Also this picture is displayed in the new exhibition. It shows the young US-soldier Raymond J. Bowman who was shot on 18 April 1945 on the balcony of the house. A day later, the American troops liberated Leipzig from the National Socialist regime. Even though the war ended three weeks later – and Bowman was thus not the “Last man to die” in the Second World War, these events explain the title of the photo.
“Robert Capa came to Leipzig only once – in April 1945, and this was crucial. He accompanied the military unit and documented the events. He caught one significant moment, when a 21-year-old American soldier was shot dead. And this picture became world-famous: with the title “Last man to die” it was published in the American newsmagazine LIFE”, explains Christoph Kaufmann of the civic history museum (Stadtgeschichtliches Museum) in Leipzig.
“It was easy to prove that it is this house where the photo was taken. The balcony is on second floor. From there you can see the landscape today just like in the photo back then”, Kaufmann says. But the exhibition, which was realized with help of the civic history museum, cannot be found in the historical room mentioned. The pictures are shown in the downstairs café of the building.
Christoph Kaufmann explained that many already deemed the building to be lost: “It has been empty since 1990. The house was partly burned. And it seemed to be impossible to save it. But a courageous investor made it possible.”
“Many inhabitants of Leipzig were worried about the original plans of the City to tear down the building. But thanks to the famous history and the name of Robert Capa this house was saved and renovated instead. This is an enrichment for our city”, says a local about the building.
“Thanks to the pictures taken I could be the richest man”
That the exhibition in Capa-house has not only an artistic but historical meaning is shown by the events happening around it. As act of solidarity and to commemorate the shot soldier, a part of a street near the famous building was renamed into “Bowman-Straße”. And in the memory of the young soldier, also his former comrade, 96-year-old Lehman Riggs, came to
Leipzig to join the opening of the exhibition.
The veteran walks slowly but categorically refuses to use a wheelchair. “He was here four years ago and promised to return when the building was renovated”, Kaufmann explains and shares an anecdote: the intense interviews during his visit to the exhibition were exhausting, but Bowman showed a lot of patience: “Many journalists took photos of him, which was demanding. But he reacted with humour and said ‘If I would get 5 Euros for every picture taken, I would return as the richest man!’”