Iraq: the Human Cost


Eyewitness Photographs of Anja Niedringhaus

Associated Press Photojournalist

Anja Niedringhaus began working as a freelance photographer at age 17 while still in high school. In 1989, while a student at the Goerg-August University in Goettingen, Germany, she covered the collapse of the Berlin Wall for the German newspaper Goettinger Tageblatt.

Niedringhaus began full-time work as a photojournalist in 1990 when she joined the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) in Frankfurt, Germany. One of her first assignments for EPA was covering the conflict in the Balkans, where journalists were regularly targeted by Bosnian Serb forces. On her first day in Sarajevo, Niedringhaus was hit in her flak jacket by a sniper’s bullet. She stayed in the region for ten years, covering Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia and exposing herself to the dangers of civil war.

In 1997, her foot was crushed and broken in three places by a police car while she was covering demonstrations in Belgrade, requiring three reconstructive operations. That same year, Niedringhaus became EPA’s chief photographer.

In Kosovo in 1998, Niedringhaus was blown out of a car by a grenade while caught in cross-fire. In 1999, in Albania, she was with a group of other journalists at the Albania-Kosovo border crossing when they were mistakenly bombed by NATO forces. Niedringhaus says that she and her colleagues tried to hide in bunkers and cars as the NATO forces continued to fire. The bombing went on for 20 minutes, until NATO got word of their mistake. Some of the journalists’ cars were destroyed and a few of the other journalists in the group were injured.

In 2001, Niedringhaus photographed the aftermath of September 11 in New York City for the EPA. Shortly after that, she traveled to Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul, where she spent three months covering the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In November 2002, Niedringhaus moved to the Associated Press as a traveling photographer. Much of her work since then has taken her to the Middle East, where she has reported on events in the Gaza Strip, Israel, Kuwait and Turkey. Once the war in Iraq began, Niedringhaus traveled to that country, which is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world in which a journalist can work. According to the International Press Institute, 23 journalists were killed in Iraq in 2004. In November 2004, Niedringhaus was embedded with the U.S. Marines during the U.S.-led offensive into Fallujah. She also photographed the bombings of the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad and the Italian base in Nasiriyah, as well as events at the Abu Ghraib prison and the 2005 Iraqi elections.

Niedringhaus also covered the G-8 Summit in Geneva, the terrorist bombings in Madrid and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens for the AP.

She was the only woman on a team of 11 AP photographers awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.