Hugo A. Wilmar

Pvt HA Wilmar 1945-small 2In his short life, Hugo Wilmar 1923-1957 was a frontline wartime photographer, a sailor, a war volunteer, a marine photographer, a reportage photographer, a wildlife biologist and filmmaker. As the son of an army colonel, he grew up in the polders and dunes around Wassenaar in the Netherlands, where he photographed wild animals from an early age. In March 1944, when the Allied invasion seemed imminent, he fled with a small suitcase through France to Spain, where he was arrested and ended up in a camp. Thanks to the Dutch consul, he was able to travel to the United States via Gibraltar. He received a broad education in New York as a US Military photographer and filmmaker. During the Allied invasion, he photographed President Truman, General Eisenhower and General Wainwright.

Immediately after WW2, Hugo Wilmar worked for the Dutch Navy brigade stationed in the US and in November 1945 embarked to East Java where he recorded the actions of the Dutch Marines and Indonesians. There, his sharp frontline American war photographic skills recorded frontline action and made front page of Life magazine with his photographs. Just like the American wartime photographers, Hugo Wilmar was on the “front line” and ran the same dangers as the soldiers he photographed.

The Dutch war-time photographer Hugo Wilmar later became a wildlife photographer and filmmaker for Walt Disney, now known as Disney. During one of his journeys through South America, he died tragically at the age of 34 in a fatal train accident near the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. On a mountainside near the Disney Studios in California you can still find a memory of the adventurous photographer: a commemorative stone with the striking text “Down in flight like a wild bird”. Hugo Wilmar was only 34 years old.

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