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Maxine Rude was a photographer for the United States Army and then for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). The organization was formed to help the approximately 21 million people displaced throughout war-torn Europe.
Rude was assigned to Germany in 1945. With equipment on loan from the Air Force and working from a makeshift darkroom set up in the former I. G. Farben Chemical complex in Hoechst, Rude and her assistant Norman Weaver photographed camp life.
Rude’s photographs allow viewers to dwell on the general difficulties of the post-war period, to contemplate the search for justice against perpetrators of genocide, and to glimpse the struggle of the victims of the Nazis as they attempt to return to their 'normal' lives.
Maxine Lean Rude was born in Viroqua, Wisconsin. She married Leonard Rude in 1940. It was with Leonard that she explored her love for photography. In addition to covering the UNRRA, she attended the Nuremberg trials and traveled to 17 other European countries. After World War II she traveled to South America, taking photographs for the World Health Organization in South America, including events in Bogota, Columbia, and in the malaria-infested jungles of Panama and Suriname. In 1989, she photographed the fight for democracy in Tianenmen Square in China.
Maxine was last known to be living in Arizona.
In the aftermath of the Final Solution (the Nazi's planned annihilation of all Jews and Gypsies and other races and groups considered inferior or defective) millions of people in Europe had fled or been forcibly removed from their homes and homelands. They were truly displaced. They were displaced in body, mind, spirit, health, displaced from family and friends, from home - in every aspect of their lives - truly displaced. Often their home countries in the East had become cemeteries. These people were survivors of the German's concentration, forced labor, extermination camps, and death marches. These survivors were given the stereotyped label "displaced persons," and most often were referred to as "DP's".
The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was officially formed in November 1943 in anticipation of the massive numbers of people (estimated at 21 million) who would need assistance when the War came to an end. President Roosevelt, representative of the United States along with emissaries of 44 other nations, signed the agreement establishing UNRRA. Though funded by all the signatory nations, most of the burden was shared by France Great Britain, the former Soviet Union, and the United States. The majority of UNRRA activities in Europe took place in Austria, Italy, and Western Germany which had been divided into British, French, and United States occupation zones. UNRRA's primary function was to coordinate the relief efforts of various agencies and provide for the care, shelter, rehabilitation, and repatriation of the displaced persons. Rapid repatriation was UNRRA's primary focus.
Document issued by UNRRA in Austria to a group of Jewish Displaced Persons on their way from Linz, Austria, to a Camp in Merano, Italy and a Red Cross Arm Band worn by the Group Leader.
Additional photos of the DP Camp by Norman Weaver, colleague of Maxine Rude. Courtesy of Sarah Starsmore.
Pages updated 2011-2012.