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April 4, 2016

31 Stunning Black and White Photos of Europe in the Fifties Through a Soldier’s Lens

It all started in December 1954, when the then 22-year old soldier Bill Perlmutter boarded a troopship to Germany, to start his new assignment as a photographer for the U.S. Army. The first images from Perlmutter’s Rolleiflex were taken during the rough transatlantic voyage. Even though he had never left the United States and was a bit apprehensive about his future, Perlmutter was “looking forward to photographing Europe and visiting all those wonderful places that I had read about and seen in the movies.” His first leave after his deployment to Augsburg, Germany brought him to Paris, the city of light and home to many of his favorite photographers.

Permutter’s view of post-war Italy was strongly influenced by the gritty realistic films such as The Bicycle Thief by Victorio de Sica. His preconceptions of Italy were further challenged when he found most Italians to be congenial, outgoing and optimistic about the future. Perlmutter’s photographs taken in Spain and Portugal display an honest interest in the conditions and the cultural distinctions that existed post war. His images are a testament to the different living standards in various parts of Europe.

Four Men and a Painting, Italy, 1956

Praying Priest in Front of Saint Peters, Rome, 1956

Old Couple, Germany, 1956

Dancing on the Beach, Portugal, 1956

Four Gypsy Children, Spain, 1956

Father and Two Children, Germany, 1955

Open Wide, Germany, 1955

Waiting for the Weather to Clear, Portugal, 1956

Watching the Sea, Portugal, 1956

Along the Banks of the Main, Germany, 1955

Schoolgirls in the Train Station, Germany, 1956

Front Side and Rear, Spain, 1956

Carriage and Broom, Germany, 1955

Naughty Dog, Germany, 1956

Woman in Doorway, Spain, 1956

Man With Dark Glasses, Italy, 1956

Women and Wagon, Spain, 1956

School Boys, Italy, 1956

Boy With Toe in the Sand, Portugal, 1956

Three Boys Under an Umbrella, Rome, 1956

Father and Son on a Bench, Spain, 1956

Umbrella Boy, Italy, 1956

Pigeon Fright, Venice, 1956

Nitrato do Chile, Portugal, 1956

Boy on the Beach, Portugal, 1956

Old Couple in the park, Paris, 1955

Grandmother and Child, Spain, 1956

A Kiss on the Hand, Paris, 1956

G.I. Cigarettes, Germany, 1955

Under the Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1955

Street Musicians, Paris, 1955


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