Erich Lessing received his first camera when he exited the synagogue from his bar mitzvah in Vienna in 1936. “There was no idea of taking up photography as a profession,” said Lessing. “In a good Jewish family in Vienna, you would only be a lawyer or a doctor.”
But the camera stayed with Lessing when he left Austria for Israel in 1939 to escape the Nazis. There he took photographs for the British army. When he returned to Austria in 1947, he started working as a photojournalist. His interest was the newly communist Eastern Europe, and the photographs he took in Austria and in Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 have become Cold War icons.