Monday, February 22, 2016

Capturing Lenin and Trotski

In a previous weblog we mentioned Donald C. Thompson's photographic assignment for Leslie's Weekly in Russia when he captured the leading politicians, filmed the demonstrations in the streets of Petrograd and in July 1917 went to the front to cover the summer offensive against the German army. Thompson's films were edited into his movie The German Curse in Russia.

Caption from Thompson's book: "Here we see Lenin (far left) with his friend Trotzky carrying wreaths to place on the graves of those whom the latter called 'glorious martyrs of freedom.'"

Thompson also claimed to have photographed Lenin and Trotski on July 15, 1917. Here is his personal account as published in his book Donald Thompson in Russia (1918).

I went out to Lenine’s place and tried to see him and make a picture of him. I saw him after a wait of two hours and asked him to pose for a picture. When Boris told him I was from America, he told Boris to tell me he would have nothing to do with me and that we had better leave Petrograd.
I told Boris to tell him that I was not going to leave Petrograd and that I would stay as long as I wished. I have made photographs of Lenine and a man named Trotzky who has come from New York. Trotzky I find a very mysterious man. He does not commit himself.

Major Scoop

Thompson claimed to have secured a major scoop with his pictures, saying he was the first foreign cameraman to have taken photographs of these historical Bolshevik leaders. In a recent post on Internet Mike Carey examined Thompson's photographic work and clearly demonstrated that despite a certain similarity these men were definitely not Lenin and Trotski. The reasons for Thompson's misrepresentation are not known. But considering his love for self-promotion the urge to stage some breaking news pictures may have been irresistable to Thompson.

Mike Carey's post can be read here.

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