fbpx
Monday, October 26, 2020

Greta Friedman, Jewish refugee and subject of iconic World War II photo, dies at 92

Print This Article


Greta Friedman, who came to the United States as a Jewish refugee and unwittingly became the subject of an iconic World War II photo, died Sep. 8 of pneumonia at a Richmond, VA hospital.
The black and white image of a sailor kissing a girl amidst the hubbub of thousands celebrating the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II in New York City’s Times Square, was taken by famed LIFE magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt on Aug. 14,1945.
Although initially the photo was buried in an inside page of LIFE, over time it came to symbolize “the exuberance Americans felt at the end of the war,” The New York Times observed. Arguably, the photo stands second only to the one of six Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima as the most recognized and reproduced image to come out of World War II.
Friedman was the unlikely focus of the Times Square photo. She was born Greta Zimmer in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, one of four daughters of Max Zimmer, a clothing store owner, and his wife Ida. Following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938, the Zimmer parents sent their daughters to safety.
Greta and two of her sisters went to the United States in 1939 and a fourth went to what was then Palestine. The parents stayed behind and were killed during the Holocaust.
On V-J Day, the then 21-year old Greta Friedman, wearing a white uniform, was working as a dental assistant in an office near Times Square, and hearing the commotion went outside for a closer look.
Arriving at Times Square, she was suddenly grabbed by a sailor, who bent her slightly backward and planted a kiss, while Zimmer tried to maintain her balance.
The advance by the amorous sailor did not particularly upset Friedman. In a later interview with the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress, she recalled, “I felt that he was very strong. He was just holding me tight. I’m not sure about the kiss. It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn’t a romantic event.”
The sailor did not give his name or asked for Friedman’s, but he was later identified as one George Mendonsa (ok). He subsequently explained that he had good memories of Navy nurses attending him during the war, assumed that Friedman was one of them, and impulsively kissed her. Later reports had it that Mendonsa had celebrated the end of the war with a few drinks.
Curiously, Friedman herself never saw the photo until the 1960s, when she leafed through a book of Eisenstaedt’s photos and instantly recognized herself.
She notified the LIFE editors, who, however, proved skeptical, pointing out that in the meanwhile 11 men had come forward claiming to be the photo’s sailor, while three women insisted on being the nurse.
Eventually, the claims of Friedman and Mendonsa were verified as the genuine ones.
In later years, as the photo’s fame continued to spread, the story took another odd turn. While in the chauvinistic 1940s, the picture was simply accepted as an impulsive and joyful moment during a national celebration, the view changed in the more sensitive 21st century.
In 2012, a writer at the website Crates and Ribbons denounced the sailor’s advance as a “sexual assault by modern standards,” the New York Times reported.
Two years later, in 2014, TIME ran a story on the iconic picture and noted that “many people view the photo as little more than the documentation of a very public sexual assault, and not something to be celebrated.”
Friedman married a U.S. Army scientist, Dr. Mischa E. Friedman, in 1956, and went on to earn an arts degree from Hood College, Maryland. She established a studio nearby where she painted and created silkscreen prints.
She is survived by a son and daughter and was buried next to her husband at the Arlington National Cemetery.
   

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

Spotify Reportedly Declines to Remove French Rapper’s Anti-Semitic Songs

Spotify has declined to take down French rapper Freeze Corleone’s songs containing anti-Semitic lyrics, Digital Music News (DMN) reported. Corleone, born Issa Lorenzo Diakhaté, released...

Israel to Begin Clinical Trials of COVID-19 Vaccine as Early as Nov. 1

The governmental Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has approval from the Israeli Health Ministry and the Helsinki Committee to begin testing its SARS-CoV-2...

Turkey’s President Invokes Holocaust in Slamming France’s Crackdown on Radical Islam

(JTA) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invoked the Holocaust in condemning France’s crackdown on radical Islam, calling it part of Europe’s history of...

Home Shalom Monday Message #28

Home Shalom promotes healthy relationships and facilitates the creation of judgement free, safe spaces in the Jewish community. Home Shalom is a program of...

More Speech, Not Enforced Silence Is the Answer to Anti-Semitism

Jewish students, whether liberal, moderate, or conservative, must demand and defend viewpoint diversity, not work toward shutting down speech. Censorship is an illiberal tendency, not a liberal one.

At a Long Island ‘Jews for Trump’ Rally, Orthodox Jewry’s Political Contradictions Take Center Stage

(JTA) — When Jacob Reich heard that Orthodox Jews would be staging a rally near his home to support President Donald Trump this weekend,...

Butler Student Gov’t Fails to Pass Resolution Adopting IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

Butler University’s Student Government Association (SGA), located in Indiana, failed to pass two resolutions on October 21 that would have adopted the International Holocaust...

Jewish Celebrities and ‘Saturday Night Seder” Get Out the Young Vote for Biden

Jewish celebrities and cast members from “Saturday Night Seder” are teaming up Oct. 26 with Young Jewish Americans for Biden to make sure everyone votes by Nov. 3.

Ignoring the Facts, De Blasio and Cuomo Paint Targets on the Backs of Jews

The level of disregard Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have shown for the Jewish community’s safety or for the power (and danger) of their words has been staggering.

Sacha Baron Cohen Exposes Anti-Semitism, Skewers Trump in ‘Borat Subsequent Movie Film’

Fourteen years since first punking unsuspecting Americans and exposing their prejudices in “Borat,” Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the role of Kazakh journalist Borat...

Culture

Jewish Celebrities and ‘Saturday Night Seder” Get Out the Young Vote for Biden

Jewish celebrities and cast members from “Saturday Night Seder” are teaming up Oct. 26 with Young Jewish Americans for Biden to make sure everyone votes by Nov. 3.

Sacha Baron Cohen Exposes Anti-Semitism, Skewers Trump in ‘Borat Subsequent Movie Film’

Fourteen years since first punking unsuspecting Americans and exposing their prejudices in “Borat,” Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the role of Kazakh journalist Borat...

Natalie Portman to Give Virtual Talk on Her Children’s Book

Actress, producer and director Natalie Portman has added author to her list of accomplishments with her debut book for children, “Natalie Portman’s Fables.” The Jerusalem-born...

Jewish Organization Sharsheret Helps Women with Breast and Ovarian Cancer During Pandemic

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s still important for women to maintain their annual OB-GYN appointments and...

Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow to Host ‘Superbad’ Reunion and Watch Party as Democrat Fundraiser

The cast “Superbad” will reunite virtually on Oct. 27 for a livestream of the movie, with actors Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher...

Latest Articles
Latest

Spotify Reportedly Declines to Remove French Rapper’s Anti-Semitic Songs

Spotify has declined to take down French rapper Freeze Corleone’s songs containing anti-Semitic lyrics, Digital Music News (DMN) reported. Corleone, born Issa Lorenzo Diakhaté, released...

Israel to Begin Clinical Trials of COVID-19 Vaccine as Early as Nov. 1

The governmental Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has approval from the Israeli Health Ministry and the Helsinki Committee to begin testing its SARS-CoV-2...

Turkey’s President Invokes Holocaust in Slamming France’s Crackdown on Radical Islam

(JTA) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invoked the Holocaust in condemning France’s crackdown on radical Islam, calling it part of Europe’s history of...

Home Shalom Monday Message #28

Home Shalom promotes healthy relationships and facilitates the creation of judgement free, safe spaces in the Jewish community. Home Shalom is a program of...

More Speech, Not Enforced Silence Is the Answer to Anti-Semitism

Jewish students, whether liberal, moderate, or conservative, must demand and defend viewpoint diversity, not work toward shutting down speech. Censorship is an illiberal tendency, not a liberal one.

Hollywood

Sacha Baron Cohen Exposes Anti-Semitism, Skewers Trump in ‘Borat Subsequent Movie Film’

Fourteen years since first punking unsuspecting Americans and exposing their prejudices in “Borat,” Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the role of Kazakh journalist Borat...

Natalie Portman to Give Virtual Talk on Her Children’s Book

Actress, producer and director Natalie Portman has added author to her list of accomplishments with her debut book for children, “Natalie Portman’s Fables.” The Jerusalem-born...

Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow to Host ‘Superbad’ Reunion and Watch Party as Democrat Fundraiser

The cast “Superbad” will reunite virtually on Oct. 27 for a livestream of the movie, with actors Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher...

Podcasts

Pandemic Times Episode 98: Who Won the Final Debate?

New David Suissa Podcast Every Tuesday and Friday. Reflections on the presidential debate and the rhythms of the Jewish tradition. How do we manage our lives...

Bagels Subsequent Podrecord

Does Sacha Baron Cohen traffic in satire or stumbling blocks? Anticipating Borat 2, Erin and Esther puzzle over the line between deception and shining...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

x