Vietnam War: What Happened Before The Iconic Shot 55 Years Ago

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Iconic Vietnam War Photo Taken 55 Years Ago: What Happened Before and After

The General pulls the trigger from his Smith & Wesson .38 without hesitation. The photo goes around the world.

© Eddie Adams/AP/Picture Alliance

A turning point in public perception of the Vietnam War: AP war reporter Eddie Adams’ iconic yet shocking photo. More pictures show what happened before and after the recording in Saigon.

Saigon (today Ho Chi Minh City), February 1, 1968: The police chief, General Nguyen Ngoc Loan, shoots the arrested Viet Cong guerrilla Nguyen Van Lem in the head, almost in passing. At this moment 55 years ago, Eddie Adams, a photographer for the US news agency Associated Press (AP), presses the shutter button.

The photo of the man on the brink of life and death went around the world, emblazoned on front pages around the globe, received numerous awards and is now one of the most iconic images in photojournalism. Time Magazine named it one of the 100 most important photos of all time.

A photo changed the Vietnam War

Eddie Adams was not the only reporter on site, NBC even broadcast footage of the arbitrary execution.

The archives of the US news agency AP contain the photos that document what happened in the minutes before and after the moment. the star shows the pictures. They are a reminder against war and its brutality:

Editor’s note: The photo series was first published on February 1, 2018: we published it again to mark the anniversary of the shooting.

The stern photo series “Images of World History” is also about photos that made history – from the beginning of the First World War in 1914 to the explosion of the space shuttle “Challenger” in 1986 and the rescue of trapped miners in Chile in 2010 captured moments in world history:


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