Formerly a model, famously the lover of Man Ray, then a photographer in her own right, Lee Miller by July 1944 was in Normandy, France photographing from a field hospital for Vogue magazine. Her photographs of the nurses, doctors and wounded soldiers were received by British and American Vogue editors with gratitude that they could contribute to the war effort by showing readers the valiant hard work of the medical teams and the bravery of the soldiers. Publishing the photographs also alleviated the guilt about the frivolity of their magazine during the war.
In August 1944, Miller was sent to St. Malo to do cover the efforts by the Civil Affairs team to move civilians back into the town after the war, but contrary to official information, the war in St. Malo was not over. Instead, she found herself in the middle of a battle where she photographed the Allied air attacks on the German holdouts in the Forte de la Cité. The only photographer for miles her photographs of a mushroom cloud documented one of the first uses of napalm. The photographs were confiscated by British censors. She was arrested for violating the terms of her accreditation by entering a combat zone.
Later in April of 1945, Miller and fellow photographer David Scherman arrived at Dachau: Her outrage only fueled her photographic output. She cabled Vogue editor Audrey Withers: I IMPLORE YOU TO BELIEVE THIS IS TRUE.