History

20 Amazing WW II Photos

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World War II was more than 70 years ago but the photos captured during the conflict still amaze, shock and cause wonder about what was happening at the time, no matter how old they may be now.

20. Target Practice

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The Nazis were not the only ones who use people for experiments during World War II. The Japanese had a horrible history as well with regards to the treatment of prisoners as evidenced in this photo. Sikh prisoners, alive at the time, were used as direct targets for Japanese infantry rifle training.

19. Saving a Baby

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It can be hard to turn off the fighting instinct in the middle of war, and many soldiers remember being a bit crazy was the only thing that kept them alive in the middle of insane circumstances. However, life never stops, even in war, and in this photo soldiers took a time out from fighting to save a baby.

18. D-Day Landing

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The photo of a D-Day landing craft is misleading in its silent frame. What’s not heard is all the artillery shelling, the sound of the landing craft, the rapid breathing of soldiers nearby and the whistle and pinging of bullets coming at the soldiers as they prepare to land on the beach. That absence makes the photo all that more powerful with a story behind the image.

17. Beneath the Desk

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The 1950s nuclear scare was not the first time people were first taught to “duck and cover.” The repeat German bombing of London likely provided the first public awareness training for anticipating bombs and their blast effect on the ground.

16. Still Flying

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In the Persian Gulf conflicts the A-1 Warthog was made famous for its ability to still fly with extensive damage. However, it was not the first military plane to prove it’s durability under fire; the naval plane in this photo takes the title with much earlier technology after a mid-air collision.

15. Stay in the Trench

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The grinding sound of a tank is something many veterans would remember for years after the War, especially if they had been close to one in battle. In this case, the soldier in the trench was likely hoping the earth itself would hold up and not collapse under the weight of the vehicle rolling over.

14. Pity the Refugee

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War refugees were caught in the middle frequently between marching armies. Many were killed as collateral damage or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, there were occasional moments when soldiers stopped fighting and tried to help in small ways on both sides as seen by this German soldier sharing rations with a refugee mother and child.

13. Nature Will Survive

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How this caribou managed to live through a battlefield moment is absolutely amazing as just about anything living was typically eliminated on the front without protection. However, somehow, this photo proved that nature would continue to find a way to survive regardless of how many people tried to kill each other during the conflict.

12. Double Image

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The same street corner 50 years apart tells a story when transposed on itself. During World War II it was common towards the end to find bodies all over. Half a century later, and people are walking and crossing the street at the same corner without knowing what happened on that same cement surface years before.

11. Still Fighting On

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In the midst of fighting many soldiers didn’t think about much else except breathing another moment and fighting back. This photo is unique in that a wounded soldier is literally fighting on as he is carried away injured by a second soldier under fire.

10. Carrying the Flag

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Every flagbearer, regardless of the conflict, has always been a primary target for the enemy. To take down the flag or worse, capture it, has been an objective in battles dating back to ancient time. However, when soldiers saw Old Glory fly on the field of battle, it created a new energy in them even under withering fire, regardless of the desperation on the bearers’ faces at the time.

9. Loss Knows No Borders

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Everyone lost something in the Great War, no matter what side they fought on. In this photo a German soldier survived against incredible odds and made it home only to find the building was turned to rubble and broke bricks. His family was gone.

8. The Wheel Goes Round

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Minefields were a real threat and constant risk for soldiers going into unknown territory. They were easy to create, devastating and very effective in slowing down an advancing army column invading an area. No surprise, lots of inventions were tried out to reduce the damage in a far safer manner, including this wheel contraption.

7. Soldiers on Ice

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When it came to matching the elements, soldiers were able to adapt in all types of conditions to get the job done. In this case, Dutch soldiers used ice skates to quickly and efficiently patrol waterbound areas during the winter.

6. The Eiffel Tower was Not Lost

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It’s an amazing footnote in history that the French Eiffel Tower was not destroyed by the Germans while they occupied Paris. They had plenty of opportunity, and Hitler clearly wanted to leave a scorched earth if he had to give up Paris to Allied forces. Fortunately, his German soldiers chose not to follow through at the last second.

5. Hidden Treasure

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It’s not often one gets to pull a complete tank out of the lake in fairly good artifact condition. In the case of this find, a German tank was located and successfully recovered from an Estonian lake. That said, water penetration was extensive and the assembly is only good for a visual display now.

4. Art Deco in War

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Being in the middle of a war didn’t stop ingenuity and art. In fact, it might have made it more extreme in some cases as in this motorcycle.

3. A Little Girl

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Anne Frank and her diary did more to carry the story of her family during the War and discredit the Nazis than most of the Allied propaganda. While Frank was eventually captured and sent to the concentration camps where she died, her book is still standard reading fare for schoolchildren today.

2. The Innocence of a Child

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No matter what was going on in the war, children still showed their innocence in hell. Dutch hit the ground for cover from a sniper but a child stands unaware of what’s going on.

1. Water as a Necessity

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In the midst of siege and war civilians found amazing ways to survive as seen in this ice-chipping trench to get plain water for drinking and cooking.

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