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Iconic Photos: A Mother Shows a Picture of Her Son to a Returning Prisoner of War, 1947

Photographer Ernst Haas was there to witness the return of the first 600 Austrian war prisoners from Eastern Europe. His photos captured the anticipation and grief of people searching and waiting for their relatives among the survivors.

The moving photos below were taken by Haas in 1947 at Vienna's Southern Railways Station.

A smiling prisoner of war returning home to Vienna passes a woman holding a photograph up in a mixture of hope and despair.
A mother shows a picture of her son to a returning  prisoner of war, 1947 (1)

Photo Credits: Ernst Haas / Getty Images

The magazine Heute, published in Munich by the Americans, first published the feature in August 1949. Only one week later, it was reprinted in the leading illustrated magazine of the time, the American Life, leading to Haas’ breakthrough as a photojournalist.

Crowds in Vienna waiting to greet homecoming prisoners show varying degrees of emotion ranging from stoicism to hysteria.
A mother shows a picture of her son to a returning  prisoner of war, 1947 (2)

Photo Credits: Ernst Haas / Getty Images

A woman greets her son, an Austrian prisoner of war returning home to Vienna.
A mother shows a picture of her son to a returning  prisoner of war, 1947 (3)

Photo Credits: Ernst Haas / Getty Images

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