The photo above this article is world famous. The photo can be found in many books about the Battle of Arnhem and has, for example, been used as a cover photo of the Dutch book “Another view on the Battle of Arnhem” by Peter Berends.
At the corner of Steenstraat near Musis Sacrum, the German Kriegsberichter Erwin Seeger took a photo of two British prisoners of war who were taken away by three German soldiers in a captured British jeep during the Battle of Arnhem.
Seeger had been sent to Arnhem to take propaganda photos that aptly captured the German victory over the British 1st Airborne Division.
The photo appears to be an accidental snapshot taken by a photographer who was in the right place at the right time. But that is an illusion. The photo is staged. Below you will find the other photos from the photo series that the German war photographer took before he got the perfect picture.
The series starts with the photo above. A German soldier is seated in a British jeep while his colleague is looking to the left at two British prisoners of war who are off-screen.
The British take a seat on the back of the jeep. As can be seen in all photos, the atmosphere is relaxed. The British are probably from Musis Sacrum. Musis was used as “Wehrmachtsheim” during World War II and served as a gathering place for British prisoners of war during the Battle of Arnhem.
British POWs were transported from Musis to various barracks outside Arnhem, from where they were transported by train to large prisoner of war camps in Germany.
The serial number on the jeep also makes it possible to find out which unit this jeep originally belonged to: the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment. This was an artillery regiment that used the jeeps to transport artillery guns. For most of the Battle of Arnhem, the guns of this regiment were placed at the Old Church on Benedendorpseweg in Oosterbeek.
It therefore seems likely that the jeep was captured by the Germans only after the Battle of Arnhem and that the photo series was made after the fighting. This is supported by the other photos Erwin Seeger took in Arnhem and Oosterbeek. All of these photos were also taken after the British withdrawal.
Probably at the request of the photographer, one of the German soldiers takes a seat on the hood of the jeep so that everyone is in the picture.
Remarkable: in front of the wheel, one of the soldiers clamped a German hand grenade in the grip that was often used by the British to clamp an ax.
Right. Everyone has taken a seat. The soldier on the hood turns his face to the camera.
Clearly visible in the background is the broken shop window. This was most probably due to the pressure wave of a bomb during Allied bombings in the morning of Sunday, September 17, 1944, a few hours before the airborne landings.
A vertical picture, so that the turrets of Musis Sacrum are also visible.
A close-up. It almost looks like a family photo. As a propaganda photo, this is not very useful.
A photo from slightly further away. Better, but still not perfect.
Yes. This is it. The perfect photo.