About a year ago I bought a collection, on CD, of what were, supposedly, some 12,000+ images of World War 2 . I was very surprised, and pleased, to see that most of them were not British or American but were in fact either Russian or German. I would like to share some of them with you because a number of them have great photographic merits as well as capturing a split second in history. They also reflect quite accurately how that massive struggle was unfolding.
We left the German invaders discovering just how cold the Soviet Union could get. The Germans still thought that they could win, though. Their racial theories said the Russians were “untermenschen” and the photographs they took and sent home seemed to prove it:
This man is living in the Western USSR but what race is he? :
And what about this one? He is far from the Aryan ideal. And by the rules used by the Germans, he may be killed for that offence against racial purity:
When they invaded Poland, the German troops were told that the Poles lived in filth, that they had a distinctive stink and that, with practice, you could smell the presence of any Poles nearby. Poles were Slavs and so were Russians. It wasn’t a huge leap to apply the same attributes to Russians. And the photographs you took would prove it. They were subhuman. Just look at them. Barefoot and unkempt. Where would you find the like in Germany?:
Many of them even lived underground:
And their children? Like little animals. Dirty. Badly dressed and often bare footed:
And many of them are complete ragamuffins, with little evidence of knowing who their parents are:
And then the stupid, smelly Russkies stumbled their way to making what may well have been the finest tank of all time, the T-34 :
And before too long, the tables began to be turned. More and more prisoners were being captured by the useless, cretinous Soviets:
Events accelerated after that, from very bad to catastrophic. Soon it was Germans who were fleeing as refugees. Hitler had said that he would drive Bolshevism out of Europe, to the far side of the Urals. He was wrong. His incompetence had brought the Red Commie Tide westwards, and the Russians by 1945 were some 800 miles further into central Europe than they had been six years before. Run, run, run!:
And before long, they were giving German Grandads in Berlin newly invented superweapons and telling them to do their bit to chase those 2,300,000 Russkies out of the city. Don’t look so bewildered, Gramps! They’re easy to use, but unfortunately, they fire only one shot:
19 responses to “Photographs of the Eastern Front in World War Two (2)”
You have produced an excellent narrative to accompany these amazing shots.
I had nearly forty years as a teacher, Derrick and Pierre. I’m used to making things up! Seriously though, thank you for your kind compliment. Every single detail is true. All those German attitudes I have read about somewhere. Thank God they didn’t win!
The tragedy of human life. I wonder who took the photos.
All of the photographs except two would have been taken by German photographers, probably officers, who were likelier to have had cameras. The photographs of the German prisoners of war, and the photograph of the T-34 tank, would have been photographed by somebody from the Soviet propaganda department.
An amazing collection. Have any of these photos been on the internet before?
With one exception, not as far as I know. I am always on the lookout for likely material for blog posts, and that was the reason I bought this collection. They were advertised as free to use for any purpose, which suited me as my daughter has said a few times that I was far too careless about copyright, and that one day somebody will get upset about my “borrowing” their photograph.
Only recently, I bought a second DVD with 14k of photographs, which will will give me an even bigger choice of what to use……unless, of course, the new DVD turns out to be just the same as the previous one, but with a different cover, and sold by the same person but using a different name. Fingers crossed!!!
Good luck and I look forward to seeing them!!
The devastation of war on the lives of women and children is very evident in the photos. Thanks for sharing, John.
Just a second to destroy buildings, crops, children or adults, and yet it takes a lifetime to undo the damage which has been done to the loved ones of those who have died.
The Soviet Union was devastated by the Germans like no other European country. The Belarus area had 2,000 villages burnt to the ground and everybody killed by the invaders . The saying in Russia as a whole was that everybody had lost either a father or a mother or a daughter or a son. Stalin said “Nobody has suffered as we have suffered” and he was right, with the notable exception of the Jews, of course.
These are incredible photos and really tell a story (as you do too!). Life must have been very hard indeed and as the Germans found out, Russian weather can be a killer.
Here in sunny England, we never experience the cold of Russia, and to add to it, the winters from 1941-1943 were some of the very worst of the century. Apparently, a helmet full of boiling soup was tepid to cold after a minute, and could be freezing after two minutes. Even as I write that it seems ludicrous, but in the years before the First World, my Grandad saw Niagara Falls almost but not quite frozen, perhaps 80-90%, and he said that in Canada it was a familiar trick to spit in the air and it would freeze before it hit the ground. So perhaps the soup story isn’t so far fetched after all!
Good grief that is certainly cold and as unbelievable as it is, I’m sure it’s true!
These photographs make one realise that the veneer of civil society is perilously thin. I consider myself very fortunate to have reached this age never having had my life blighted by war, as were those of my parents and grandparents.
I have heard apocryphal accounts of German soldiers freezing to death in an upright position, so intense was the Russian winter, though that may have been propaganda.
No, it wasn’t propaganda! One of the 12,000+ images of World War 2 shows a German casualty who has been pushed into a deep snowdrift by the Russians and has frozen with both legs sticking up into the air. The Germans used to use Russians as signposts. Step 1 was to get a board and to write the destination on it in large letters. Step 2 was to get the Russian to hold it in one hand and then to point either left or right as requested. Then Step 3 was to shoot him and Step 4, to hold him up as a signpost while he froze solid.
You are absolutely right, though, to give thanks that we are a generation that has not suffered from the blight of war, but I do think that this pandemic is getting pretty close to being a war, with no real 100% sure-fire way to avoid its occasionally serious or even fatal effects, no matter how old or how young you are or how physically fit.
Thank you for sharing!!.. it gives one time to pause and contemplate how much and how fast life has changed for many, and for some in a single lifetime!… 🙂
Hope all is well in your part of the universe and life is all that you wish for it to be… 🙂
Yes, we all seem to be at the mercy of what used to be called “The Fickle Finger of Fate”!
Things are very good here in Nottingham or at least as good as they are likely to be! I think we would all benefit enormously from an announcement that an easy cure had been found for Covid.
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