Six weeks after D-Day, Lee Miller left for Normandy to document the work of the nurses in the hospitals where the front line wounded were taken. After just five days of work, Lee put together thirty-five rolls of film and almost ten thousand words, to the amazement of the editors of Vogue.
Back in London in August, she set off again with the US Navy, assigned to Saint-Malo to photograph the end of the fighting in the city. Contrary to the news received, however, the war was still not over and the city was involved in a long and bloody siege. Lee was the only one sent to the scene.
A strong and courageous woman, she shared food rations with the military, recovered the wounded on the battlefield and photographed the first attacks with napalm bombs. But when she was discovered in the forbidden part of the war zone, her arrest was immediate. However, house arrest proved a salvation for her, because, she could finally sleep for twenty-four consecutive hours and write for the next three days.
After a period of confinement, Lee arrives in Paris on Liberation Day. As soon as she arrived in the city, she tried to track down the friends who lived there and of whom, for too many years now, she had had no news. She met Picasso, Paul Éluard and Jean Cocteau who with their her with questions and memories, transformed Miller’s reality for a few hours, offering respite from the trenches and sad images of that moment.
In those same days, she was commissioned by the editorial staff of Vogue to help Michel de Brunhoff get the French edition of the newspaper back on track, a task that Lee assumed both reluctantly and defiantly. She was well aware of the fact that she could do nothing but betray the expectations of the editorial staff in an attempt to represent the new trends in fashion in a country where the war had just ended.
Lee Miller’s Paris days afforded her only a temporary reprieve because, despite what one may believe, the pinnacle of her activity as a photojournalist is yet to come. Based at the Hôtel Scribe – headquarters of the Allied press – a period of incessant travel began for her and David E. Scherman that took them all the way to Germany, where the war was not over yet.