Anja Niedringhaus was born on October 12, 1965, in Höxter, a small Westphalian town in Germany. The middle child of Karl-Heinz and Heide Ute Niedringhaus‘ three daughters. She knew early on what she wanted, and she was curious about the world out there: „Since I was 12 years old, I wanted to be a photographer.“ Even as a young girl, she was taking photographs. At first for her school‘s newspaper, then as a freelancer for the local newspaper „Neue Westfälische“.
After graduating high school in 1986, she moved to India to work for a German charity organization for children, Kindernothilfe. Upon her return, she studied German, philosophy and journalism in Göttingen. At the same time, she worked as a reporter and photographer for the local newspaper „Göttinger Tageblatt“. In 1990, her images of the Fall of the Berlin Wall landed her a full-time job with the European Pressphoto Agency, becoming their first female employee and later their chief photographer. After two years as a sports and society photographer, she insisted on being sent to Yugoslavia where war had broken out.
She escaped death multiple times. During her first tour in Sarajevo, she was hit by a sniper bullet. Her bullet-proof vest saved her life. In 1997, in a collision with a police car in Belgrade, she suffered several bone fractures in her foot. In Kosovo in 1998, she was hit by a shrapnel. A year later, she was with a group of journalists near the border between Albania and Kosovo, when they were accidentally attacked by NATO bombers. Another close call was when she came under bombardement in Kandahar in 2010 and was hit by several pieces of shrapnel. Things got equally dicey when the U.S. rescue helicopters she embedded with were attacked.
In 2001, Anja Niedringhaus photographed the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York. Shortly thereafter, she went to Afghanistan for the first time, reporting on the fall of the radical Islamist Taliban in Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul for three months. In 2002, she began working for the U.S. news agency Associated Press and was officially based in Geneva ever since. The stamps in her passport read like a chronicle of the world‘s major conflict zones: Gaza strip, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, Libya and Kuwait. But she also covered Wimbledon and other major sports events.
Her images appeared on front pages around the world. And made her famous. With empathy and respect for the victims, she photographed in Abu-Ghuraib as well as the assault on Fallujah, the airstrikes on two fuel tankers in Kunduz ordered by German Army Colonel Georg Klein, and the attack on the Baghdad headquarters of the International Red Cross. She wasn‘t interested in the technical side of war but rather in the effects of war on people. The view behind the scenes of war, the difficult everyday lives of the population, particularly the lives of childres in the midst of unbearable disaster, was important to her. Of all countries she reported from for decades, Afghanistan was closest to her heart.
Her death on April 4, 2014, was met with widespread shock and dismay. On April 12, 2014, she was buried in her hometown, Höxter. The funeral attracted worldwide attention. A plaque at the historic town hall in Höxter recalls international acclaimed photographer Anja Niedringhaus.
1999 Fuji European Press Award
2000 Award of the American Press Photographers‘ Association
2003 Award of Excellende in the Photos of the Year International (POYi)
2003 Premio Ischia Internazionale di Giornalismo
2005 Pulitzer Prize für Breaking News Photography (together with nine colleagues) for a photo series about the bloody battles in Iraqi cities. She was the first woman from Germany to win this Prize.
2005 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Womens‘s Media Foundation (IWMF)
2008 The Golden Quill (Media Prize of Bauer Media Group)
2011 1st Prize, Abisag Tüllmann Award
2001 Anja Niedringhaus. Fotografien. Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) Frankfurt
2011 Anja Niedringhaus – at war. Verlag Hatje Cantz
2012 Bilderkrieger. Ankerherz Verlag
2014 Anja Niedringhaus – at war. New updated Edition
2017 „Geliebtes Afghanistan“, Galerie im Neuen Augusteum, Universität Leipzig
2016 „Anja Niedringhaus – die Fotografin“, Galerie im Forum der Stadthalle Gütersloh
2016 „Geliebtes Afghanistan“, Franz-Hitze-Haus Münster
2015 „Geliebtes Afghanistan“, Willy-Brandt-Haus Berliner
2015 „Anja Niedringhaus – at war“, Paderborner Fototage, Kreishaus Paderborn
2015 „at world“, Korbmacher-Museum Dalhausen
2015 „Bilder vom Krieg“, Galerie für Fotografie (GAF), Eisfabrik Hannover
2015 „at war“, Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern
2014 „Über das Leben von Anja Niedringhaus“, Leica Galery, photokina Köln
2014 „Anja Niedringhaus – in memoriam“, Ausstellung der Gruppe Deutsche Börse
2014 „Anja Niedringhaus – Hommage“, International festival of photojournalism, Perpignan
2014 „Gesichter des Krieges“, Stadthaus Ulm
2014 „at war“, Coalmine Winterthur, Forum für Dokumentarfotografie
2013 „at war“, Forum Jacob Pins Höxter
2013 „at sports“, Museum Burg Dringenberg
2012 „Fotografie aus Kriegsgebieten“, Kunstverein Kassel
2012 „Fotografie total“, Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) Frankfurt
2012 „Anja Niedringhaus – 20 Jahre Fotografie aus Kriegsgebieten“, Ruhruniversität Bochum
2012 „at war“, Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Eschborn
2011 „at war“, C/O Foundation, Amerika Haus Berlin
2010 „The Luzid Evidence“, MMK Frankfurt
2003 „Kunst und Krieg“, Neue Galerie Graz
2001 „Szenenwechsel XX“, MMK Frankfurt