Pictures from the War

Thomas Kern

I met Thomas Kern in the lobby of the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad the morning after the first bombing raid. He and two other photographers had been arrested by the Iraqis, questioned and then released–rattled but safe.

We met again in southern Turkey the following spring. The world was saving the Kurds, and Kern disappeared into the mountains for four months to record what saving the Kurds really meant. He stayed there long after the journalists, the photographers, the television crews and the Minister for Overseas Development, Lady Chalker, in her yellow Wellingtons, got fed up and left them to it.

The last time we met was in Sarajevo at Christmas. Kern was two months into the assignment laid out in these pages. Although we spent long periods in the same places, we rarely ran into each other. When my fellow hacks came together in the Holiday Inn for heat, electricity and a reprieve from the misery, he was not with us. And when the hack pack called greetings to returned friends as they wandered into the dining-room, few knew Thomas Kern.

Dancing in Cambodia