Revealed at last: the images someone did not want you to see

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The Independent Culture

Joan Crawford being kissed by an admirer at the Dorchester Hotel; Hitler dancing to a recording of one of his speeches, and the devastating scene of the aftermath of a V2 missile attack in London.

Joan Crawford being kissed by an admirer at the Dorchester Hotel; Hitler dancing to a recording of one of his speeches, and the devastating scene of the aftermath of a V2 missile attack in London.

These are hidden moments in history, captured on film but not widely distributed at the time. The collection of nearly 200 photographs, which were either banned, manipulated or distorted, feature in Underexposed, a book published by the magazine Index on Censorship yesterday.

Many of the original photographs, which all belong to the Hulton Getty collection, are still rubber stamped on the back with "Not to be reproduced" or "Destroy this negative".

Ursula Owen, editor of Index, said her magazine wanted to offer a different version of the past 100 years. "There is much to celebrate and marvel at about this century and, as we approach the millennium, we are being shown a mass of images covering its glorious and dramatic moments," she said.

"But there is another, hidden history of the century. Here are the dramas never told and the events that we would rather forget about. From the harrowing to the bizarre, from terrible tragedy to high comedy, these photographs, from all over the world, give us a daunting and yet heroic sense of what this century has really been."

Among the banned photographs published by Index is one taken at Ayatollah Khomeini's funeral in 1989. It is thought to be the only record of the funeral to escape Iran, and has never before been printed in Britain. The authorities confiscated and destroyed all other film of the scene at which the crowd of 2 million stripped his body, anxious to secure a souvenir. The photographer remains anonymous.

A photograph taken in 1925 of Hitler gesticulating to a recording of an earlier speech reveals him honing his supposedly natural demagogic skills. Hitler ordered his official photographer, Heinrich Hoffman, to destroy the negatives, but Hoffman disobeyed him.

Later, the British government censored disturbing photos of scenes of bomb damage that might undermine morale.

Writing in Underexposed , Harold Evans, former newspaper editor and author of Pictures on a Page , discussed the suppression of pictures of war, either by governments or newspapers. "In World War II, I might have hesitated to publish the images of charred bodies after the German bombing of Coventry out of deference to the relatives," he writes.

"Those pictures were suppressed by the government as damaging to morale and in a national crisis that is an argument that deserves some respect - but not too much. The people ought to have a clear idea of the sacrifices being made, of what is being done in their name."

The book also includes images of the human body that have been deemed disturbing, as well as altered and airbrushed images that have helped to rewrite history.

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