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From Liberation to Liberty

Erich Lessing's documents Austria's path from liberation by the Allies from Nazi rule at the end of World War II to the foundation of the Second Republic and independence in 1955

Erich Lessing

Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Austria. 1947. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Austria. 1947. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Federal President Dr. Theodor Körner on the terrace of the presidential residence. Grinzing, Vienna, Austria. 1953. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Meeting of the Allied Council of Austria. Caps of the four occupation powers. At the end of the war the Allies: USA, Great-Britain, France and Soviet Union occupied the country. Vienna, Austria. 1954. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty From the building of the Allied Council, Soviet and French soldiers watch the arrival of the Foreign Ministers for the signing of the Austrian State Treaty. After the end of the occupation of Austr (...)
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Soviet Prime Minister Nikolaï A. Boulgannine, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, French Prime Minister Edgar Faure and British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden pose for the press in the courtyard of (...)
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Vienna, Austria. 1955. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty A friendly side of the occupation a Soviet Army choir sings to an Austrian concert public. At the end of the war the Allies: USA, Great-Britain, France and Soviet Union occupied the country. Vienna (...)
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty The death-mask of the Hungarian composer Franz Lehar (1870-1948) is taken on his deathbed. Ischl, Austria. 1948. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Libertye Couple at a 'Heurigen', the traditional tavern which serves new wine. Vienna, Austria. 1954. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Ball at the Vienna 'Musikverein', the city's largest concert hall. Banker Georg Zimmer-Lehmann with partner. Vienna, Austria. 1955. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Ball in the Opera. High point of the carnival end of February. Vienna, Austria. 1960. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Insurrection. In the council room of the city hall. In order to calm the insurrection crowd outside, the portrait of Lenin is rapidly being removed by insurgent soldiers. Gyor, Hungary. October-Nov (...)
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Mistress and maid carry remains of bourgeois possessions. A war invalid in the background. The Second World War effects were devastating: cities and infrastructure were largely reduced to rubble, a (...)
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty Operahouse ("Staatsoper"). The body of operasinger Maria Cebotari (1910-1949) lies in state in the war-damaged Vienna Operahouse. Viennese music lovers file past. Vienna, 1949. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Erich Lessing | From Liberation to Liberty The people of Schattendorf visiting their dead in a cemetery surrounded by minefields on All Soul's Day. Schattendorf, Vienna. 1949-1952. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos

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.