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Inventory of the Erich Lessing Hungarian Revolution photographs 6008
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Acquisition
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • General note
  • Biographical note
  • Arrangement
  • Scope and Content
  • Historical note

  • Title: Erich Lessing Hungarian Revolution photographs
    Collection number: 6008
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 2.0 Linear feet 1 box
    Date: 1956, 1998, 2006
    Abstract: Photographs created by Austrian photographer Erich Lessing, documenting the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The photographs were printed in 2006 for an exhibition held at USC Libraries' Doheny Memorial Library commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.
    creator: Lessing, Erich


    Purchased from Erich Lessing, 2006.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Advance notice required for access.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Erich Lessing Hungarian Revolution photographs, Collection no. 6008, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    General note

    Purchased for the exhibition "Five Days of Freedom: Photographs from the Hungarian Revolution," on display in Doheny memorial Library, September 17-December 17, 2006.

    Biographical note

    Erich Lessing was born in Vienna July 13, 1923, the son of a dentist and a concert pianist. Hitler's occupation of Austria in 1939 forced his emigration to Israel (then still the British Mandate Palestine), leaving behind his mother in Vienna, who eventually perished at Auschwitz. In Israel, Lessing worked on several kibbutzim, and returned to photography, a childhood hobby, working as a kindergarten photographer and later as photographer with the British Army.
    In 1947 he returned to Austria, worked as a photographer for the Associated Press and, in 1951, joined Magnum Photos, the world-famous photographer's cooperative. Working chiefly for LIFE, Paris Match, Picture Post, EPOCA and Quick Magazine, he documented political events in post-war Europe, particularly in the former Communist countries. He covered the Hungarian Revolution, several summit meetings and President Charles de Gaulle's visit to Algeria.
    After 1960 his focus shifted towards history in an attempt to bring historical personalities and epochs alive in what he called photographic "evocations." These evocations included the lives and times of great musicians, poets, physicists and astronomers. Erich Lessing's more than 40 books include works on the history of Austria, the travels of Ulysses, two different volumes on the Old Testament, the Italian Renaissance, the history of the Low Countries, the Travels of Saint Paul, the Greek Myths, two books on Art and Religion in Ancient Egypt, a History of France and many more.
    Erich Lessing has taught photography in Arles, at the Venice Biennale, in Ahmedabad in India as a UNIDO-expert, at the Salzburg summer Academy and at the Academy of Applied Art in Vienna. He has been the recipient of many prizes over the course of his career, including the Imre Nagy-medal, bestowed by the President of the Hungarian republic for his work during the Hungarian revolution.
    Erich Lessing lives in Vienna. He is married to a journalist, has three children and five grandchildren.
    [Adapted from the biography available on the Lessing Photo Archive website, http://www.lessing-photo.com/biopers.asp ]


    The photographs are identified by Lessing's accession number (written in pencil on the reverse of each print). The scope notes for the first 50 photographs are the captions used in the 2006 exhibition; the scope notes for the remaining 20 photographs are the original descriptive captions provided by Lessing's studio.

    Scope and Content

    70 photographs created by Austrian photographer Erich Lessing, documenting the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

    Historical note

    Soon after the end of World War II, the Soviet Union seized power in the recently defeated countries of Eastern Europe and instituted Communist rule. On October 23, 1956, thousands of Hungarians in Budapest took to the streets to demand political reform and an end to the occupation. After a few brief skirmishes with protesters, which included students, factory workers, and Hungarian soldiers, the Soviets withdrew across the border. Jubilant citizens took to the streets celebrating their newly found freedom. However, the Soviets counterattacked shortly thereafter, crushing this nascent revolution and forcing nearly 250,000 people to flee the country. Austrian photojournalist Erich Lessing documented the dramatic events leading up to, during, and after the conflict with images that show both a people's desperate fight for freedom and the stark reality of life in Communist Europe in the middle of the twentieth century.
    ["Five Days of Freedom: Photographs from the Hungarian Revolution"]

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Lessing, Erich -- Photograph collections
    Hungary--History--Revolution, 1956--Photographs