Lee Miller’s War

About Lee Miller

Lee Miller in Hitler’s Bathtub

Lee Miller, one of the first female photographers to be accredited as an official war correspondent, was born Elizabeth Miller in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1907. She is best described as a woman of many lives who was constantly reinventing herself. As a young adult, she became a model for Vogue magazine. While she was modeling, Miller studied photography at the Art Students League.Since Lee Miller had experience as a photographer and a connection to Vogue, she went to British Vogue and offered to work as a photographer. At first, British Vogue rejected her offer, but eventually as the male photographers left for wartime service, Miller started to take on more fashion and lifestyle photography for Vogue. As World War II progressed, Miller moved from the studio into the field  to cover the war.

Primary Source: Lee Miller’s War

Transcription and Blog Post on Primary Source Analysis

Excerpt from “Unarmed Warriors” republished in Lee Miller’s War :

We turned through a gap in the dust-stained hedgerow to the 44th Evacuation hospital. Major Esther McCaffery, Chief Nurse if the First Army, an old acquaintance, met us and we shared the first real meal which the nurses and medical staff had had in thirty days. It was hot bully-beef, tinned peas, tomatoes, and peaches. We ate on white enamel plates, drank from shallow, six basins, caught our breath and asked questions.

A hospital is sited in an obvious, accessible, well-drained pasture which for safety sake must be full of cattle. The cows are given a quick chase around and out, to disclose bobby traps or mines and the four hundred bed tent city is receiving casualties in two and a half hours.

This evac had landed on D Day plus 34, had struggled up the hard-won valley, slept in foxholes, assembled transport and set up in this dung spotted field where for a month forty doctors and forty nurses had averaged one hundred operations ever twenty-four hours on six operating tables, as well as caring for their four hundred transient patients. 

Every few minutes a dusty ambulance rolled in or out, full or empty. Medical soldiers unblocked the liters and with gentile synchronized movements carried them through the receiving tent, fanning out the other end to the pre-ops, shock or X-ray tents or directly to the wards.

From outside all tents look-alike- long, dark, greenish-brown, humped at the tent poles like a dromedary saddle and bearing one top sider an enormous circle enclosing the red cross. White tap outlines the stakes and entrances, which is a tunnel marquee for blackout and draught-proofing. A few things inside are common to all- sloping, dark, swaying roofs, the swishing grass floor, and the silent wounded. 

Miller, Lee. Lee Miller’s War. Edited by Antony Penrose. Boston, MA: Bulfinch Press,  1992.

The excerpt above was originally published in the September 15, 1944 issue of Vogue months after the D-day landing. This article, “Unarmed Warriors, ” has since been republished in a book called Lee Miller’s War, a compilation of her written accounts and photographs during World War II. This book was published in 1992 by Miller’s son, Antony Penrose, fifteen years after her death. Since this primary source, has been published multiple times,it has been subjected to several textual interventions. One of the most recent interventions involved the formatting of this document to be published in this book. A person looking at this article can piece this together by looking at the book, The Art of Lee Miller by Mark Haworth-Booth, as it includes a scan of the first two pages of the article. In addition, one can also notice that the layout of photographs has also changed by looking at the scanned image in this book. These interventions are minor compared to the interventions that the original document went through. 

At the top of the reprinted versionthere is information about how this source was approved for publication after being censored. This disclaimer was not uncommon for articles from this time period as censorship was a wartime measure that occurred everywhere, especially during World War II. On the battlefield, where war correspondents primarily were, there were different field press censors that would look at publications and photographs before they were sent home. Once the article arrived at the magazine and the editor made changes to it, it would then be sent to the Ministry of Information to make sure that the publication did not include information that would threaten national security and military operations. These are the possible textual interventions that “Unarmed Warriors” most likely went through during its publication process.

Three Important Secondary Sources About Lee Miller

"When the War Was in Vogue: Lee Miller's War Reports"

Annalisa Zox-Weaver Biographic Information:

Zox-Weaver has a BA in English and History, a MA in English, and Ph.D in English from the University of Southern California. She has several publications in books and journals. Her 2011 book is Women Modernists and Fascism. In addition, Zox-Weaver is a book review editor and special issues editor of Women’s Studies

Bibliographic Citation:
Zox-Weaver, Annalisa. “When the War Was in Vogue: Lee Miller’s War    Reports.” Women’s Studies 32, no. 2 (2003): 131-63. Accessed March 26, 2020. doi:10.1080/00497870310062.

"Beholding the Feminine Sublime: Lee Miller's War Photography"

Jui-Ch’i Liu Biographic Information:

Liu is a professor at the Graduate Institute for Studies in Visual Culture at the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan. She has a BA in Foreign Language, a MA in Art History, a MA in the History of Art, a Ph.D in the History of Art. Her main research interests are Photography Studies and Visual Arts

Bibliographic Citation:
Liu, Jui-Ch’i. “Beholding the Feminine Sublime: Lee Miller’s War Photography.” Signs 40, no. 2 (2015): 308-19. Accessed March 26, 2020. doi:10.1086/678242.

"BELIEVE IT! Lee Miller's Second World War Photographs as Modern Memorials"

Lynn Hilditch Biographic Information: 

Hilditch is an independent reacher out Liverpool Hope University, UK that focuses on visual culture. Her main research interests include the interaction of war in art. Her doctoral research focused on Lee Miller’s World War Two photography leo.

Bibliographic Citation:
Hilditch, Lynn. “BELIEVE IT! Lee Miller’s Second World War Photographs as Modern Memorials.” Journal of War & Culture Studies 11, no. 3 (August 2018): 209-222. Accessed March 26, 2020. doi:1080/17526272.2018.1490076

Some of Lee Miller’s Images 

This image was taken by Lee Miller inside one of the dormitories
at Dachau Concentration Camp in 1945 after these prisoners were liberated. This image is related to my intended topic of looking at Lee Miller’s connection to the liberation of the various concentration camps in Germany.

Bibliographic Citation:
Miller, Lee. “Liberated Prisoners in Their Bunks.” Photograph. Dachau, Germany, 1945. From Lee Miller Archives: Picture Libraryhttps://www.leemiller.co.uk/media/Lee-Miller-wrote-The-triple-decker-bunks-without-blankets-or-even-straw-held-two-and-three-men-per-bunk-who-lay-in-/DuSZrc4-et2MVTPTRpg2Vw..a?ts=up2e1S60aNGdXkn20oP4EJGfx4I_MGGX0V1sTpH2X5g.a (accessed April 7, 2020).

This image was also taken at Dachau Concentration Camp and is of GI’s opening the doors of a train car discovering rotting corpses inside. This image is important when looking at Lee Miller’s connection to the liberation of convention camps and the GI’s who witnessed the atrocities of the Nazis “Final Solution.”

Bibliographic Citation:
Miller, Lee. “US Soldiers Examine a Rail Truck Loaded with Dead Prisoners.” Photograph. Dachau, Germany, 1945. From Lee Miller Archives: Picture Library. https://www.leemiller.co.uk/media/A-rail-car-in-the-death-train-Doctor-Jacques-Hindermeyer-a-French-medical-expert-who-was-an-eyewitness-stated-that-L/LEtaScmbnzMRD-eePsyWNw..a?ts=NtoMhxtPiwuhYITXqbq-I2yDE5nTYDKY1xGPqhycDw8.a (accessed April 7, 2020)

After the Dachau prisoners were liberated they were searching through piles of garbage to find clothes that were more presentable than what they were wearing. Again this image relates to my topic of Lee Miller documenting the atrocities of war and the victims of the war. 

Bibliographic Citation:
Miller, Lee. “Freed Prisoners Scavenging in the Rubbish Dump.”Photograph. Dachau, Germany, 1945. From Lee Miller Archives: Picture Libraryhttps://www.leemiller.co.uk/media/Lee-Miller-wrote-Prisoners-were-prowling-these-heaps-some-of-which-were-burning-in-the-hope-of-finding-something-more/ia1Ns6AIfdl92Qvwoj1ryA..a?ts=Qtpc-OOZB1gPVyQuAOL2fA..a (accessed April 7, 2020)

My Thesis For My Research Paper and Three Points of Argument 

While covering the last two years of the war, Miller had nearly a dozen publications in Vogue. However, the only place where the complete versions of Miller’s articles can be found with pictures is in a book called Lee Miller’s War. This book is a compilation of her written accounts and photographs during World War II. It was published in 1992 by Miller’s son, Antony Penrose, fifteen years after her death. In the foreword written by David Scherman, he mentioned how this book was “lovingly assembled” and “pieced together” in memory of Miller.[1] This book serves as Miller’s own account of how the Allies advanced in Western Europe. In her articles found in this book, Miller describes the European landscape while getting her readers to see and understand the war differently by telling them how French female civilians were affected by the war and how many Germans claimed “ignorance” about what was going on. Additionally, Miller’s perspectives on Germans at the end of the war provides an insight into how an American female war correspondent disliked the Germans. 


[1] Scherman, foreword to Lee Miller’s War, by Lee Miller, 7.