World War II Arthur Bondar Collection

Defence of Odesa

Yakov Khalip / The Soviet Army / 31 photos

Yakov Khalip

Yakov Nikolaevich Khalip (1908-1980) is one of the greatest Soviet photojournalists, a direct successor of the Russian avant-garde in photography and a student of Alexander Rodchenko. Khalip was born in St. Petersburg in a family of intellectuals. At an early age he was involved with photography, and at the age of 20 he took part in an exhibition called «10 Years of Soviet Photography», where he received a diploma for a series of portraits of actors. His photos constantly appear on the pages of «Kino i Zhizn» (Cinema and Life) and Soviet Photo magazines. The recognition came to Khalip in the 1930s. In 1930 he became the photographer of the largest illustrated magazine «SSSR na stroike» (The USSR in Construction), and later he is rightfully considered one of the leading photo reporters of the magazine. In 1935 Yakov Khalip together with Alexander Rodchenko worked on the album dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Red Army and Navy. Khalip’s photographs are notable for their dynamism of the image, special compositional, in some cases diagonal solution of the frame.

But with the coming of the war in 1941, the work of the magazine’s editorial office is suspended, although at that time Khalip is the editor of the magazine. Yakov Khalip becomes a war correspondent and enters the Red Star and Sovinformburo editorial offices. He shoots military events at nine fronts of the Great Patriotic War — in besieged Odessa, Sevastopol, Murmansk, Vyazma and Vilnius. Khalip was awarded the Order «Badge of Honor» (the first awarded journalist), the Order of World War II, the Order of Friendship of Peoples, the medal «For the Defense of Odessa», the medal «For the Defense of the Caucasus» and the medal «For victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945».

After the war, Khalip, like many photographers during the struggle against «cosmopolitanism,» had problems with employment. He freelanced for Ogonyok, Smena and took any job, up to shooting view postcards. And after Stalin’s death (in 1954), Khalip joined the Soviet Union magazine, which became the successor of the legendary «USSR in Construction». The photographer worked in this magazine until the end of his life.

In my long search for unknown wartime negatives, I unexpectedly stumbled upon Yakov Khalip’s film negatives from a private collector. And today we are able to see the unknown photographs by Yakov Khalip which he captured in the heroic city of Odessa, besieged by the German army in 1941.

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Siege of Leningrad
Mikhail Prigozhin / The Soviet Army / 31 photos