivered by mail, train or airplane, taking up to 85 hours in transit. AP Wirephoto could transmit a photo in minutes.

APThe first AP Wirephoto with original caption affixed: The wreckage of a small plane lies in a wooded area near Morehousville, N.Y., on Dec. 31, 1934.

AT&T had made a previous attempt at their own photo wire service. In 1926, the telephone company had succeeded in setting up eight sending and receiving centers across the nation, which AP and other outlets had put to use. It was, however, a hugely expensive endeavor for the company and its users; after spending over $3m dollars with comparatively small returns, the service was shut down in 1933.

Before AT&T closed down its service, AP General Manager Kent Cooper had made it his mission to develop such a service in house. “KC was the father of the AP Newsphoto Service,” former AP executive photo editor Al Resch was quoted as saying in the company magazine The AP World in 1969. “He was deeply dedicated to the proposition that the day’s news should be just as thoroughly and competently covered in pictures as in words.”

Cooper prevailed, despite hefty internal opposition (the service posed a threat to Hearst and Scripps-Howard, AP member organizations that owned competing photo services) and under the spectre of the Great Depression. The story is well documented in AP’s annual report for 1934: “After discussion it was voted that Mr. Howard be informed that the Board and Executive Committee would be glad to confer with representatives of the Scripps-Howard and Hearst member newspapers, on the basis that the Board was always willing to consider any problem affecting its members and in which there was any mutuality of interest.”

Associated Press Corporate ArchivesPhotographer Bill Allen uses the trunk of his car as a darkroom to develop film coverage of a 1938 Virginia mine explosion.

The system was comprised of three main elements: transmitters, receivers, and 10,000 miles of leased telephone lines – the wires. The transmitters required first a print – AP photographers would either send in their film to be developed and printed at an AP darkroom, or develop and print it themselves using portable darkrooms. At that time, they worked mainly with Speed Graphic cameras and 4×5 film.

Once the print was made and ready to be sent, it would be wrapped around a cylinder on the transmitter. At the push of a button, the cylinder, which could hold up to 11 x 17-inch prints, would spin at one hundred revolutions per minute underneath an optical scanner. The optical scanner would shine a very thin beam of light onto the spinning print, which would then reflect light back into a photoelectric cell, which, in turn, would translate the reflections of light and dark tones into signals that would be carried across the wires.

The receiver on the other end had a similar spinning cylinder with a negative on it. As the transmission came in, the signals would be converted back into light, which was then recorded onto the negative, reproducing the original image.

AP stationed a network monitor in their New York bureau to control the sending and receiving of images. It was his job to listen to daily offerings from the member papers who would call in descriptions of the best images each outlet had to send, and then to decide which of those photos would be transmitted to which member papers at what time. Each transmission could take from 10 to 17 minutes depending on the size of the print, so the network monitor’s challenge was to decide, within the time constraints of a given day, which photos the world would see. See a dramatization of this process in the video below.

APA man carries AP’s portable WirePhoto transmitter.

Over the next 20 years, AP Wirephoto technology would be continually streamlined as the network grew. By 1936, AP technicians had made available portable transmitters that came in two 40-pound suitcases. They were bulky and required trained technicians to run them. By the end of 1937, the stationary transmitters and receivers at the AP bureaus and newspapers were replaced with ones that were smaller, lighter, and could be plugged into a wall socket instead of taking power from a wet cell battery. By 1939, the portable transmitters were made more compact and AP had 35 units ready for use. Color transmissions, which took three times as long as black and white due to color separation, became available that same year.

Picture quality on the receiving end was continually improved and fine tuned. More newspapers signed on for the service, the network continued to enlarge. As America entered WWII, the demand for pictures – and for picture delivery – forced advances in Radiophoto transmissions. Wirephoto had also transmitted maps and charts from its inception, but these became especially valuable during war time.

Postwar, the transmitters and receivers became yet again smaller, picture quality and transmission of tonality improved, and AP developed receivers that were capable of producing positives as well as negatives, again cutting down time-to-market. By 1951, over 20,000 pictures were transmitted via Wirephoto annually.

By 1963, North America and Europe were connected via a leased circuit. In the same time period, as AP began its historic coverage of the Vietnam war, its photographers were making the transition from shooting 4×5 and 120mm film to 35mm film.

Between the 1960s and the 90s there were three major leaps in technology, ultimately leading to digital transmission. The first big jump was the establishment of the Electronic Darkroom in 1978 which digitized the signals coming through on the wires. It featured computers that could crop, tone, and sharpen images as they came through. It was in a way an early, crude version of Photoshop. Operators could receive an image, edit it, and send it back out to the network without the added delay of developing a negative or making prints.

Promotional brochure announcing the AP Leafax 35, a picture transmitter that requires only a negative to transmit photographic images. 1988
Associated Press Corporate ArchivesPromotional brochure announcing the AP Leafax 35, a picture transmitter that requires only a negative to transmit photographic images, from 1988.

Negative scanning was the next push forward in the mid-80s with AP’s procurement of the Leafax, a compact and portable picture transmitter held in a briefcase-sized case. AP photographers could take color or black-and-white negatives, scan them into the Leafax, tone, sharpen, crop and add captions, then send them through to the network. With the exception of developing film, the Leafax eliminated darkroom work and printmaking for photographers and again cut the amount of time it took for the picture to travel from the camera to the news consumer.

Ron Edmonds—APPresident George H. W. Bush raises his hand as he takes the oath of office as President of the United States outside the Capitol on Jan. 20, 1989, Washington, D.C.

“That was the first step,” Hal Buell, AP’s former head of photography, tells TIME. “The next thing was to set up a digital network which we called Photostream.” Photostream was announced in 1989, and offered all digital transmission via satellite. It reduced transmission time from 10 minutes to 60 seconds, and offered a method of delivering higher quality color pictures. AP supplied every U.S. newspaper with a Leafdesk to receive the new digital transmissions.

“We had to send a representative into every newspaper in the U.S. that took photos and show them how the digital system worked with incoming wire pictures,” says Buell. “We put these desks in every newspaper, and that not only changed the way AP handled pictures, but it changed the way newspapers handled pictures.”

AP’s first digital news photo was made and transmitted earlier in 1989 at George H.W. Bush’s inauguration by Ron Edmonds using a Nikon QV-1000c. The advent of ever more powerful computers and laptops, portable satellites, improvements in image compression, and the lightning fast evolution of digital cameras, now with possibility of in-camera transmission and video, has continued to accelerate and increase AP’s delivery of images from the late 1990s to the present. Whereas in 1951 the service transmitted 22,000 images annually, AP now transmits over 3,000 images daily.

In that early 1935 Bulletin article, Noyes touched on something that was, and continues to be, essential to the news: speed, the need for which has driven the evolution of communication technology to this day. This may seem self-evident; however, as these technologies have evolved, they directly affect how news is created and how it is digested, and thus, in very profound, sometimes imperceptible ways, how we conceive of the world around us.

The launch of AP’s Photowire service initiated just that sort of weighty paradigm shift. “From Jan. 1, 1935 on, you could say that as far as the news goes, the visual had become newsworthy and capable of carrying the news, of being news,” Valerie Komor, Director of AP’s Corporate Archives, tells TIME. “Photography could be news.”

Photography is now indeed news, as is, increasingly, video. If we think of the way in which we – as news consumers – receive and read news images today, the experience feels instantaneous. Our understanding of the world is a constant, and rapid distillation of an ever increasing number of images spread over innumerable platforms. We are offered ever more perspectives, and a wealth of information. The responsibility now often falls on the reader to pace their intake of information.

“In the same way that a story can be read at the viewer’s leisure, a photograph can be contemplated at the viewer’s leisure,” says Santiago Lyon, the Vice President and Director of Photography at AP. “You are able to consider it and you’re able to have an opinion about it. And the discerning viewer won’t just look at a photograph, they’ll read a photograph, and they’ll look at all of the details in the picture and they’ll notice things and they’ll spend some time looking at a picture.”

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