Remembering Volkhard Windfuhr: The Dean of Middle East Journalists
The dean of journalists in the Middle East, Volkhard Windfuhr, passed away on 19 October 2020 at the age of 83 in Cairo, Egypt. For 37 years he was the Middle East Correspondent for Der Spiegel Magazine and for over a decade he was head of the Cairo Foreign Press Association (FBA). Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, I had the privilege of working with Volkhard as Der Spiegel’s photographer in the region. Together, we traveled throughout the Middle East and far beyond interviewing presidents and kings and covering the conflicts that have wreaked havoc on the region for decades. Our assignments took us as far as Tblisi, Georgia, in the caucuses, where we interviewed President Eduard Shevardnadze as well as to the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war, one of East Africa’s most contested battlefronts.
Gulf War Snapshots 1990 – 1991
The beginning of August marks the 30-year anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. My nearly yearlong coverage of the Iraq crisis began when I was on holiday in London in the early morning hours of August 2, 1990. At 03:30 I was woken up by a telephone call from the London photo desk of the Associated Press asking whether I had a valid Kuwaiti visa in my passport. The editor said that that Iraqi military had just invaded Kuwait and they needed me to get on to the first flight to Kuwait City. Unfortunetly by the time the sun had risen over London it was too late and instead of Kuwait I found myself on a plane bound for Cairo Egypt to help with AP’s Gulf War coverage. Over the the following 10 months I would be on the ground covering the events in Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.
The Turkish Coastline, Istanbul and My Swiss Connection (Part) V
After following the Hippie Trail on the Greek Island of Crete I continue on to Turkey and journey along the coastline until I reach the tiny tourist town of Sidi. From there I cross back through the center of Turkey until I get to Istanbul. After running out of money in Istanbul I take a bus back up to Germany and then spend two months in Switzerland getting to know my father’s family and friends before returning back to the United States.
Following the Hippie Trail to Matala (Part IV)
After traveling through Egypt for over a month, I returned to Athens where I took the ferryboat to Crete. My intention was to hike down the Samaria Gorge, a spectacular canyon that starts high in the island’s mountains making its way to the Mediterranean and then discover the lore behind the caves of Matala, a hippy haven in the 1960s and 70s.
A Vagabond Journey Up The Nile (Part III)
After traveling for six months with my high school friend, Steve Eccles, in northern and southern Europe, we decide to split up. I crossed the Mediterranean to Egypt traveling all the way up the Nile and using whatever transportation was available until I reached the temple of Abu Simbel. Then, I returned to Cairo just in time to witness Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat parading through the center of the city in an open limousine. Shortly after Carter’s visit, Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords.
Road Trip Across Souther Europe (Part II)
In the summer of 1978, I set out with my friend from high school on a yearlong journey to discover Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In this the second part of a four part series that documents my Journey, my traveling partner Steve and I join forces with our high school friends Pilar and Cathy and purchase a car. From Chateau Brandeau, in the south west of France, we set out on a journey that takes us across southern Europe and eventually ends in Greece.
The Road to Chateau Brandeau (Part I)
After my first year of college, in the summer of 1978, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to study or do with my life so I set out with a friend from high school on a yearlong journey to discover Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. This the first story in a four part series that looks at the first few months hitchhiking around northern Europe and the six week we stayed at Chateau Brandeau in the south of France working on the vineyard and celebrating the grape harvest.
Rocking the Cradle and Other Pyramid Performances
This past September marked the 40th anniversary of the Grateful Dead concert at the Giza Pyramids in Egypt. The three-day event climaxed with a performance under a full lunar eclipse. The group’s fanatic followers, the Dead Heads, converged on Egypt from all over the world to revel in a three-day musical fest in the shadow of the Sphinx. Even though I neither attended the concert, nor was I a fan, the group’s performance indirectly altered the course of my life. The concert also started a trend of performances at Egypt’s splendid archeological sites which I would document during my career as a photographer.
Remembering Gaddafi’s Unorthodox Legacy and His Night at the Museum
It has been nearly seven years since Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi was executed after he was found hiding in a drainage ditch near his hometown of Sirte. Over the course of my career, I covered all Arab heads of state extensively, but few were as unpredictable and quirky as Gaddafi. One never knew what to expect when he rolled into town. His eccentricities included staying in a Bedouin tent instead of a guest palace when on a state visit to Cairo or making a nocturnal visit to the Egyptian Museum. In sum, there was never a dull moment when covering his visits.
Remembering the Eritrea-Ethiopia War
In March 1998 I covered the frontlines of the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia after the Battle of Tsorona from the Eritrean side. The 1998-2000 conflict, the result of a border dispute, was relatively short-lived but it claimed an estimated 75,000 lives. Although a U.N.-brokered ceasefire agreement was signed in the year 2000, the two parties refused to implement the terms of the treaty until early July 2018, when both counties finally agreed to forge a lasting peace and put the past behind.
Ethiopia: Land of Many Legends and Dazzling Beauty
A journey through northern Ethiopia also known as the “roof of Africa.” For 11 days, we toured churches built by the Christian empires of the highlands, attended one of the most spectacular and extensive Epiphany celebrations in the world, and wandered in the royal complexes of the country’s legendary kings and queens, including the ruins of an ancient site allegedly dating back to the 11th century B.C. rule of the Queen of Sheba. Our journey also took us to one of the highest mountain chains in Africa where we admired the spectacular view and bonded with a handsome and friendly species of monkeys that call these mountains home.
Dire Straits: On the Front Lines of the Tanker War
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of my coverage of the “Tanker War,” I have created an exhibition featuring the photos I took of this conflict. The Tanker War was a byproduct of the 8-year Iran Iraq war and was directed at attacking shipping in the Persian Gulf. The accompanying text, “Dire Straits: On the Front Lines of the Tanker War,” is divided into two parts and contextualizes the images from this forgotten war, which has been reduced to a footnote in comparison with more recent violence that has brought greater destruction and suffering to this ever troubled region.
Rough and Tumble, Traveling by Motorcycle from Cairo to Port Sudan
In late December 1986, I set out to retrace the first ever trans-Africa motorcycle trip with my fellow adventure and water polo teammate, Mark Ehlen. In 1932, Francis Flood and James C. Wilson rode two motorcycles with sidecars from what is now Lagos, Nigeria to the Eritrean port town of Masawa on the Red Sea. Our plan was to begin in Cairo and follow the Nile south all the way to Khartoum where we would turn west and backtrack over Flood and Wilson’s original route.
Princess Diana’s Egypt Tour
On this the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death and the 25th anniversary of her visit to Egypt I have created an exhibition from my personal archive showcasing her tour as well as a little insight into what it was like being part in her entourage for five days.