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Remembering Tom Stoddart Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

18 November 2021

British photojournalist Tom Stoddart has died after "a brave fight against cancer," according to a post on his Twitter account. He was 68.

While his most famous images were of the fall of the Berlin Wall and a shocked Lady Diana Spencer in a stalled Mini Metro, he covered everything from hostilities in Beirut to the destruction of the World Trade Center.

"I've been very lucky in my career," he said, "with a ringside seat to history."

He began his career in 1970 as a trainee on the Berwick Advertiser before moving to London in 1978 to work for national publications.

He was working extensively for The Sunday Times when Israeli forces bombed Yasser Arafat's PLO base in Beirut in 1982. And in 1992 he was seriously injured covering the fighting in Bosnia. In 1997 he documented Tony Blair's historic general election campaign and was in Berlin when the wall came down in 1989. He was on the Staten Island Ferry when the World Trade Centre was destroyed in 2001.

He described how he photographed the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to MailOnline in 2014:

It was a hunch, a gut feeling, that enabled me to witness history in the making that night on Nov. 9, 1989 and in the hours that followed.

If I'd listened to others, I wouldn't have been there, among the first photographers to see the opening of Checkpoint Charlie and the stream of humanity discovering freedom. In effect, to record the symbolic end of the Cold War.

A few days before, I'd been in East Berlin covering the growing demonstrations against the East German regime for Time magazine. I went back to London and sent my films to its office in New York.

That might have been that -- except my instincts told me that something spectacular was about to happen in Berlin. I'm a freelance and couldn't convince any of my usual clients.

So he paid his own way back to Germany and was in a taxi when he heard the wall was going to come down. He had the driver head straight to the wall and there captured images of Germans celebrating the historic moment.

In between all those headlines, there were others his camera illustrated, including apartheid's end in South Africa, the siege of Sarajevo and wars in the Gulf. To name just a few of the stories he covered in his long career.

Recently he told the Evening Standard, "I have seen many awful things, but I have also seen a lot of fantastic and beautiful things. Humans do terrible things to each other, but there is also courage and humanity. That helps me keep it all in perspective."

The Guardian has published a slide show of his most famous images. And the Daily Mail has even more.

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