GHENT, N.Y. -- Henry Ries, whose photographs of a battered postwar Germany documented the struggle of common people trying to regain life's normalcy, died Monday at his home in Ghent. He was 86.
A Berlin-born Jew who fled Hitler in 1938, Mr. Ries was working for The New York Times when he captured images of the Berlin Airlift, often using mundane life to contrast the darkness of war's aftermath.
In one of Mr. Ries's photographs, the shadow of a bombed-out building looms over children on an amusement park ride. In another, a woman -- taking advantage of the few short hours in the middle of the night when electricity is available -- irons while her family sleeps in the same room.
Mr. Ries's image of children sitting on a hillside watching a plane glide by was made into a commemorative stamp in 1998 to mark the 50th anniversary of the airlift, a 15-month effort between 1948 and 1949 when the United States, Britain, and France supplied an isolated West Berlin with food and other essentials.
Born Heinz Ries on Sept. 22, 1917, he was the son of a linen factory operator. His mother committed suicide when he was 13.
In 1937, Mr. Ries fled to the United States, but was sent back to Germany because he lacked the proper immigration papers. He was successful the next year and earned a living selling vacuum cleaners.
Captivated by photography, Mr. Ries joined the US Army in 1943 and became an aerial photographer. He then joined the Times in 1947.
After leaving the newspaper in 1955, he opened an advertising studio in Manhattan. Last year, he was awarded Germany's Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit, the highest award for citizens of other countries.
Mr. Ries leaves his second wife, Wanda. His first marriage, to writer Ann Stringer, ended in divorce.